Senior Pranav Chhalliyil Attending World’s Largest International Pre-College Science Competition

On May 12th – 17th the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of the Society for Science & the Public, and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

Maharishi School Senior Pranav Chhalliyil will be attending Intel ISEF for his fifth consecutive year. Pranav was also recently named Honorary Grand Champion at the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, and received an award for 6 years of participation. A total of 5 students are representing the State of Iowa as finalists at Intel ISEF.

Pranav’s project is titled:  “DNA Sequencing of Soil Microbiota From Mulching – A Novel Rotational Fragment Farming for Efficient Agriculture”

“The idea for this project came from my previous research experience on the oral microbiota,” Pranav said,  “which triggered a curiosity on the soil microbiota when I had interesting observations while gardening. I found a higher yield of flowers and vegetables, as well as a higher tolerance to winter frost in perennials after introducing mulching in my home garden.”His project uses DNA sequencing to look at the thousands of bacteria and fungi species which brought diversity in the soil and increased soil fertility.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.

Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $5 million in prizes at Intel ISEF. The competition focuses on identifying, inspiring, and engaging the world’s next STEM generation.

Millions of students in grades 9-12 worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs. The winners of these events go on to participate in 420 Society-affiliated regional and state fairs, from which the top projects are selected and receive opportunity to attend Intel ISEF. Each affiliated fair may send a pre-determined number of projects to Intel ISEF to compete in 22 different categories.

Intel ISEF alumni have gone on to receive some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize, Breakthrough Prize, three National Medals of Science, and six MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and have been involved in some of the most groundbreaking scientific research.

Congratulations to Pranav and we wish him the best of luck!

To learn more about what makes Maharishi School students like Pranav so successful click here.

For more information and updates on Maharishi School and our students follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Pranav’s Success – Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Background of JSHS

During the first week of March, students from across the state of Iowa attended the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), hosted by the Belin-Blank Center at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville, Iowa on March 5-6, 2018. Pranav Chhaliyil of Maharishi School participated in JSHS.

JSHS is a collaborative effort with the research arm of the Department of Defense and is designed to challenge, engage, and publicly recognize high school students conducting scientific research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). JSHS aims to prepare and support students to contribute as future scientists and engineers – conducting STEM research on behalf of, or directly for, the Department of Defense, the Federal research laboratories, or for the greater good in advancing the nation’s scientific and technological progress.

Students completed an original research project and submitted a research paper to the regional competition. The authors of the top 18 papers were invited to compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting their results before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Students also toured various labs and facilities at the University of Iowa to hear about cutting-edge research, potential career paths, and student opportunities.

More About Pranav

After an intensive day of presentations, the judges had the difficult task of selecting five finalists based on their research papers and presentations. Pranav Chhaliyil of Maharishi School placed third in the Regional JSHS competition. State awards:


  • The top five finalists at the Iowa Regional JSHS were awarded academic scholarships and were invited to attend an expense-paid trip to the 54th Annual National Symposium.
  • The Academy of Applied Science distributed $2,000 for first place, $1,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third place at the Iowa Regional Symposium.
  • The University of Iowa awarded $750 scholarships to each of the five Iowa finalists.

The top five finalists at the Iowa Regional Symposium attended an all-expense-paid trip to the 56th National JSHS Symposium which was conducted at Huntsville, Maryland from May 3-6 to present their research and competed for additional prizes.

Pranav’s project was “Metagenomics Analysis of Bedtime Oral Cleaning by the Novel GIFT Method, Shows a Reduction in Dental-Damaging Bacteria”.
Individual students compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of their original research efforts before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Opportunities for hands-on workshops, panel discussions, career exploration, research lab visits and networking are planned. By participating in regional and national symposia, students may participate in a forum honoring individual achievement in STEM and qualify for significant scholarships and other recognition. A total of $192,000 in undergraduate tuition scholarships is presented to the top three finalists in the National Symposium research paper oral competition in each of the subject categories.

About the experience of sharing his findings, Pranav said,“I presented a poster which combined my findings from past three years of research on the oral microbiome. The judges, students, and the general public at the Nationals JSHS were very fascinated and liked the value of my research. The main purpose of my research is to bring awareness on Dental Hygiene, and I’m glad I was able to do that at the competition.
The Nationals JSHS was an amazing experience for me. I was so happy to represent Iowa and meet so many wonderful students with the same interest as me, Science. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I loved presenting to my judges who appreciated my work and motivated me. There were inspiring speeches from people working in the Army and helping the nation through scientific research.

I enjoyed making friends with the bright minds there. There were so many ideas and projects that truly inspired me. I enjoyed spending time my friends and studying with them as well. I loved sharing about my Fairfield community. They were very impressed by Transcendental Meditation and wished they had it at their schools. I am grateful to Maharishi School for their support. Dr. Richard Beall, Ms. Laurie Bauman, Ms. Barbara Hays, and all my teachers who have been a great support and inspiration throughout the years.”

Written by Pranav K. Chhalliyil.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
Fairfield, IA 52556