Hailing from Sacramento, California, Tanishq Abraham was one of the Society's youngest initiates when he joined at age 14 at the University of California, Davis, in 2018. Homeschooling provided the opportunity to start college classes at age 7, and by 15, he had graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering and moved on to grad school. Now, at 18, he is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis.
Tanishq uses his passion for science and education to help others by volunteering with organizations such as UNICEF and the North South Foundation – a nonprofit organization that helps students in India enter college and achieve academic success. He has also volunteered as a young citizen scientist working to look through NASA's Kepler telescope images to locate and identify objects in our solar system.
As a science communicator, he has given numerous educational and inspirational talks at organizations and schools, including two TEDx talks and a panelist position at South by Southwest's Interactive Festival. At UC Davis, he has acted as a mentor and judge for engineering design projects, and he remains active on Twitter working to educate and engage others in conversations about machine learning, AI, medical research and tech reviews.
Let's get to know Tanishq!
Why did you accept the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi?
As a young graduating engineer, I was excited to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi which has notable members like Linus Pauling, Jimmy Carter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and many more. I was impressed with the Society’s mission "to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others." Being a member of this honor society sets you up to strive for excellence not just in academics but also in service to others.
Who is your favorite band?
I like listening to Twenty One Pilots, and as a birthday present, my parents gifted their virtual concert ticket. Though it was not the typical concert experience, it was still fun. Maybe in the future when things get better with the pandemic, I can experience the live concert!
What’s the biggest misconception people have about child prodigies?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have of child prodigies is that they are snobs and they do not have social skills. My sister and I have proved that wrong when people tell us that we are down-to-earth teenagers who get along well with others.
In your free time, do you prefer to read or watch TV?
I prefer to watch TV. I enjoy watching some classic comedy shows such as Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens, but Friends is my favorite show. I also enjoy watching Netflix and Amazon movies for our family movie nights.
What is the best gift you have received?
My laptop! I received it as my 14th birthday gift from my parents which I still use for all my work!
What advancements or discoveries do you hope your generation can bring to the world’s future?
I hope my generation can discover better treatments for cancer, slow down climate change, or develop general and truly intelligent AIs.
In your Ted Talk, you mentioned being obsessed with dinosaurs and astronomy – what are your latest obsessions and hobbies?
I enjoy reading and usually read nonfiction such as science and tech-related materials and share that info on Twitter. I hang out a lot on Twitter! I also I like to do machine learning/AI projects and competitions on Github, Kaggle. It feels good when these projects win and end up being useful. Finally, I enjoy watching mystery, thriller and science-themed movies. In fact, my family and I are looking forward to seeing the new James Bond movie!
Do you live by any words of wisdom?
I tell folks to follow your passion, do something that makes you excited so that it doesn't turn out to be work or chore but more like having fun at work. I live up to my parents’ quote "Stay Humble."
What’s on your bucket list?
To get a Nobel Prize!
Does your family have any pets?
Yes! We have three cats who were all rescued! Lucky, our oldest, is 10 years old and we have had her since she was 5 or 6 weeks old. She was abandoned by her mom, and we found her crying in front of our door. The next day, we had a severe thunderstorm, so she was named Lucky due to her luck of finding a home just before the thunderstorm. Chubby was born as a chubby little kitten in our house from another rescued pet cat, Furry, whom we gave up for adoption after having her for 6 months. Chubby is now 9 years old, loves to hang out with me and lives up to his name by weighing about 18 pounds. While it's hard for him to sit on me, he still loves to cuddle up on my lap while I am busy with work. A few months ago, we added another rescue. She is a Ragdoll mix breed and we got her when she was only 4 weeks old. My sister named her Mimi which means "cute" in French. She is now almost 6 months old and keeps us all entertained with her feistiness! We can see the Ragdoll breed traits in her, such as the puppy behavior and the intelligence. She loves to play fetch and watch movies with us!
To learn more about Tanishq and connect, visit his profile within our online member community, here.
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