Hi! I’m Arunima, a 20-year-old innovator, designer, and climate activist from Bangalore, India. I enjoy work that is multidisciplinary in nature, and my past work has spanned several disciplines, including environmental and climate science, urban design and sustainability, and technology.
As a climate activist, I’ve been on important youth-focused panels and led conversations on climate justice and conveyed the importance of climate action, and as an innovator, I've collaborated with international peers to design and develop solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. For my work, I’ve been the recipient of several international and national awards — including the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement), the highest civilian honor for Indian citizens under the age of 18, MPower Financing Women in STEM Grand Award, the Distinguished Student Award from the New York Academy of Sciences — and been named a 2020 Global Teen Leader of the We Are Family Foundation and one of The Mars Generation’s 24 under 24 Innovators in STEAM and Space. I’ve given talks at popular forums like Imperial College London's Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, MAKERS, TEDx, Kyoorius Designyatra, Salesforce, and All India Radio.
Currently, I’m a sophomore at Ashoka University studying Computer Science, Physics, and Environmental Science.
national geographic society and the nature conservancy
As a Research Extern with the National Geographic and The Nature Conservancy, I investigated the problem of microplastics pollution in the Indian Ocean. I conducted a gap analysis of the infeasibility of the existing methods to detect and analyze microplastics, hypothesized remote sensing applications for detecting microplastics in the Indian Ocean, and proposed a solution to fill the data gap pertaining to microplastics
indian school of development management
I worked with the Chief Digital Officer of ISDM on building the tech infrastructure for ISDM’s overall engagement with the development and management sectors. My work included an integrated approach to designing the tech infrastructure for blended learning programs and an advanced co-learning platform with online access to resources
international summer school for young physicists scholar
perimeter institute for theoretical physics
In the summer of 2019, I was selected as one of the 30 students overall and 15 students internationally to attend the International Summer School for Young Physicists, a two-week program for high school students and incoming college freshmen interested in Theoretical Physics, with full financial aid and scholarship that covered tuition, accommodation, and travel expenses
yale young global scholar
I was chosen to attend the Applied Science and Engineering (ASE) session of the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program, a highly competitive academic enrichment program for high school students, at Yale University in the summer of 2018 with a full scholarship. In addition to attending seminars in diverse subjects, I completed a capstone project on Cleaning Ocean Garbage Debris and I was selected as one of the ten speakers from a pool of 100+ students for the YYGS ASE and IAS Speaker Series held at the esteemed Yale Law School
laboratory for electro-optics systems @ isro
I interned at the Thin Films, MEMS, and Detector group at LEOS of the Indian Space Research Organization and researched on the quantum efficiency of silicon photodiode and solar cell using vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers
I interned at Salesforce in the summer of 2017 under the Girls in Tech initiative and developed an interactive management system using different Salesforce tools. I was invited to Salesforce’s annual kick-off meeting in 2019 as a guest speaker
member of the junior academy
the new york academy of sciences
I was accepted to the Junior Academy, a selective online research program for high school students with an acceptance rate of 10%, in my sophomore year of high school. Since then, I have collaborated with international students and co-developed 12 projects. I was a part of the winning teams of three challenges and a part of the finalist teams in four challenges. You can read more about my involvement with the Academy here
Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (erstwhile National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement) in Innovation
I received the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, the highest civilian honor for Indian citizens under the age of 18, for my exceptional achievements in the field of innovation. I was one of the 6 winners and the only female awarded in this field. I received this award from the Hon'ble President of India, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind at the presidential residence, Rashtrapati Bhawan, on the 22nd of January. I, along with other awardees, also had an interaction with the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi at his residence on the 24th of January.
Besides being conferred with a gold medal and a cash prize of INR 100,000, I was also given a book voucher worth INR 10,000, a certificate, and citation. The awardees were also a part of the historic Indian Republic Day parade.
2020 Global Teen Leader
I was selected as one of the thirty-five 2020 Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation for my work in sustainable buildings and urban development. Three Dot Dash is a global youth initiative of We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) and it is a year-long social entrepreneur incubator and mentoring program designed to amplify the work of young people successfully addressing issues related to basic human needs (education, environment, food, health, safety, shelter, water), and having a positive impact on global communities. An excerpt from their press release: “We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) is proud to announce the 2020 Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders (GTLs), representing 18 countries on 6 continents. Carefully selected and curated from hundreds of applicants, these thirty-five (35) 15 – 19 year-old teens are innovating technologies and harnessing creativity to positively impact the world. They are engineering sustainable skyscrapers, developing urban gardens, healing relationships between communities and the police, and developing tools to detect serious illnesses, as they demand a lead role in shaping our future”
MAKERS India — RecordMAKER and Speaker
MAKERS India is an initiative by Verizon Media to celebrate ‘Women Who Make India’. I was profiled and published as a MAKER, who, according to their website, is “a key personality, an icon, and/or a trailblazer, who has inspired change and influenced the community towards betterment, innovation, and positivity”. I was given the title of a RecordMAKER. At the MAKERS Conference in 2021, I spoke alongside female founders and CEOs and led a discussion on ”STEM Mindset: The Key to A Better Future for Girls in India”. The speakers lineup for the conference included Nivruti Rai [Country Head, Intel India], Debjani Ghosh [President, NASSCOM], Abhijit Bose [Head of WhatsApp India], and other prolific speakers.
Grand Winner of the Infosys Science Foundation Nutrition Challenge
With a team of four other students, I participated in the Infosys Science Foundation Nutrition Challenge conducted in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences. The participants were required to come up with a solution to effectively combat malnutrition among expectant mothers and children under the age of five. Our project revolves around a cheap but impactful dissolvable nutrient pod that acts as an effective supplement to meals. We created a pod cased in monosol that contains nutrients (like iron, omega 3, and folate) required by children under the age of six and care-taking mothers. We plan to deliver these pods through the Anganwadi centers and state-run canteens to increase our outreach to improve overall nutrition levels in India. We also created a distribution algorithm that creates an index that determines which states need the most funding to tackle malnutrition. There were around 3000 participants in this challenge and our team emerged as the best team across India.
We were awarded by Prof. Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics and Mr. Mohandas Pai at the Infosys Prize Ceremony. I received an educational scholarship of INR 500,000 and an all-expenses-paid visit to the Indian Space Research Organisation to witness the launch of PSLV-C45.
Grand Winner of the United Technologies Future of Buildings and Cities Challenge
With a team of international high school students, I participated in the Future of Buildings and Cities Challenge sponsored by the United Technologies Corporation and designed an energy-efficient skyscraper for both residential and commercial use with a low carbon footprint on the environment. The skyscraper features all modern conveniences that enhance the well-being of occupants while merging nature and technology to promote a green lifestyle.
We were chosen as the grand winner out of the numerous teams that participated in the challenge. We received the grand award of $7500 and all-expenses-paid trips to West Palm Beach, Florida and New York City where we interacted with United Technologies and attended the Global STEM Alliance Summit of the New York Academy of Sciences respectively.
Grand Award Winner of the Big Data Challenge
I worked with an international team and analyzed the relationship between barley yields in the United States and climate change factors using open data and data analysis techniques. We developed a system — using IoT and data science — for farmers to use data-backed decisions to maximize yields. My team was chosen as the grand winner of the Big Data Challenge sponsored by Medidata, Regeneron, and STEM Fellowship.
Speaker at Kyoorius Designyatra 2019
I was the youngest among 26 speakers at Kyoorius Designyatra 2019, India’s largest design and innovation conference. I had the honor to share the stage alongside accomplished designers like David Carson, Timothy Goodman, and Paul Sahre. I spoke about my passion for sustainability, my collaborative project on smart and sustainable buildings, design thinking, and contrarianism.
Grand Winner of the MPower Financing Women in STEM Scholarship
At age 17, I was the youngest recipient ever an MPower Financing Scholarship. I received this award alongside a Harvard Medical Student. The Women in STEM Scholarship, valued worth USD 5000, will help me cover my tuition expenses. As per their website, they “designed this scholarship program to focus on women who will use their STEM degree to benefit society and the planet and who have the potential to serve as role models and advocates for women in STEM”.
Distinguished Student Award of the New York Academy of Sciences
In my involvement with the New York Academy of Sciences, I co-developed several STEM research projects with international peers which include: a device to non-invasively determine micronutrient levels in organisms, a prototype of an energy-efficient solar hybrid bus, a smart and sustainable green building, predictive analytics for optimizing barley yield in the United States, a sensor-based technology to detect and control poaching, a novel data-driven intervention model to combat malnutrition in India, an integrated wildfire prediction and containment system, and an integrated aircraft system to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and produce additional energy using HPEV systems. You can read more about the projects in the 'Projects' section. I was the grand winner of three challenges — UTC Future of Buildings and Cities Challenge, Big Data Challenge, Infosys Science Foundation Nutrition Challenge — and a finalist in four challenges - Human-Wildlife Conflict Challenge, Challenge 2030, UTC Aerospace Challenge and Wildfires Challenge.
I was invited to New York and Florida on all-expenses-paid-trips two consecutive years in a row to present my projects to eminent personalities including Nobel Laureates and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, I was accredited as a Young Member for having proved personal and educational commitment in the field of STEM and I also served as the Bicentennial Ambassador of the Academy for spreading the word about the importance of supporting scientific research, STEM education, and science literacy around the globe.
I frequently speak on my experiences as a BIPOC woman in STEM, environmental and climate action, and innovation, and I’m happy to explore the possibility of speaking at your event. Feel free to get in touch with me!
Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum’s GOALS for Girls Summer Technology and Engineering Program (August 2021)
Youthtopia World Workshop on Invention for Change with Joshua Oluwaseyi (Climate Activist featured on Teen Vogue 21 under 21) (June 2021)
Dawson Summer Initiative (June 2021)
MAKERS Conference, India (March 2021)
Global Awareness Movement’s Panel on Climate Change and Climate Justice (November 2020)
Global Innovation and Youth Leaders Summit (September 2020)
Young Leaders Alliance of the Global Awareness Movement (August 2020)
Kyoorius Designyatra 2019 (September 2019)
TEDxISBR Bangalore (April 2019)
homestead green: designing the buildings of tomorrow
Designed an energy-efficient skyscraper for both residential and commercial use with a low carbon footprint on the environment, featuring all modern conveniences that enhance the well-being of occupants while merging nature and technology to promote a green lifestyle. The skyscraper integrates various sustainable technologies and green walls which will contribute to the fauna adaptation in the urban environment. Press mentions: Impact 6 teens designed this wacky green building of the future (Fast Company), Challenge Winners Passionate about Creating Sustainable Solutions (New York Academy of Sciences)
Team Members: Darius Filip (Romania), Bani Singh (Norway), Ioana-Elena Tarabasanu (Romania), Sachin Dangi (Nepal), Irhum Shafkat (Bangladesh), Arunima Sen (India)
Created a solution to effectively combat malnutrition among expectant mothers and children under the age of five in India. Podible is a cheap but impactful dissolvable nutrient pod that acts as an effective supplement to meals. The pod, cased in monosol, contains nutrients (like iron, omega 3, and folate) required by children under the age of five and care-taking mothers. Also created a distribution algorithm that creates an index that determines which states need the most funding to tackle malnutrition. Press mentions: Infosys Science Foundation Nutrition Challenge
Team Members: Leela Jay (USA), Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran (India), Prithve Shekar (India), Sandeep Rao (India), Arunima Sen (India)
pets: poaching elimination and tracking system
Developed a sensor-based technology to detect and control poaching. The technology consists of a low-cost monitoring system that can identify poachers without requiring human interference. The system will use infrared cameras to differentiate between animals and humans, and alert nearby animals if unauthorized humans, most-likely poachers, trigger one of the systems.
Team Members: Abdallah Sabah (Egypt), Margaret Gates (USA), Ioana-Elena Tarabasanu (Romania), Vaibhav Chetty (Scotland), David Oliveira (Brazil), Arunima Sen (India)
swipacs: smart wildfire integrated prediction and containment system
Designed a prototype of an integrated wildfire prediction and containment system. The system consists of an effective machine learning model, chemical suppressants and retardants, rods, and drones.
Team Members: Abdallah Sabah (Egypt), Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran (India), Margaret Gates (USA), Rishabh Java (UAE), Vikram Mishra (India), Arunima Sen (India)
predictive analytics for barley yields
Analyzed the relationship between barley yields in the United States and climate change factors using open data and data analysis techniques and devised a solution - using IoT and data science - to increase yield. Developed a system for farmers to use data-backed decisions to maximize yields. The solution implements IoT which uses sensors and internet connectivity to gather and analyze data.
Team Members: Archi Parekh (USA), Kevin McManus (Mexico), Javier Arevalo (Guatemala), Arunima Sen (India)
luminosity: sustaining life for space exploration
Designed a self-sustaining, sustainable, ethical, and durable lunar settlement with deep-learning support systems. We prototyped a moisture sensor built with an Arduino Uno to determine the feasibility of growing crops on the lunar surface. With the same sensor, we developed an Arduino-based automated irrigation system that optimizes irrigation scheduling and frequency by detecting soil moisture levels and corresponding temperatures and humidity levels to ascertain plant health. A detailed presentation can be found here: Luminosity – Final Solution
Team Members: Lauren Trute (Australia), Athena Yao (USA), Lara-Louise Bevan-Shiraz (UK), Robyn An (South Korea), Sthuthi Satish (India), Arunima Sen (India)
energia solar fahrzeug
Designed a prototype of an energy-efficient solar hybrid bus to achieve the UN SDGs. Used Li-ion batteries to store solar energy and HEPA filters for air purification and conditioning.
ESF aims to reduce direct pollution, combat the issue of traffic jams by offering people a clean-air, comfortable, and efficient alternative to personal transportation, and act towards alleviating the drastic climate change brought in recent years.
Team Members: Miruna-Elena Vlad (Romania), Havana Key-Menezes (India), Humfrey Kimanya (Tanzania), Thangam Ann (USA), Arunima Sen (India)
spectronutrient: spectrophotometric analysis of micronutrients
Conceptualized a device using Arduino Pro Mini to determine the micronutrient levels in a body from strands of hair by the process of spectrophotometry. We concluded that measurement of micronutrients can be accurately determined in a custom-made hair solution using a spectrophotometry device with an easy, accurate and inexpensive procedure to fulfill needs for better data from South-East Asia, Africa, and India.
Team Members: Natalia Sikora (Poland), Ronja Holopainen (Finland), Evan Batov (USA), William Edmonds (USA), Arunima Sen (India)