Fifteen-year-old Rahi Punjabi has had an exciting year. His research on the efficacy of garlic in reducing bacterial infection in patients with cystic fibrosis won him first-place honors at the Massachusetts State High School Science & Engineering Fair in May. The same project nabbed a fourth place at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, and led to a coveted opportunity for Rahi to participate in the 2012 National BioGENEius Challenge earlier this week.
Rahi had the chutzpah early in the course of his research to contact researchers at UMass Medical School to inquire about working in their labs during his school vacations. Dr. Beth McCormick, professor of microbiology and physiological systems, felt compelled by his email. "One of the reasons I’m in academia is to encourage those who show an interest in science,” she said. “Because he obviously showed such talent, I thought I would be doing him and the Medical School a disservice if I didn’t try to help him achieve his goals and nurture his abilities.” Rahi will work as an intern at UMass Medical School labs this summer.