18 Under 18 Highlight: Nikhil Dave

Posted in: 18 Under 18

In our Junior Achievement 18 Under 18 recipients series, we’re next highlighting Nikhil Dave. Imagine already being established in the Alzheimer’s research community before even completing high school. That’s Nik.

We are honored to recognize him. Read on the hear why he was selected as an inaugural Junior Achievement 18 Under 18!

Nikhil Dave, Horizon Honors High School, Phoenix 17 years old

A senior at Horizon Honors High School and a Flinn Scholar, Nikhil has already established himself among the Alzheimer’s disease research community in Arizona. He currently  works with ASU’s Biodesign Institute and has presented papers at scholarly conferences. It’s something he’s been pursuing seriously since the seventh grade.

“I’ve always been interested in the brain, I’ve had this fascination for neuroscience,” he said. “I’ve wanted to understand how this cluster of cells can control a complex organism relatively perfectly.”

After volunteering at a senior living facility, and meeting a patient who had Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Nikhil found his passion. Soon, he found a mentor in Dr. Eric Reiman at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.Soon after their meeting, Reiman invited Nikhil to present his freshman year science fair research proposal at an Alzheimer’s conference. The rest is history. “I’ve been lucky to be blessed to be in a collaborative research committee,” he said. “What I’ve also learned is that there are issues that plague the advancement of science in general. It’s a global issue. There are issues that plague our ability to push science forward.”

What do you want to be doing in 10 years? I definitely see myself doing a Ph.D. and having an impact in research somehow. I’m looking to study molecular and cellular biology and neuroscience. I want to minor in entrepreneurship, and I also want to minor in some sort of philosophy or social change.

Who’s your biggest inspiration? Neil deGrasse Tyson has taken his passion for science and found a way to implement that in other realms in society. He’s impacted society, scientific communication, philosophy, literature, music. I look up to him because he’s found his passion and found a way to have a broad impact.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? Dr. Reiman once told me that in your career, if you have a choice to publish a paper or get an award, or learn a new technique, always learn the new technique. It emphasizes the importance of learning. There’s always time to achieve new things. But learning is what’s really important. Life is all about learning. The most successful people in life are the ones who are constantly learning.