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Ashwin Prabhakar has won the 2023 Gorgas Scholarship competition for the state of Alabama. In the photo, Prabhakar stands with his mentor, Jessye Gaines with the Engineering Academy at Bob Jones High School. CONTRIBUTED

Ashwin Prabhakar earns Gorgas Scholarship for state

MADISON – Officials have narrowed their search of finalists to name Ashwin Prabhakar, a senior at Bob Jones High School, as recipient of the 2023 Gorgas Scholarship for the state of Alabama.

Prabhakar received the honor during Alabama Academy of Science’s annual meeting on March 9-10 at Samford University in Birmingham. The academy’s Gorgas Scholarship program promotes interest in science and aids in education of promising students.

“Judges for this competition were comprised of department heads, deans and professors from universities and industries in Alabama,” Prabhakar said. “They found my independent and original research to have the most potential to make significant and impactful changes for the scientific community.”

Busy at Bob Jones, Prabhakar is lead for Patriot Racing; Tennis Team Co-Captain; member of Math Team, National Honor Society, National Athletic Honor Society, honor societies for English, Social Studies and Science; Society of Women Engineers; and Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee.

He founded Rocket City Research Society to inspire elementary and middle-school students to pursue innovative research. “I run free camps, give talks in schools and guide kids through their projects,” Prabhakar said.

Outstanding in academics, Prabhakar has an unweighted GPA of 4.00 and a weighted GPA of 5.125. “In ninth grade, ‘Microplanet’ was named in my honor by MIT Lincoln labs. I was a state winner for Ecybermission and national winner with Mathfax,” he said.

His honors continued throughout high school:

* Sophomore — Genius Olympiad, Gold Medal; National Space Club, Rising Star Award; Toshiba Exploravision, national winner; Alabama Junior Academy of Science, competition winner.

* Junior — Alabama Science and Engineering Fair, winner; International Science and Engineering Fair, Office of Naval Research Award; and induction into Sigma Xi, International Honor Society of Science and Engineering, outstanding research.

* Senior — Davidson Fellow for Engineering; National Merit Finalist; U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate; and Gorgas Scholarship winner.

Jessye Gaines with Bob Jones Engineering Academy mentored Prabhakar as research sponsor throughout his high school years and attended his presentation at Samford. “Mrs. Gaines has always been supportive and is instrumental to my success,” Prabhakar said.

Prabhakar’s favorite subject is physics “as it is part of life’s everyday activities. For me, translating the theoretical knowledge from the class to real-world applications and seeing it come to life, especially via my research projects, is exhilarating.”

Prabhakar’s special interests include 3D printing, building LEGO sets, playing FIFA football, camping, tennis, soccer and F1 races.

His father Prabhakar Pandian and his mother Chandra Palanichamy work as engineers.

For more information, email Dr. Ellen Buckner at ebbuckner@gmail.com, or visit GorgasScholar.org.

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