Maya is a 16 year old Ontario high school student. She has been a recipient of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal, Ontario’s Junior Citizen of the Year award, has twice won the Grand Platinum award at Canada’s national science fair for novel discoveries in microbiology and fundamental physics, and has been a finalist at both the Google and Intel International Science Fairs.
After serving on a research expedition to the Arctic a few years earlier, she recently produced an open source Arctic climate change documentary with astronaut Chris Hadfield and novelist Margaret Atwood. She has served as the youngest-ever President of Canada’s largest STEM non-profit organization, leading a team of almost 200 university students to expand the organization from a regional to a national scope, providing a wide range of STEM outreach services to over 120,000 youths from coast to coast.
Maya has been a vocal advocate of women in STEM both nationally and internationally, speaking live at such venues as TEDx, CBC Newsworld’s International Women’s Day, CBC Radio One, Global TV’s Morning show, and CBC’s The National, and she has been featured in the Huffington Post, Microsoft Global Citizenship Initiative, and the season premier of the hit TV show Canada’s Smartest Person. Her hope is to bridge the STEM gender gap by inspiring girls around the world to explore exciting new careers in STEM.
In her spare time, she has tracked near-earth asteroids at an MIT/Caltech run program at an observatory in Colorado and submitted her data to the Harvard-Smithsonian, designed quantum key distribution systems at a summer program at the University of Waterloo, interned at an Artificial Intelligence lab at MIT developing a deep learning system for synthesizing novel materials, measured an elusive quantity of fundamental physics with a professor at the University of Toronto, and, this summer, plans to work at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies to help develop an autonomous robotic wheelchair for quadriplegics before she goes off to attend her first year in university.
Learn more about Maya Burhanpurkar and her views on women in leadership here.