Editor's note: We're celebrating this year's impressive 20 Google Science Fair finalist projects over 20 days in our Spotlight on a Young Scientist series. Learn more about each of these inspiring young people and hear what inspires them in their own words.

Name: Anurudh Ganesan

Home: Clarksburg, Maryland, US

Age Category: 13-15

Project: VAXXWAGON: a reliable way to store and transport vaccines

As an infant in India, Anurudh’s grandparents carried him 10 miles for a vaccine, only to find that the vaccinations were no longer viable due to a lack of refrigeration. He knew that story well, and decided that one day he’d find a better and more reliable way to transport vaccines to remote locations. He brainstormed with a few local professors to come up with the idea for a "no ice, no electric" vaccine transportation system. Based on intensive test results in the lab, he created a simple vapor compression refrigeration system easily powered by humans or even animals. This model can successfully deliver vaccines without compromising the integrity of the antibodies, serving more people who urgently need intact and effective vaccinations. 

What was the inspiration behind your project? 

When I was an infant, my grandparents walked me 10 miles to a remote clinic in India in order to receive a vaccination. When we arrived, the vaccines were ineffective due to the high temperatures and lack of refrigeration. Eventually, I got the vaccination. I was fortunate but others are not. I later found out that according to UNICEF, 1.5 million children die as a result of not getting the safe and effective vaccines that they so desperately need. Also, I discovered that vaccines can become frozen because of ice-packs, also rendering them ineffective. This inspired me to explore a better method of refrigerating vaccines in the last-leg, particularly in developing countries. So, my ultimate goal is to develop a refrigeration system for last-leg vaccine transportation taking a “no ice, no electric” approach. By considering the current demand and utilization of water and electricity, VAXXWAGON can effectively transport vaccines in the last-leg, without the use of ice and electricity, which would save thousands of lives throughout the world.

When and why did you become interested in science? 

When I was five, my dad and I were refueling our car at a nearby gas station. I asked my dad then, “can we invent a self powered vehicle that doesn't need gas?” My dad never forgot that conversation and inspired me to learn everything I could about self-generating power. I’ve participated in several science fairs, starting from second grade until now, researching diversified topics from self-generating power to biometrics and public health. Science allows me to dream, imagine, explore and question unknown things. This creative freedom allows me to be limitless in my thinking!

What words of advice would you share with other young scientists? 

Young scientists shouldn't worry about failing and shouldn't be discouraged about their passions, even when they face big challenges. We can choose to focus on ideas for solving urgent and life threatening global issues in this ever-changing world. I also believe most importantly, that the results of these young scientist’s discoveries should be a solution that helps and creates opportunities for a better quality of life worldwide.