Vedant Karalkar, state science fair winner

Vedant Karalkar

An Eastside High School student is headed for an international science fair representing the state of Florida. 

Eastside junior Vedant Karalkar has developed a low-cost diagnostic test for high-poverty nations, a project that earned top honors in a state competition announced this week. The showing qualified Karalkar for the prestigious Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. 

“I am very proud to represent Alachua County in the science fair, and I hope to continue this project in the future,” said Karalkar.

The state fair was held virtually from March 28 through April 1, and 21 Alachua County Public School students received recognition.

Karalkar took first place in the high school chemistry division and was named one of just eight Best in Fair Grand Award winners. The recognition came with a $1,000 award and a spot in the international competition, which will take place virtually May 3-6.

Karalkar’s project is called "Fabrication of Napthalimide Chemosensor Using InkJet Printing on Cellulose Paper for Determination of Uric Acid and Metal in Solution." That means he developed a low-cost sensor that could be used to test for a variety of diseases in areas with little or no access to current diagnostic tests that often require more expensive instruments, sophisticated techniques and/or highly-skilled medical personnel.

“The idea first came to me when I was researching the reason for the cause of the rise in infections in low-resource countries,” he said. “I saw that many could not even test for infections until it was too late.”

The project also won special awards from the American Chemical Society Florida chapter, the Yale Science and Engineering Association and the United States Office of Naval Research.

Buchholz High School junior Jeffrey Xue will also compete at the international fair. He earned a spot with his project ‘College Football Playoff Expansion: A Statistical Analysis via Monte Carlo Simulation,’ which earned the highest recognition at the Alachua Regional Science and Engineering Fair in February.

A list of local award winners for the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair is available here.

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