Hi Everyone, Welcome back to this week's blog!! My name is Sritej Padmanabhan, a top 10 finalist for the 2022 3M Young Scientist challenge. In this blog, I would like to share my experience of learning to make meaningful observations and using them to select the right problem to focus on.

The first step to making observations is asking questions and being curious about what's around you.  What's causing climate change? Why is there inequity in access to healthcare for some populations? Why is recycling such a challenge?  A lot of the time there are tons and tons of problems going around you and they slip right past us. One technique I try to use is to keep asking 5 Why’s on the problem topic I am interested in. Answers to these questions allow me to frame the issue correctly. For example, when my grandpa visited us from India for an extended period of time, he was worried his hand tremors (from Parkinson’s) could not be monitored by his neurologist in India.  I kept asking ‘Whys’ and learned that there was no reliable tool available to the neurologists to measure hand tremors in a remote setting. This observation led to my project idea.

With a list of different observations, picking the right problem to tackle for a project is very important. But, how do you pick the right problem? Research, Passion and Excitement are the key elements in selecting the right project.  Researching each of your observations will enable you to learn more about them and find out whether you want to pursue them or not. I considered a variety of problems such as inefficiencies in the current garbage collection system (non-productive stops), improper classification of recyclable waste by households,   inequity in access to healthcare etc.  For example,  I wanted to find more about Parkinson’s due to my grandpa’s condition. I found that the rural population in the US has 50% less access to a qualified neurologist compared to large urban populations, leaving rural patients' tremors often undiagnosed and without treatment. I also found that the current system to measure tremors in clinical settings was subjective and observer dependent which was a surprise to me (visual observations and patient surveys).  One of the papers cited 30-50% of tremors were misdiagnosed.  Big opportunity to improve.

Picking the perfect problem is about having passion and excitement for it. When you feel a connection, everything will fall into place. In my case, my grandpa’s health challenge  inspired my project .  I was motivated to pursue a solution that could not only help my grandpa but a larger population.

 Thank you all for listening to this week's blog about making observations and choosing the right problem and I hope you enjoyed the video! Stay tuned for more and Until Next Time!!!

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