December Youth of the Month Winner Uses Innovation and Creativity to Tackle Global Environmental Issues

By Jessie Mitchell

Ankush Dhawan has dedicated the last five years of his academics to scientific research that offers solutions to environmental health issues such as water contamination and global warming. The Signature School junior does all of this while balancing a variety of extracurriculars and athletics. His selfless attitude and his creativity and innovation in the classroom earned him December’s Youth of the Month honors.

Nominator and science teacher Sara Killebrew says in her twenty years of teaching, Ankush is one of the most selfless and ingenious young people she has had an honor to work with. Killebrew, a teacher at Castle North Middle School, said Ankush has developed projects relating to global warming and generating electricity from mud using electrogenic bacteria, to name a few.

“In addition to multiple projects aimed at helping third world countries find inexpensive sources of energy, water filtration, and arsenic detection, Ankush continues to work on a project for the reduction of carbon dioxide using catalysis to aid with global warming. His efforts are endless and tireless due to his fervor for humankind,” Killebrew said.

Ankush’s passion for people like those of Flint, Michigan, who have had to suffer from lead contamination, and those in Bangladesh, who have dealt with arsenic contamination, motivated him to develop water filtration based on the use of a graphene oxide.

“I am very involved with science research. I enjoy the creativity, exploration and experimentation that helps solve and provide new information, especially for the betterment of the environment. For the last several years, I have conducted research through science projects aimed at helping the environment and solving problems in third world countries related to possible resources of energy, water filtration and Arsenic detection,” Ankush said.

Ankush has received numerous awards and honors for his accomplishments. He was awarded a silver medal in ISWEEP (International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environmental Project) in April 2017, an award that only two students from Indiana qualified for. He was named a Top Young Scientist for Indiana in March 2018 and an Intel International finalist for two years in a row.

“At this competition, I met students form over 80 countries who shared their respective research in many different fields. It was an amazing experience. Making it to this international fair was one of my proudest moments,” Ankush said.

Aside from his many academic accomplishments, Ankush is President of Robotics Club and Chess Club, Vice President of Physics Club and Basketball Club, and a member of Math Club and Student Council. He has also been actively involved in three of Youth Resources’ programs: Teen Advisory Council, Make a Difference Grants and Vanderburgh County Teen Court.

When asked about his involvement in TAC, Ankush said, “I am happy to be part of an organization where I am able to serve the community in multiple ways. Service is a part of the culture at Signature School as well. TAC has been a great community where I have fostered friendships with like-minded students from different schools who are also committed to service.”

However, even though Ankush is highly accomplished in science and academics, he remains humble, prioritizing building relationships and helping others.

“Although Ankush has had numerous notable accomplishments, he exhibits a modest demeanor and does not esteem himself at a higher level than those around him. Ankush’s motivation is his desire to help others is based on his love for humankind, not the quest of rewards or recognition. He works diligently to help those around him, and inspires those around him to not just do more but to do it well,” Killebrew said.

Ankush is not yet certain where he will attend college, but is interested in pursuing chemistry or environmental engineering at this time.

To nominate a student ages 5-18 for Youth of the Month, click here.