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Local student shares love of science with underserved students

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WESTFORD —  A Westford student hopes to share her love of biology with her peers.

Prajna Upadhyaya, a Westford Academy junior, created a series of blogs and workshops titled “The Art of Biology,” where Upadhyaya breaks down a number of topics related to the human body.

Prajna Upadhyaya, a junior attending Westford Academy. (Photo/courtesy)

Her project, she says, began in 8th grade, where her passion for medicine blossomed. She currently volunteers at the Red Cross in Worcester, as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire.

“I really liked [biology] because I could learn more in depth about it. In 9th grade, I took the initiative to learn more,” she told WestfordCAT in an interview. 

She continued, “A lot of this stuff is not stuff you’d learn in classes, it’s something different that would spark your interest.”

A number of topics, including “The Perception of Color” and “The Science Behind Blood Types” have been published. Upadhyaya notes her topics are selected based on personal experiences between her and her family.

“All of my blog posts are based on my own experiences,” she said. “It resonates with the problems I’ve had in my family.” 

Motivating students to learn

The resources, Upadhyaya says, is to help combat a “lack of motivation” for learning among her peers.

“My platform was just trying to get people motivated [and make it applicable to their life]. People don’t appreciate science for what it is sometimes,” she said.

She believes the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her peers’ motivation to learn.

“I wanted people to see it in a different lens and take them out of the stress of an academic environment. I truly believe that will bring back the interest and motivation before COVID,” she said. 

She continued, “given the right stimulus, people can enjoy what they’re learning about.”

One of Upadhyaya’s posts, “How to Eat Heart Healthy,” was created in conjunction with Dr. Francine Welty, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Working with Harvard Medical School, Upadhyaya says, “enlightened” her to the research process.

“It was a new level of obtaining information and breaking it down because even I didn’t understand all of it. It was hard for me to go through that process.”

Upadhyaya hopes her project will inspire students to further their education outside of the classroom, and to provide an accessible resource to underserved students. Her posts have reached students in Brazil, India and Malaysia among others.

“We want people to get that spark again. Even if one child gets that, it’s an impact in my eyes,” she said. 

She continued, “my end goal in this is to reach more remote populations and underserved populations. I think it’s really important to help make those people passionate about learning in general, it doesn’t just have to be about biology.” 

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.