Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Pritvik Sinhadc, a scientist and climate activist who has conducted research at the BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science as a RISE Global Winner. Let’s learn what’s been happening at BEYOND and how Pritvik is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Pritvik! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your project at the BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science?
Pritvik: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Throughout my community, I've witnessed colossal ecological upheavals caused by premeditated environmental negligence. Our climate crisis stakeholders are not just scientific communities, but also global policy leaders and the public. Aiming to decode detrimental effects of anthropogenic climate change on current species and to create comprehensible predictive frameworks to stem today's calamities, I launched ‘Network and Assembly Theory Models of Mass Extinctions.’ The challenge was to decrypt atmospheric data and fossil records via mathematical models, detect molecular signatures of future mass extinctions, pinpoint stressors that aggravate disasters, spot species affected by this degradation, and constrain impact of catastrophes on biodiversity.
Spiffy: That is no small undertaking! What motivated you to do it?
Pritvik: I've always been interested in how our world changed over time, from Earth’s perilous formation to the last Ice Age that wreathed our northern hemisphere in a blanket of ice. So, when I learned that man-made increase in greenhouse gasses is causing global temperature spikes leading to a sixth mass extinction, I knew I had to act. I looked not just at inferring trends from past extinctions, but also took a quantitative approach using statistical models to get concrete formalisms on the causes and effects of atmospheric, geologic, and extrasolar phenomena affecting our world. I then used the data to identify potential triggers degrading ecosystems, developed policy networks, and offered targeted solutions to stem current extinctions.
Spiffy: How would you say that your project is working towards a more equitable world?
Pritvik: Vulnerable communities rely on ecosystems. If they are threatened by climate crises, there will be inevitable ecological collapse. By using data from past mass extinctions, my aim is to map all possible signs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse to predict future extinctions much before any cataclysmic event takes place, thereby allowing equity-based community healing. Being a Rise Global Winner has helped me network with fellow scholars, scientists, and my community to develop a policy for restoring our eco-heath based on scientific evidence backed up by millions of years of historical data. My findings will also act as a societal basis for a better delineation of what we as individuals can do in this fight against climate change.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Pritvik: I received positive feedback from my BEYOND group on the methods I used to decode accurate solutions based on quantitative past histories to constrain the very same threats we face today. This gave me a platform to present my project in group sessions at BEYOND, which helped fine tune and validate the feasibility of my project. I then shared my findings within my locality. Using the data I collated, I explained how proliferating plant life and photosynthesis may modulate carbon dioxide concentration and toxic greenhouse gasses, thereby stemming future calamities. This motivated my community to engage in a dialogue on the effects of mass deforestation humanity has caused and the possibility of biodiversity restoration movements to curb global warming.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?
Pritvik: I was once tasked to tackle eutrophication, which occurs when pollutants and nutrients run off from farmlands leading to algal bloom. Eventually, anoxic disasters and toxic compounds emulsify in drinking water sources. After extensive research, I prototyped a probe to detect hydrogen sulfide levels to predict eutrophication before it became severe. However, after surveying affected communities, I discovered pollutants build up in lower water columns first. The prototype was rejected. This sting of failure felt like algal ooze, draining my confidence. I decided to redesign the prototype so that it moved up and down the water cascade. I was rewarded with incredible responses from surveyed groups. Community input is essential to tackling environmental challenges successfully.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Pritvik—it’s been an honor!
Pritvik Sinhadc is a student at Caltech. As a RISE Global Winner, he used mathematical models to constrain impacts of calamities on biodiversity. He is also a researcher at CERN (working on di-Higgs production to probe beyond the Standard Model physics) and at LIGO (where he aims to determine the distribution of stochastic gravitational wave background). Additionally, he is working on applying complexity metrics to exoplanets and black holes to develop reliable techno-signatures under NASA-JPL’s research group. (Nominated by RISE of Schmidt Futures. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 14, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.