SALINE, MI – Ask Neel Moudgal what his greatest passion is and you may possibly locate him conflicted with a plethora of selections and talents for him to decide on from.
The Saline Higher College senior has a black belt in Taekwondo and has traveled across the nation to attend rock and mineral shows and gather uncommon specimens from across the earth. He’s won a national finance competitors, has taken classes at the University of Michigan considering the fact that his sophomore year and is the member of a Quiz Bowl group that has competed annually in the national tournament.
His most current recognition may possibly be his most impressive however.
On March 14, Neel was named the winner of 1st location and $250,000 for developing a personal computer model that can swiftly and reliably predict the structure of RNA molecules making use of only effortlessly accessible information. He was announced as the winner in the 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competitors for higher college seniors hosted along with the Society for Science.
He believes the study will make it much easier to diagnose and treat specific illnesses like cancer, lupus, epilepsy and other autoimmune illnesses.
“The hypothesis is that by understanding the issues brought on by an RNA segment getting the incorrect structure, we can far better comprehend how these illnesses function and how we can treat them,” Moudgal mentioned. “My project focused on attempting to take a sequence of RNA and predicting the structure it should really kind.”
Neel mentioned he created a really like of science following he started attending Saline as a middle college student taking precalculus and AP classes.
Soon after earning a Davidson Fellowship Scholarship in 2022, Neel was encouraged by other fellows who had previously participated in the Regeneron Science Talent Search to enter the study he had been operating on prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the fact it was a computational plan, even so, Neel was capable to do the function remotely, publishing a paper along with University of Michigan Biophysics Professor Dr. Aaron Frank on April 26, 2022.
Whilst the study wasn’t accomplished with the talent search competitors in thoughts, Neel believed it aligned properly with what the competitors was asking for, in terms of original study at a higher level in the science field.
Neel’s study explores the function of RNA, a type of “messenger molecule,” he says, which carry out a wide selection of functions on their personal that are integral to cell function.
“Almost every single function that the cell demands, RNA can serve,” he mentioned. “It’s not necessarily accurate that it does all the things, but in specific situations, it has been shown to be capable to do nearly all the things. So, the new view is that RNA is possibly a enormous crucial player in the cell and some say even far more vital than even DNA.”
Neel eventually created a personal computer model that can swiftly and reliably predict the structure of a variety of RNA molecules to facilitate the improvement of novel diagnostics and therapeutic drugs for illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune illnesses and viral infections.
“It type of aids inform researchers in studying each how RNA is in its organic state, but also studying how RNA is in these pathological illness states,” Neel mentioned. “Hopefully that will give us a far better understanding of how we can treat these illnesses and diagnose them in the future.”
To say Neel was shocked to study he was the winner of the competitors when his name was announced would be a “massive understatement.”
“It took a when for me to totally approach what was taking place,” he mentioned. “I spent the complete week with all the other 39 finalists and I felt like every single and every single 1 of them had been far more than deserving of the award. So when I was selected, it was completely unreal and I definitely felt like I was dreaming for a when.”
Neel credits the his practical experience operating with teachers and counselors at Saline Higher College by way of the years for fostering his really like of science and facilitating possibilities for him to earn college credits.
Neel described his practical experience at Saline as “incredible,” highlighted by the help he’s received from math teacher Jennifer Dodge, chemistry teacher Bridgette Sparks and physics teacher Corbin Brown. He also credits higher college counselor Bryan Bruckman as a “very crucial player” in his good results as a student.
“My sophomore year, I truly began taking classes at the University of Michigan and (Bruckman) was the 1 who was capable to organize my schedule in such a way that I would be capable to finish up with my Saline classes and leave and go take classes at UM,” Neel mentioned. “I definitely am quite grateful to have a person like him.”
Whilst Neel plans to use the $250,000 toward earning future college degrees, he is also excited to take pleasure in the remainder of his higher college practical experience just before going to college to continue his function in study and clinical medicine.
As the kid of two parents in the STEM field his concentrate is in the field of science, but Neel says his aforementioned hobbies balance him out in methods that full him as a particular person.
“I just personally think that by focusing quite a great deal on 1 issue – like if I just focused all my focus to study and did practically nothing else – I would be a quite unidimensional particular person,” he mentioned. “I assume it is vital to pursue these various points just for mental properly-becoming and such.”
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