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Tarun Srinivasan: A Young Scientist Exploring the Final Frontier

CKW Luxe is proud to announce that Tarun Srinivasan is our shared honoree for the Shining Star Award.This award recognizes the young people who have made a significant impact on their community through innovation or entrepreneurship. It shows our appreciation for those who start small and end up big letting their stars shine.

“Goals will always remain dreams without a plan. Only with adequate planning and diligent execution can you be successful.” – Tarun Srinivasan

Tarun Srinivasan is an 18-year-old student at The Kinkaid School where he excels in the arts, athletics, and academics. Though born in Chicago, Tarun has spent the majority of his life in Houston, moving to the Bayou City at the age of one. As a member of The Kinkaid School band since sixth grade, Tarun plays the clarinet, and achieved success at the regional- and area-level auditions. He has also played Kinkaid varsity tennis, and, as captain, led the team to a Southwest Preparatory Championship appearance. An eloquent speaker, Tarun has been a member of The Kinkaid Model United Nations team since his sophomore year. As a team member, Tarun has attended conferences all over the world, from New York City to Budapest.

Tarun, who is passionate about his community, routinely volunteers at the Baker Ripley School and the Methodist Hospital, and for the Special Olympics.

This fall, Tarun will be attending Columbia University, where he will enroll as a science research fellow, majoring in biochemistry with a concentration in economics. Tarun first developed his passion for scientific research during his freshman year in high school. During his sophomore year, Tarun proposed and executed a clinical study, in association with the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, whose mission it is to “serve as an international hub for the development and implementation of advanced technologies for the understanding of how the microbiome impacts health and disease, and for the translation of this knowledge into microbiome based therapeutics and diagnostics,” according to the center’s website. Tarun’s study sought to discern the relationship between exercise and the human microbiome (microorganisms in the body). It earned Tarun the Herder Research Fellowship for his work.

As is evidenced above, Tarun is a young man with his feet planted firmly on the ground. But he also has his head in the clouds, which is a good thing. It means Tarun is interested in space, specifically in astronauts when they are in space. Tarun’s scientific curiosity has made him fascinated by the effects of bacteria on the human body. Recently, Tarun entered the International Space Station Science Competition, Genes in Space. Students in grades seven through twelve, who enter the competition, are required to design an experiment to solve a real-life space exploration problem through DNA analysis. The five finalists will be mentored by researchers from MIT and Harvard who will assist them in preparing their experiments for space travel.

The proposals will be presented to a panel of scientists, educators, and technologists by the students at the International Space station (ISS) Research and Development Conference in Boston, Massachusetts from July 07 to July 09. The winner will be announced at that time. The winning experiment will be performed aboard the ISS using a miniPCR machine. And that’s not all.

The winner will actually get to watch the launch of the rocket taking their idea 250 miles above the Earth, into space, where it will come to life. What an exciting and interesting competition to be a part of.
Hundreds of students submitted their ideas for experiments. Tarun was one of them. He designed an experiment to test the compositional changes to the bacteria in an astronaut’s body before, during, and after a journey to space. Specifically, Tarun intends to examine the effects spending time on the ISS will have on the gut microbiome. In Tarun’s own words, “This study is relevant in that it addresses the health of the individuals who venture into the final frontier.” “Tarun has developed a schedule to frequently collect stool samples from the astronauts before departure, during space travel, and after,” according to DNA Science Blog. The blog goes on to say that “Analysis will consider age, gender, medication usage, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise as well as the taxonomic profiles of gut microbiome residents.”

Tarun’s favorite quote is from Benjamin Franklin. It goes like this, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” The quote suits Tarun to a T. Because of his scientific thinking, interest in the effects of outer space on bacteria, and thoughtful idea, Tarun is one of the five finalists who will present at the July conference. This is a tremendous achievement, and one of which Tarun should be very proud.

Additionally, last summer, Tarun was selected as a Welch Scholar at the University of Texas at Arlington where he worked at the MacDonnell Lab, researching the efficacy of ruthenium-based complexes as anticancer drugs. He is currently working on a study with NASA, in conjunction with their NEEMO program, examining genetic alterations in extreme environments.

CKW Luxe would like to congratulate Tarun Srinivasan on being a shared honoree of the Shining Star Award. As the embodiment of the award, Tarun’s innovative thinking, scientific approach, and curious mind encourage him to better understand the world around us today to provide solutions for problems tomorrow. His never ending curiosity may take Tarun’s latest idea into space. It will definitely take him far in improving conditions for mankind. CKW Luxe would also like to wish Tarun all the best as he embarks on his new life as a science research fellow at Columbia University this fall.

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