High-tech work wins Valley teen trip to the White House

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A Scottsdale girl was among 35 young science fair winners who came to the White House Monday to showcase breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering and math.

Anvita Gupta devised a special algorithm to identify other medical applications for existing drugs. Her research in tuberculosis is so promising, there are now drugs in clinical trials in China.

Gupta, who is just 17, says she is humbled by her own accomplishments.

“There hasn't been a new tuberculosis drug for 40 years so this is pretty exciting,” Gupta says.

President Obama was so impressed with Gupta's work, he offered her an internship with the White House's Precision Medical Team on the spot.

“It's very mind -blowing. I'm still kind of processing it all,” Gupta says with a smile.

In her free time, Gupta is helping other girls to develop a passion for science. She created an after-school program called LITAS.

“The advice I really give them is to believe in themselves, to never really put themselves down,” Gupta says.

She developed the program after noticing what she describes as a “distinct lack of confidence” in some of her female peers.

“When I took AP computer science, ¾ of the girls in my class dropped out by the end, even though the girls who were dropping out had higher grades than the boys who were staying in the class,” Gupta says.

Gupta hopes she will inspire other girls to pursue careers in computer technology.

“So many of our future jobs are going to be in the area of STEM and computer science,” Gupta says. “If women aren't able to take part in those fields, then they're going to be at a really big disadvantage.”

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