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Big-time in little things

West Ranch student published in Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Posted: March 16, 2008 2:55 a.m.
Updated: May 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

Nanoscience: Nanoscience is primarily the extension of existing sciences into the realms of the extremely small....

At 17 years old, Surya Singh is a precocious student and published scientist. To achieve her future goals, she has already published two research articles (last summer) in the American Scientific Publishers' Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (www.aspbs.com/jnn) and is currently working on her third.

After finishing her junior year at West Ranch High School, Singh decided she would like to expand her scientific knowledge by interning for the American Scientific Publishers - her father, Dr. Hari Singh Nalwa, owns the company. Despite this relationship with the publishers, Singh still had to demonstrate her dedication and skill to obtain the job.

"I had to prove to him that I really wanted the job - that I was serious about pursuing my dreams in science and making a difference by applying emerging discoveries, such as in nanotechnology," Singh said. Also, since the company produces books and journals for Ph.D.-level studies and research, Singh's past performance in science was essential for her father's decision.

"She has a very strong background in the science. She has taken Advanced Placement physics, biology, calculus, and chemistry; she received fives (top marks) on physics, biology and calculus, and a four on chemistry. Her academic achievements give the impression that she has college level knowledge, and that she would be able to work for my company," Nalwa said.

Nalwa's company, with its production of nanotechnology-based journals, handbooks and encyclopedias, has been ranked number one in the world for nanotechnology publications. Also, ASP's publications frequently contain work endorsed by Nobel Prize Laureates and are regularly subscribed to by top schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Yale University, University of California Berkeley, Cornell University, and University of Pennsylvania.

Having such a successful father, Singh has always been drawn to pursue a career in the science. Her fascination has thus led her to her internship, which has given her valuable practice and insight.

"The research that I put into the publications has definitely helped me gain much more knowledge than I could have ever gotten in high school," she said. "Also, the experience of just working in such an exciting field, with renowned scientists, has inspired me because now I know that I can do what I set my mind and interest to. Finally, because this article was published in an international journal, millions may read it. It has helped me gain recognition in the scientific field, which is very important for me because I want to go into more research labs."

Plans for the Future
Singh's experience with the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology has also been a valuable asset for fulfilling her future goals.

"She has been able to gain experience with the literature of nanotechnology. Her work with nanomaterials, nanotoxicology and nanomedicine for drug delivery shows she has the potential to go into biological or medical science," Nalwa said.

Singh hopes to attend a prestigious four-year university such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Yale University or University of California Berkeley. She then plans on entering a graduate school ("Oxford University or Cambridge University") to receive her master's degree. Afterwards, she aspires to earn a medical degree.

Besides her education, Singh wants to complete individual research and have a career as a neurosurgeon, pediatrician or cardiologist.

"I'll work in a hospital for three years or so, then open up my own practice. Along the side I will still be researching and doing labs while publishing more papers and expanding the new company that I just recently registered, Nanomax Technologies," Singh said.

Her current Honors microbiology and molecular genetics teacher, Shallu Makan, feels very confident in Singh's ambitions.

"Due to her set goals, I have no doubt that she will be a part of the medical field in the future," Makan said. "The key to her success will come from her hard work, dedication, and sincerity."

Working Although Singh did not actually get to perform the research herself, she was still able to collaborate with a different professional for each article. Together, they researched "hundreds of sources per article, respectively" and co-wrote each piece.

For Singh's first research review article, Polylactide Based Nanostructured Biomaterials and Their Applications, she worked with Dr. Suprakas Sinha Ray, a chief researcher and leader at the National Centre for Nanostructure Materials. The second article, Nanotechnology and Health Safety - Toxicity and Risk Assessments of Nanostructure materials on Human Health, allowed Singh to work in close contact with her father, who is considered one of the "2,000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century" with Order of Excellence.

"It was a really awesome experience. I got to learn so much from him.

Everyone in the scientific community looks to him for answers in so many research fields and so many universities invite him to lecture for thousands of dollars, and here I am, working with the same person for no cost. I'm really grateful that I have a dad like that, someone I can learn so much from," she said.

These several-month-long research topics have also given Singh the chance to delve into some of the issues she is most concerned about, such as protecting the environment and improving public health.

"These overriding theses were chosen because it seems like safety for humans in the environment is a main topic in the world today. Believe it or not, even something as small as nanoparticles can have adverse affects on human health, and I wanted to know why, how, and what we can do to stop it," she said.

In addition to writing articles, Singh experienced publication from the other end, as an intern. The majority of her intern work included office organization and checking that incoming journals, handbooks, books and encyclopedias were acceptable for print. Later, she was promoted to editorial assistant and overlooked articles for completeness, grammar mistakes, copyright permissions and plagiarism.

"This job taught me a lot about the publishing business. It also helped me gain knowledge in many fields other than nanotechnology, such a genomics, artificial intelligence and bioinformatics," she said. "Nanotechnology, to me, is the most intriguing and exciting field of science because it's the epitome of science. It can help people immensely through medical treatments such as in cancer and nanomedicines for drug delivery."

Nanotechnology's relevance today involves and incorporates many sides of science, which Singh finds fascinating, as does her former and current teacher Matt Pearce. Pearce, Singh's ninth grade AP biology and present Honors human anatomy/physiology teacher, describes nanotechnology as a "fundamental and universal science."

"Nanotechnology combines physics, anatomy, chemistry, biology and mathematics. It brings everything together, and it can be applied to future emergences in technology," he said.

Singh's Influence
Pearce's interest in Singh's work has motivated him to develop a term project centered upon her research. His anatomy students will complete the assignment for their own benefit as well as for Singh's. He anticipates their work to assist Singh in her future endeavors.

Such academic cooperation will occur outside of West Ranch and, in fact, has already begun. Recently, through an e-mail sent to Pearce, Dr. Milan Beno of the Slovak Medical University requested a copy of Singh's second article for his research.

"Technically she already is a published scientist, actively performing in nanotechnology. Her work is being requested from scientists around the world," Pearce said. And he later expressed his pride from a teacher-student point of view. "What she has done is far, far above my expectations. I couldn't have anticipated any better. It is the absolute top. I am honored to have a student this focused on science."

Through Pearce and West Ranch's principal, Mr. Vincent, the Discovery Channel has decided to do its first episode of "Science in America" on Singh. It will focus on the relationships between Singh and her work, school and community that have led to her achievements in science. As of now, there is no further information on the details and scheduling of the episode.

Singh is currently working with her father on research regarding cancer nanotechnology and various forms of safe nanomedicines for drug delivery. She anticipates this article to be completed some time by the end of March and published thereafter.

An abstract of Singh's research can be found on the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology section of www.aspbs.com.

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