Athni finalist for science, humanities symposium

Sophomore Tejas Athni was selected as a state finalist for the Georgia Junior Science & Humanities Symposium. (Photo courtesy of Tejas Athni)

By DEEP PATEL, Gazebo Assistant Editor

Despite having a full course load this year, Stratford sophomore Tejas Athni found time in his busy schedule to conduct independent research at Fort Valley State University.

His hard work paid off.

Athni was selected as a state finalist for the Georgia Junior Science & Humanities Symposium.

According to the organization, a student must “submit a paper on an original research investigation in the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics.”

Athni wrote his paper on “the reproductive barriers of two rare, medicinal scutellaria species.”

His research deals with two plants that have many medical properties but are currently threatened or endangered. Athni’s study attempts to discover which factors are to blame for this threat.

Athni’s interest in science originated in middle school.

“In seventh grade, Mrs. Susan Hanberry (Martin), made me really interested to learn more about plants, botany and plant sciences,” he said.

During his freshmen year, Athni’s growing passion led him to shadow college student Auriel Wright for several days at Fort Valley State University.

Wright taught him how to work in a lab and conduct laboratory tests following the correct procedures.

“I was motivated to begin my own project with the knowledge I gained from Mrs. Hanberry’s class and Auriel Wright,” Athni said.

Later that year, he came under the mentorship of Professor Nirmal Joshee at Fort Valley State University during the summer.

Athni will now make his way to the University of Georgia later this month and compete in hopes of advancing to the next level as a national finalist.

Athni is also certified in CPR and took the initiative to begin a Stratford Middle School CPR program. He said he has always been interested in medicine and that this was a good place to start.