Age: 18Vienna, VA
Project Title: Characterizing Uncertainty in Urban Inversions of Carbon Sources / Sinks using Low Cost Sensor Measurements
Global warming, due to the man-made release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, threatens nearly every aspect of our daily lives and is undoubtedly one of the biggest crises we face today. However, the first step to reducing emissions is measuring them. Siona’s project creates a comprehensive system to measure and monitor greenhouse gas emissions. Using carbon dioxide sensor technology, drone platforms and inversion modeling, Siona successfully predicted an emission inventory for Washington, DC. Her methodology takes a crucial first step towards enforcing mitigation strategies and government-set limits and, ultimately, combating climate change.
Siona Prasad is an 18-year-old student from Northern Virginia. She first got involved with environmental research in her freshman year of high school and has since been fascinated by the power of technology to help our environment. Siona is deeply honored to be named a 2019 Davidson Fellow. She is excited to join this incredible and inspiring group of peers and hopes to continue her research pursuits in the future.
In the next decade, without significant cuts to carbon dioxide emissions, global temperatures will almost certainly rise above the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, widely accepted as the level beyond which the impact to humans and our ecosystems will be detrimental. However, the first step towards reducing emissions is being able to measure them - otherwise it’s as if we are dieting without weighing ourselves. Siona’s project creates a comprehensive system to measure and monitor greenhouse gas emissions from large cities. Using a combination of sensor technology, drones and atmospheric models, she was able to predict an emission inventory from her hometown of Washington, DC.
The impact of Siona’s work is tremendous. By pinpointing and quantifying sources of CO2, Siona’s project takes the first step towards enforcing mitigation strategies and government-set limits on greenhouse gas emissions and, ultimately, combating climate change. She is working with organizations such as the EPA and NOAA to use her emission inventories to directly impact local environmental policy.
Siona embodied the spirit of scientific research throughout her project. Collaborating with mentors and scientists from various institutions, she was surrounded by fascinating and often multidisciplinary approaches to tackling our greatest environmental challenges. Through conferences, Siona interacted and learned from notable scientists, passionate environmentalists, and leaders of environmental policy. This past summer, she continued environmental research at the Research Science Institute, developing mathematical Bayesian techniques to model the spread of pollution in marine environments. Siona would like to thank her mentors for their continued support and guidance throughout her project.
Siona is a recent graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. TJ’s countless STEM resources, advanced lab equipment, passionate teachers and striking variety of STEM coursework have been crucial to Siona’s research pursuits. She would like to specially thank her chemistry teacher, Mr. Kauffman, for his endless support and mentorship throughout her research journey. TJ has given Siona the opportunity to explore various fields in-depth through courses such as geosystems, prototyping, DNA sciences and computer science. This multidisciplinary foundation armed Siona with many of the tools she used in her environmental initiative. Siona will be attending Harvard University in the fall where she plans to major in computer science.
Siona has presented her research at the recent Joint Mathematics Meeting (JMM), American Mathematical Society, American Physical Society, and American Geophysical Union conferences. She has been recognized as a Siemens semifinalist, ISEF 2nd-place award winner and national JSHS finalist. MIT Lincoln-labs named a minor planet after Siona in recognition of her research. In addition, Siona has furthered her commitment to the environment through speaking at national venues including the Clean Air Partners “Breathe Easy” summer campaign, the Green Energy Expo, and representatives at the EPA, NOAA and AMS. She serves as an alternate member to her county’s environmental quality advisory council. Through her greenhouse gas project, Siona has realized the importance of bridging the gap between research and policy. Over the last four years, she has worked with a variety of organizations to use her research to impact company-set mitigation strategies.
Siona is also a founding member and co-president of Parties 2 Inspire, a non-profit aimed at inspiring children, seniors and people in need through parties and education. Over the last five years, she has held over 40 events ranging from camps, parties and exposiums for underprivileged children in her community. At school Siona is captain of the varsity tennis team, officer of the Russian honor society and a member of the public forum debate team. She is an Indian classical dancer and a competitive tennis player. In her free time, Siona loves to dance, hike and try new foods with her friends and family.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I am currently unsure but I envision myself using the evolving power of technology to combat the ongoing environmental crisis we face today.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Al Gore, Charles David Keeling, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama and Thomas Edison
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?Masterchef or Chopped
In the News
Neeyanth Kopparapu and Siona Prasad each awarded $25,000 as 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winners
Fairfax, Va. – The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2019 Davidson Fellows Scholarship winners. Among the honorees are Neeyanth Kopparapu, 17, of Herndon and Siona Prasad, 18, of Vienna. Only 20 students across the country are recognized as scholarship winners each year.
“I am deeply honored to be named a 2019 Davidson Fellow,” said Prasad, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall. “I am excited to join this incredible and inspiring group of peers and hope to continue my research pursuits in the future.”
Prasad’s project, Characterizing Uncertainty in Urban Inversions of Carbon Sources / Sinks using Low Cost Sensor Measurements, creates a comprehensive system to measure and monitor greenhouse gas emissions. Using carbon dioxide sensor technology, drone platforms and inversion modeling, Prasad successfully predicted an emission inventory for Washington, DC. Her methodology takes a crucial first step towards enforcing mitigation strategies and government-set limits and, ultimately, combating climate change.
Click here to download the full press release
Click the image to download hi-res photos of Siona:
Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.