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Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal Scholarship for Scientific Studies

Funded by
Picture of the donor
The Aggarwal Family
1st winner$1,768
2nd winner$1,766
3rd winner$1,766
Application Deadline
Jul 9, 2024
Winners Announced
Jul 18, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school junior or senior
Financial Status:
3.0 or higher
Field of Interest:
Massachusetts, New Jersey

Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal was a man of science, earning a B.S. in chemistry with an M.S. degree in pharmacological studies from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Columbia University.

Rajesh believed that the pursuit and progress of good and safe scientific advancements was the key to making the world a better place. He loved to share his passion for science and believed that the next generation of scientists must be encouraged to seek answers and find solutions.

This scholarship seeks to support the next great minds of science by helping 6 low-income academically deserving high school students, 3 in Massachusetts and 3 in New Jersey, afford their college education. 

Any low-income high school junior or senior in Massachusetts or New Jersey with a 3.0 GPA or higher and a passion for science may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, give us an example of how creative thinking and science have created an innovative solution to a basic societal challenge.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published March 9, 2024
Essay Topic

Give an example of how creative thinking combined with Science has led to an innovative solution to an everyday societal challenge. 

400–600 words

Winning Application

You Lin
North Quincy High SchoolQuincy, MA
Savannah Jones
Montclair State UniversityCarteret, NJ
Numerous inventive answers to common societal problems have come from the fusion of creative thinking and science. The application of virtual reality technology in the performing arts sector is one such instance. Physical space and financial constraints have historically been constraints on performing arts enterprises. Extensive stages and intricate sets are sometimes needed for large-scale productions, yet these items can be expensive and challenging to transport. Additionally, due to financial or geographic limitations, many people might not have access to live performances. The performing arts sector's innovative minds looked to science for a solution to these problems. The development of immersive, interactive experiences that are accessible from any location in the world is made possible by virtual reality technology. Through the use of VR technology, both performers and audiences are able to transcend physical boundaries and interact in fresh and engaging ways. The Broadway musical "Dear Evan Hansen"'s virtual reality production is a prominent illustration of this innovation. The show's creators collaborated with Google to develop a 360-degree virtual reality experience that let viewers enter the musical's universe and interact with its inhabitants. Anyone with a VR headset may access the experience thanks to Google's Daydream platform, which makes it available to audiences worldwide. This "Dear Evan Hansen" virtual reality performance was able to overcome many of the difficulties encountered by conventional performing arts shows by fusing creative thought with science. No matter where they were in the world, viewers could participate in the show because to the immersive experience provided by VR technology. Additionally, the production was more cost-effective and sustainable because to the use of VR technology, which reduced the need for expensive sets and physical stages. Other performing arts productions are now able to investigate the potential of VR technology because to the success of "Dear Evan Hansen" in the virtual reality space. The performing arts sector has been able to overcome some of its most difficult obstacles and produce fresh and thrilling experiences for audiences all around the world by utilizing the power of creative thought and science. In conclusion, the application of virtual reality technology in the performing arts sector is just one illustration of how innovative solutions to common societal problems can result from the fusion of creative thought and science. We can keep pushing the limits of what is possible in the arts and beyond by embracing new technologies and investigating new creative outlets.
Selena Chen
University of Massachusetts-AmherstBraintree, MA
Currently more than 582,000 individuals are homeless and 37.9 million live in poverty in the United States. This leaves a variety of issues such as overcrowding, lack of housing, and higher rates of crime. However, the state of California has innovated a new approach towards reducing numbers of people who are living on the street. As per Governor Gavin Newsom who plans on funding $30 million dollars for 1,200 homes across California. Tiny homes have the ability to provide a sense of security and shelter for those who are so used to vulnerability. It reduces the rate of crime while also being better for the environment. On average there is a 45% decrease in carbon emissions from a tiny home. While homeless shelters currently exist, they do not provide a secluded environment that is necessary for mental health. Mental health and homelessness connect hand in hand with 45% of homeless people having or had mental illness. While they are tiny, these homes tackle big issues such as homelessness, crime, mental health and environmental problems all in one go. They save space due to their proximity and can also save lives. The average family of 4 lives in a 2,273 square foot house but with tiny houses 6-7 people can live in that space. Homeless shelters are a temporary solution to what is a very imminent problem for millions out there. Expanding the amount of tiny homes can facilitate a transition to a new permanent approach. Most governments push those who are homeless off the streets to other locations and “solve the problem”. But tiny homes are not just a solution, they are a transition to success. Weather is another factor that most people are not aware of. When it is scalding hot and 90 degrees outside, most people casually stroll into their air conditioned homes and relax. Not even pets such as cats and dogs can undergo such extremities. Those who are homeless do not have this luxury and many even die from heat exhaustion or hypothermia among other illnesses. People are hurt or worse lives are lost when it can all be prevented. Construction of these houses can actually save the government money from emergency room visits, legal costs from crimes, and using underutilized land. All of these issues can be prevented with the simple, effective and efficient solution of creating tiny houses. It provides a space for disadvantaged individuals to rehabilitate and build a better future for themselves and society as a whole.
Benjamin Elikem
Rutgers University-NewarkHillside, NJ
My middle school teacher once told me creativity has no boundaries. I never understood what she meant until I got into Highschool. In my junior year of high school, I joined the Math Club at my school. I was fond of the Thomas Edison Pitch Contest because I was curious and interested in their motive. The Thomas Edison Pitch Contest is a contest that makes you think outside the box, come up with new ideas to create anything that would be advantageous to our everyday life activities by making life easy and simple. By this, I was fascinated by the creativity and science behind what was ahead of me. In my junior year, I was very distraught. Covid-19 had become rampant to the point where competing was just out of the books for my school. I just couldn’t wait for my senior year to compete, because I had never been prepared to exhibit hands-on innovative skills like ever before. During my senior year, I spearheaded my team into the competition. I was scared, and felt empty at first, due to the fear of failing or not getting the result we would have hoped for but that didn’t stop me from doing what I love. The time had come when we needed to brainstorm a specific object, we could be innovative with the combination of science around our community. We were given about two weeks to come up with an idea. Over the weekends, I would sometimes take a stroll in my community thinking about something we could possibly create or innovate using scientific methods, but there was nothing. On a Monday morning, as I was walking through the hallways of my school, I was mesmerized about what I saw— the water fountains! The water fountains were all rusted since no one had used it when the school closed down due to Covid-19. I just felt it wasn’t right and something needed to be done. I began thinking about how students use their mouths on and under the water fountains just to drink water. This struck me, as are in a pandemic and it is medically not advisable to put your mouth over rusted steel, just to drink water. So, I began asking myself questions. “What if we created an automated water fountain that detects matter? What if we created something portable that would supply us with water without having to put our mouths under that water outlet? How would we carry this out?”. These questions kept ringing in my head until I discussed it with my teammates. Bacteria are free living organisms that can be found almost everywhere in our environment. And I remember, in the past years, students would complain about stomach aches a lot; they would normally blame the cafeteria, but as I delved deep into this project, I knew it was wrong. The stomach upsets may have been caused by these bacteria because everyone uses their mouths in the fountains— so my teammates and I sought a new way we could prevent this. With the help of the scientific knowledge we gained, we were able to construct a simple automated water fountain that detected any material underneath. We indicated buttons for hot and warm water so one could just place a bottle under it and the water would automatically start to flow. The societal challenges we face would always have solutions if we are creative, my school has over four automated water fountains as of now.
Elayah Toney
Cedar Crest CollegeAllentown, PA
In the innovative time and age that we are in, it's not easy to deem anything impossible. Common technological advancements range from computers to smartphones to fast-paced internet connections. All these inventions were made with creative thinking and a problem that someone thought was worth solving. An interesting innovative solution that has caused an everyday societal challenge to be minimized, can be the not necessarily new, but improved CRISPR.Standing for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, CRISPR is the process of genetic editing the DNA of people to create better chances of health and maximize benefits and minimize the harm to many. It's hard to believe that there would ever be an innovative and effective way to prevent future generations from not having certain diseases but with the help of CRISPR, genetic editing can be made possible. CRISPR is being used, at this time, to create future generations without dire diseases such as sickle cell anemia and breast cancer and to replace those traits with more desirable traits such as blue eyes, long hair, and even the ability to be disease-free. CRISPR is made possible by going into the cell and scanning for the DNA that needs to be edited, it then precisely slices the DNA, like scissors, to fix the sequence gap. This allows genetic makeup to be edited and restored effectively and innovatively. Although the scientific aspect of CRISPR is cool and creative, the main reason for this technology is just as amazing. People with diseases that are bound to pass through generations, can now feel uplifted by the thought that their children will be relieved of the diseases they now face. Reading articles about CRISPR allowed me to get a scientific and parental perspective on CRISPR and understand what these stakeholders are wagering while participating in this jaw-dropping attempt to reform common household issues. Families, who choose not to have children to prevent hereditary diseases from being thrust upon the child's youth, can now thrive in the possibility of having healthy children who have strictly desirable traits. Those who suffer from sickle cell, which affects 100,000 Americans, can now feel relieved in their everyday lives because of this innovation. Like every great scientific invention, the ethical aspect always brings a whole different perspective into play for these situations. In the case of CRISPR, people wonder should parents be able to modify the genes of their future children with desirable traits? Would it be ethical to modify a child to have certain traits? Many can argue that yes it would be ethical, desirable traits to allow the child to be disease-free and have great genetics which can allow their future children to also flourish so CRISPR is an immediate decision. Others see CRISPR as a way to single out those who have certain traits that are being deemed undesirable and even push those who have certain traits to be pushed to the side by doctors and scientists. This creative innovation allows the generations to come to have something to dwell on, indulge themselves in and even ask more questions about which means this solution is not only innovative and creative but can influence others to be innovative and creative in the future. Thank you for your time, Elayah Toney.
Amanda Bellassai
University of Massachusetts-DartmouthPlymouth, MA
An example of how creative thinking combined with Science has led to an innovative solution to an everyday societal challenge is when I use a bungee cord to attach my backpack to my walker at school. I try to be as independent as I can be but living with a rare disorder called Morquio hasn't made that easy. Morquio is a rare genetic disorder that I was diagnosed with at age three. I lack an enzyme (deficiency of N-acetylgalactosamine-6-sulfate sulfatase (GALNS). What this means is that my bones are weak and don't grow as fast as someone without them would. I'm eighteen years old and I've had eleven surgeries. I am three foot three and have a hard time getting from class to class. I have a scooter that I can use at school but when I use it I don't walk as much and my legs get weaker. I decided that the best thing I can do is walk at school. It helps me but I cannot walk all day with my bag without feeling achy and tired so I use a walker. That didn't solve the problem completely. Even though I leave class early to avoid the busy hall I still need a way to get my bag to class. Sometimes I have a friend or classmate carry my bag but that doesn't help the fact that I like to do things on my own. The solution is a simple bungee cord. My backpack sits on the back of the walker while the bungee cord holds it into place. This helps me in multiple ways. I can now get from class to class on my own, continue walking, and I also get stronger arms since my bag is heavy to me. That's one of the many ways that creative thinking combined with Science has led to an innovative solution to an everyday challenge. Other ways include automatic doors in buildings, Ramps in public places, and semi-autonomous scooters. These things help disabled people navigate the world but they can also be improved. The automatic doors could have buttons that could be bigger or there could be multiple so that people of all heights could reach and open the doors. The ramps are great! They help when wheels need to cross the street or get into place. The only improvement to be made there would be to have more ramps so that we don't need to go all around the block to find one and so that all buildings are accessible. Instead of having a big ramp in front of a small shop, there should be a portable ramp that store owners or workers can easily assemble or move so that everyone can enter. Semi-autonomous scooters should be better priced so that people who already are spending lots of money on medications or hospital visits for their disorder can afford the scooter. I am majoring in engineering next year and hope to make these things a reality.
Serli Jabnian
Pasadena City CollegeGLENDALE, CA
Ten, nine, eight, seven…sedated and monitored. Pain-free procedures and unconscious patients. An invention that we often don’t acknowledge the privilege and luxury of having. Whether injected into the bloodstream or inhaled as a gas, anesthesia has allowed medical surgeries to become routine-based procedures rather than a last resort. Patients had to be strapped by several people while screaming in agony and surviving the blinding pain of a scalpel. Anesthesia is a historical invention that changed the lives of millions of people and created a breakthrough in medical practices that brought an end to an everyday-societal challenge. The search for pain-relief substances was a goal for thousands of years. The first attempts to develop anesthesia can be dated back to the Assyrians more than 5,000 years ago. They invented herbal sedation recipes which included a psychedelic combination of belladonna, a toxic herbaceous plant that has psychoactive effects. At the same time, Egyptians utilized opium poppies for sedating purposes. However, how anesthesia became a solution for an everyday challenge can be attributed to the experiments of Joseph Priestley. His experiments included pouring nitric acid over brass, known as nitric oxide, and mixing this gas with iron fillings and mercury to form nitrous oxide. The developments of this gas didn’t occur until Humphry Davy left his education to study Priestley’s work on gases. He found that breathing nitrous gas produced euphoria instead of it being deadly. As described by Davy, “[the gas] appears capable of destroying physical pain and might be advantageous during surgery”. His work encouraged Gardner Colton, a showman and a former medical student, to demonstrate the effects of nitrous oxide on his volunteer when he injured his leg showing no signs of pain. Amazed by Colton’s demonstrations, Horace Wells, an American dentist, pioneered the use of nitrous oxide in tooth extraction procedures. However, his unsuccessful trip to Boston to demonstrate the use of anesthetics gave his colleague, William Morton, the chance to demonstrate the use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic in 1846. After that, the use of ether spread rapidly. John Snow, a leader in the development of anesthesia, popularized chloroform. As a result, nitrous oxide was used in thousands of dental procedures. Not only was inhaled anesthetics being developed, but also local and regional anesthesia had its popularity. Developments include cocaine, morphine, strychnine, and brucine. They demonstrate results when introduced into a wound. In 1905, procaine was introduced that was used in nerve blockage which its study continues to this day. Spinal anesthesia and epidurals were made possible. In the 1930s, tracheal intubation was performed to secure a patient’s airway and deliver ventilation to the lungs. Studies in tracheal intubation and securing ventilation led to the use of paralyzing agents known as neuromuscular blocking substances. Moreover, Harold Griffith and Enid Johnson reported the first successful abdominal muscle relaxant in 1942. Over time, more anesthetics were being developed and utilized—the use of chloroform, halothane, enflurane, and isoflurane, IV drugs like etomidate and propofol were also introduced which made injected anesthesia possible. In 1926, John Lundy introduced balanced anesthesia—multiple drugs used to attain unconsciousness, pain control, and muscle relaxation to produce the ideal of general anesthetics. Today, workstations are fully equipped with monitoring machines, portable gas tanks, ventilators, and respirometers making anesthesia safe to administer, changing the lives of millions of people and allowing medical procedures and innovations to be made possible.
Elizabeth Mickens
Bard CollegeSpringfield, MA
Social innovation is the key to solving the most challenging, historic problems of our time. Societal issues can include the following challenges: health, demographic change and wellbeing; food insecurity, sustainable agriculture; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport. There are many ways that creativity and "out of the box" thinking combined with Science have led to innovations to affect societal change. Nicknamed by some as the “Uber for tractors,” Hello Tractor is a social enterprise that enables farmers to request service from neighboring “Smart Tractor” owners via SMS text messaging. To improve food and income security for rural farmers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, Hello Tractor, Inc designed low-cost Smart Tractors to address farmers’ unique needs, complete with equipment to use for various crops throughout the year. I see my doctor and therapist through Telehealth Apps. “Telehealth” refers to the broad variety of healthcare and health education services delivered through technology. Telemed Medical Services aims to bring “telehealth” to many underserved communities worldwide. Enhancing creativity and developing technology skills in the classroom are the future of education and can turn out to be powerful tools to smooth out inequalities in our schools. Creative programs like "Black Girls That Code" build pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology. I am a part of this life changing, innovative group. Radical action is needed if we are to close the opportunity gap for Black women and girls. This group leads a global movement to establish equal representation in the tech sector. Black Girls CODE is devoted to showing the world that Black girls can code and do so much more. They are creating stronger economies and more equitable societies—ultimately realizing the true potential of democracy through diversity and inclusion. Having access to STEM programs combined with the visual and performing arts in our schools can be a game changer for creativity, technology, and science based projects and learning. The switch to digital has prompted high-speed social and economic changes on a global scale. The pandemic has changed how we meet and how we interact. Recent research in the arena of computer-supported collaborative learning points out to the fact that technology provides a set of tools that can enrich the learning context and nurture social creativity processes. Online settings, mobile tools, and digital blackboards are clear-cut and distinct examples of technologically-rich learning media. Such media can support successful teaching and learning practices while catalyzing skills such as creativity, cooperation, collaboration, or communication. For the past two years, since being locked down and sheltered in place, I have had to create space and opportunity for my art, dance, and creativity. Tools such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams have aided and assisted me with my artistry and reaching out to others. The rise and relevance of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, Math) has had a definite impact in solving current social challenges in creative and novel ways. Science based subjects are potentially creative social environments since they favor interaction of a series of factors including domain-specific knowledge, divergent thinking, imagination and visualization, and a social dimension. These aspects can be developed through different pedagogical approaches that have been reported to enhance creativity in science classrooms, namely creative writing, inquiry-based or problem-based learning, and video gaming. Collaborative creativity skills are in great demand in the current global and digital knowledge society and should be implemented taking into account all students in order to give them all the opportunity to play an active role.
Logan Fontaine
Springfield CollegePalmer, MA
Creative thinking combined with science has lead to numerous discoveries over history, and it could easily be argued that the most important part of discovery is not shear knowledge or intelligence, but an open mind and determination. Our current world is facing dozens of large issues at the current time, such as disease, global warming, and natural disasters. To solve these issues we need not only creativity, but to come together as humans across the globe. One idea that represents innovative solutions is a Photovoltaic Balloon created in 2013 by three French scientists. The balloon is able to supply solar energy to areas ravaged by natural disasters. Natural disasters are becoming more and more common unfortunately due to various man-created scenarios. Along with the destruction these disasters cause, the people in the areas are left without food, water and power, for hours to weeks after the disasters. This is a imminent problem because not only are these things essential to survival after a disaster, many people have specific circumstances such as having insulin that needs to be refrigerated. Imagine a scenario where a large hurricane leaves your diabetic family member without insulin because rescue groups can't reach you in time or from where you are. These scenarios where electricity is needed are exactly where the Zephyr balloon comes in to save the day. The balloon uses water to inflate in an encampment after a disaster. The film made of copper, indium, gallium and selenide that makes up the balloon allows for it to capture solar energy. The energy travels down the cable that connects it to the base where several large batteries are charged. The balloon can also travel high into the atmosphere and withstand winds of 43 mph. The balloon systems are relatively simple to create and they inflate in under an hour. The Zephyr provides useful generators for less intense storm scenarios too, that are also eco-friendly, unlike most generators powered by gasses. If these generators were produced and kept in areas often ravaged by disasters and/or dropped into areas after disasters, this could lead to large encampments of survivors getting electricity and potentially save hundreds of lives. The real exciting part of this creation is how unique it is. Generators are very static objects that are traditionally cubes that use gasses to create electricity. The creator of the Zephyr, Karen Assaraf, took a huge leap forward in imagining a balloon that could generate solar power instead of another eco-friendly rendition of the traditional model. The creativity Assaraf used in this invention not only made something more practical that other similar creations but something that is more eco-friendly. The Zephyr generator is an incredible idea that we can only hope if further developed and eventually rolled out across the world. Since the Zephyr was first designed in 2013, it appears that the team working on it has creating several functioning models. While the Zephyr is an exciting creation it remains just one idea of hundreds. The overall growth of creative thinking and science working together is just starting to have an effect on the modern world. As the world continues to face larger issues, we should support and work to come up with our own ideas for creative scientific solutions to everyday issues.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 9, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jul 18, 2024.