Amita ShuklaSchool: Centennial High SchoolHometown...


January 03, 1994

Amita Shukla

School: Centennial High School

Hometown: Ellicott City

Age: 17

Toothpaste companies claim their products can stop the spread of gingivitis, a gum disease that affects three-quarters of the adult population. This Centennial senior is working on another solution, one that includes the use of an Asian nut that has done wonders as a home remedy for her 72-year-old grandmother, who Amita says has great teeth.

Amita's in the middle of a three-year research project to study whether the acid in the nut -- whose scientific name is querus infectoria oliv -- can help prevent or slow the disease. As part of her research, she is working with a mentor from the University of Maryland dental school in Baltimore.

Scientists have taken notice of her research. The American Society of Microbiology last year awarded her a first-place standing at the Baltimore Science Fair, where she also was given an honors award from the American Chemical Society and a second-place award from the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense.

Amita comes from a family of scientists: Her father is a biochemist, and her mother, a chemist. She was born in Germany and lived in Finland and India until she came to America four years ago. She is fluent in German and Hindi, as well as in English.

Amita has distinguished herself in more ways than one. She was second in last year's Howard Community College High School Speech Tournament and won a nationwide essay contest sponsored by the National Capitol Historical Society. She had written a research paper on the history of the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health.

At school, she holds a 4.0 grade point average and heads the speech and debate team. She writes and edits for the school newspaper, Wingspan, and for the school literary magazine, Aquila. She is also Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalist, a National Merit semifinalist and a National Honor Society member.

Plans: She's interested in a career in medicine, as well as in journalism.

Her comments: "Having seen so many different cultures, I realize how alike they are. Sometimes I don't think I belong anywhere. But after having come here, I realize I belong anywhere, and that I'm a citizen of the world and not of any particular place."

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