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University: Currently studying for a BSc degree in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, USA
School: Jayshree Periwal International School, India
Cambridge IGCSEs Additional Mathematics, International Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English First Language, English Literature, Computer Science and Hindi as a Second Language
Future plans: To do laboratory work in the field of neuroscience
Ravishankar attended Jayshree Periwal International School in India for five years where he completed his Cambridge IGCSEs, which included maths and science subjects.
Learning experiences outside the classroom
During Ravishankar’s Cambridge IGCSE Biology course, his teacher informed the class about the Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition – a new global competition that was taking place for the first time in 2019: “My school was really invested in getting students exposure outside the classroom. The competition appealed to four of us and we decided to band together."
The four students already had some experience of working together: “Labs were integrated in our Cambridge IGCSE Biology curriculum and we worked closely enough to know where each other’s strengths lie – mine lie in quantitative analysis. We all needed each other and relied on each other’s strengths.”
Ravishankar and his team members chose to study whether synthetic dyes, like those often used in birthday cake decorations, could have an impact on wellbeing. The students’ food-colour toxicity project won the Best in the World award in the Cambridge competition: “The project findings led us to believe that synthetic food dyes do affect the rate of respiration in baker’s yeast but the process of coming up with an idea, forming a research question and getting to test our own hypothesis was far more fulfilling than obtaining ideal results.”
Getting into university
Ravishankar has always enjoyed mental challenges: “I’ve always had a passion for brain architecture, hence my decision to apply to major in neuroscience at the University of California in the US. The Cambridge name and its association with the University is renowned, so I believe that my Cambridge IGCSEs and the Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition helped boost my application. I would encourage other Cambridge IGCSE students to participate in science competitions to showcase their interest.”
Choosing the right degree path
Ravishankar’s Cambridge experience at school stimulated his interest in lab research work and equipped him with skills he would continue to develop at university: “The Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition motivated me to take more hands-on coursework at university. It was the first academic writing I had attempted and allowed me to understand the scientific method – at university, even the smallest lab reports need to match the scientific rigour of published journals.”
Now in the second year of his BSc in Neuroscience, he is certain that he has chosen the right path: “I absolutely love my course. The ability to ask questions and go in a lab to answer them yourself is remarkable. I am taught by professors who are so enriched in the literature of their topic that they are constant motivators for me to keep learning and exploring.”
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