Ajjarapu wins summer internship in Peru

The prospect of spending 8 weeks alone in a foreign country doesn’t faze junior Avanthi Ajjarapu one bit. "The excitement outweighs the nerves," Ajjarapu said, and with the internship that Ajjarapu will be participating in this summer, it’s perfectly understandable why she just can’t wait to go. Ajjarapu was recently selected as one of 16 students from around the nation for the World Food Prize’s Borlaug-Ruan internship. The lucky interns will have the opportunity to go to different research centers all around the world, and Ajjarapu will be spending her summer at the International Potato Center in Peru. As a prerequisite to the application process, Ajjarapu had to first go to a two day event held in Des Moines by the Global Youth Institute and present a research paper on a specific country to a panel of specialists. "My country was India," Ajjarapu said. "I looked at transgenic crops and the prospect of using those crops to help alleviate the food insecurity within that country." There were many different subtopics Ajjarapu could have chosen, but she was especially interested in the biotechnological aspect of helping the global food industry. Ajjarapu had already done quite a bit of research in high school when Ames High graduate Mythili Prabhu introduced her to the Borlaug-Ruan internship, and Ajjarapu seized the opportunity without hesitation. "I guess it kind of just combined everything I like to do," Ajjarapu said. Ajjarapu will be leaving for Peru on June 12th, and she will spend her internship working within a research subtopic of the International Potato Center. Her internship will culminate in a formal research paper, which Ajjarapu will then have to present to the Global Youth Institute in October in conjunction with the giving out of the World Food Prize. Surprisingly, however, Ajjarapu doesn’t see herself as becoming a "hardcore researcher" anytime in the future. "It’s not something I would want to do as an everyday thing," Ajjarapu said, "I’m actually thinking of going into pre-med." Whatever Ajjarapu decides to do with her future, her willingness to work for others is sure to take her far.