Former NMRC Science, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) intern, Navya Annapareddy, 16, was a finalist in the Marvel Studios “Doctor Strange: The Magic of STEM" challenge.
SILVER SPRING, Md. – Former Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) intern, Navya Annapareddy, 16, was a finalist in a Marvel Studios challenge. Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange: The Magic of STEM challenge sought to inspire girls and show them the wonders of science and technology. The challenge encouraged young girls to answer some of sciences most complex problems and questions, with the intent to motivate all young-thinkers to explore all options and think outside of the box.
As an NMRC intern, Annapareddy said, “I gained a lot of experience at my time with NMRC, the whole experience really taught me the technical translation skills that I think helped me become a finalist in this competition.”
At NMRC she was assigned to the Viral and Rickettsial Disease Directorate in the Infectious Diseases Directorate at NMRC and had the opportunity to work with Dr. Peifang Sun, her mentor. Her primary project focused on the enhancement of a Zika virus infection of human monocytes by dengue immune sera.
“I really enjoyed working with Dr. Sun on my project at NMRC, but I also really appreciate all of experience that I gained by working in a real research oriented environment. I learned the sort of stuff that you don’t really get to learn in a classroom environment, it was a really hands on learning experience,” said Annapareddy. “It took me two weeks to learn how to pipette correctly,” she added. Annapareddy has the opportunity to continue her learning experiences with NMRC, as she was recently accepted into the Navy Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) for summer 2017.
She took her lessons and experienced she gained at NMRC and decided to enter the “Doctor Strange” STEM challenge.
“I was really nervous when I was waiting for the call when they were going to announce the winners of the competition; I really thought that I wasn’t going to make it. When they called I was so excited and almost in disbelief, my mom and I basically danced around the house for an hour after we found out that I was a finalist,” said Annapareddy.
Five finalists, including Annapareddy, attended the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange.” According to Marvel, each finalist received two round-trip tickets to Southern California, which included meals, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, a tour of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, and more.
“I think one of the best parts about going to California was that we got to go on the red carpet at the premiere of “Dr. Strange”,” said Annapareddy.
The five girls were graciously greeted by “Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, with Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton. In addition to the cast, the girls were also greeted on the red carpet by Director Scott Derrickson and Producer Kevin Feige.
Each applicant was asked to submit a short, science vlog-style video. Annapareddy did just that, and asked herself, “How do upper-limb prosthetics work?” Her vlog presented an engaging, upbeat and easy to understand history of prosthetic devices starting from the Egyptian era on to modern day devices controlled by a person’s brain activity.
The thought for her idea didn’t come from a TV-show or a textbook, but rather someone she knew, a neighbor who was outfitted with a 3-D prosthetic arm. “I thought it was so neat how something that most people have and use every day, such as our arms or our legs, could be replicated so easily. It just shows how much we can take for granted, but thankfully we have advanced technology like this to help those who need it,” said Annapareddy.
Annapareddy said this will not be her last competition, and she has already entered into various other competitions from science and technology based companies, including a contest to find a solution to using IV’s in microgravity.
“I think these competitions are a great way to challenge myself and they are really fun,” she said. She has plans to get her undergraduate degree in engineering and her medical degree to hopefully work in public health. As the daughter of a mother who works in healthcare and a father who works in technology, she said “I hope one day that I can be just like my mom and my dad.”