CHICAGO — A Chicago Public School high school student took the Science Olympiad to an entirely new level.

Nikita Agrawal’s research has not only racked up a ton of awards at both local and international science fairs, but the model she came up with was so impressive that it caught the attention of prominent scientists. 

Nikita, a senior at Whitney Young High School, was serious about not just placing at the CPS Science STEM Exhibit, but making sure her research was impactful. 

“I have this model that can predict where large wildfires will occur and we can then use that model to identify regions of the United States which are susceptible to wildfire risk,” she said.

With her months of research data glued to trifold cardboard it quickly became apparent this was no average entry. 

“She took what other scientists had started and then found new ways of looking at it, interpreting it,” Anna Gallardo, Science Dept. Chair at Whitney Young, said.

“My model was becoming more and more accurate the more data I started feeding into it and that’s when I thought, I’m really onto something,” Nikita said.

Her work caught the attention of not only her science fair peers but prominent international environmental experts when she was invited to present last month at the International Conference on Sustainable Development. 

“It’s one thing to do the science and to do the research but ultimately it is the humanitarian side and the societal part that will be using whatever research and scientific methods are developed,” she said.

She is using her immense remote sensing data to accurately pinpoint specific areas vulnerable to wildfires in hopes her research will make those communities eligible for resources to safeguard them. 

This December Nikita will present at the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco