Student Places First at International Science and Engineering Fair

Jun 08, 2022

Vivek KogilathotaRecent Reedy High School graduate Vivek Kogilathota was a winner at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) for his project “iPonder: A Multimodal and Anonymous Approach to Remote Teen Mental Health Diagnosis and Peer-Based Conversational Therapy via Deep Transfer Learning and Computer Vision.”

Kogilathota has had a long-standing interest in innovation and was interested in tackling depression, a problem he witnessed many students encounter during the pandemic.

As an avid social media user, he found teens expressing negative sentiment online that was seemingly contagious during the height of isolation. He was immediately concerned about the teen mental health crisis he was witnessing and started working on an app to help connect teens. 

The phone app predicts the user's chance of having depression, anxiety or suicidal tendencies based on an algorithm. Using an algorithm created by Kogilathota, the app can also intelligently pair teens for anonymous peer-based supportive conversations.

After an incredible showing at the Dallas Regional Science and Engineer Fair, Kogilathota was invited directly to the International Fair, bypassing the Texas State Fair.

“In certain communities, there is a stigma associated with mental health so students often turn to social media or each other to express their frustrations,” Kogilathota said. “Mental health is really important and I’m interested in helping remove the stigma associated with therapy, but I also understand that teens feel comfortable communicating with teens.

The next evolution of the app would pair users with trained professionals.”

As a first-place winner in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category, Kogilathota won $5,000. 

The ISEF, which is the world’s largest pre-college science fair, includes more than 20 categories spanning engineering, biological sciences, math and physical sciences.

“I would encourage anyone interested in science fairs to get involved,” Kogilathota said. “All it takes is curiosity and motivation in a topic you’re interested in.”

As a Top Ten Reedy graduate, BPA National Champion and National Merit Semifinalist, Kogilathota is headed to the University of Texas at Austin where he plans to double major in Computer Science Honors and Business Honors.

Learn more by watching Kogilathota's presentation.

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