A teenager from Woodbury is among 19 to win scholarships from a foundation that aims to find the nation's most gifted students.
This year's class of Davidson Fellows have designed space missions, analyzed how epidemics spread and invented a Chemistry-themed card game.
Prithwis Mukhopadhyay was recognized for his work during the past three summers with researchers at the University of Illinois.
The 16-year old from Woodbury studied the relationship between a widely-used food additive and the growth of breast cancer cells.
But he's also known about this award for some time.
"When I was in 8th grade, it was known as an impossible target to reach," Mukhopadhyay said. "So I took it as a challenge and when I heard I was a Davidson Fellow, it was like a dream come true."
Mukhopadhyay said he plans to use the $10,000 he also won on tuition at either Harvard, MIT or Stanford. But for now, he's getting ready for his junior year at Woodbury High, where he plans to take 10 advanced placement classes this year.
"He's very disciplined, which is what I need. He's a young man of 15 or 16 kids who knows what he should do or what he should not do," said Dr. Sumit Bhattacharyya, a UIC researcher and Mukhopadhyay's mentor. "He goes through the proper training precautions and everything, which is very essential."
One part of Mukhopadhyay's breast cancer research focused on how the molecular structure of a food additive called carrageenan might induce mammary cells to transform into a pre-malignant state. Carrageenan is found in dairy products, processed meats, dog food, infant formula, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.