Gitanjali Rao featuring on the cover of Time magazine marked a series of firsts — besides being the magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year, the cover photo was also photographer Sharif Hamza’s “first shoot and cover for Time”.
Sharing the cover, Hamza, an immigrant father to two girls, expressed how 15-year-old Rao was an inspiration. “When I think about role models for my two daughters I can point them towards Gitanjali. An intelligent, charismatic, beautiful young woman who is dedicated to improving the world for others through the application of science,” he captioned the post.
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Indian-American scientist and innovator Rao was selected from a pool of over 5,000 nominees.
In an Instagram post, Time magazine said: “Introducing TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao. Just 15 years old, Rao has been selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees. She spoke about her astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying, and about her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over.”
Prior to this, she had won praise for creating a device ‘Tehys’ that used carbon nanotube sensors to detect lead in water, in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She was named ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ for her invention. In 2019, she made it to Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 list for her innovation.