The strength of STEM industries is crucial for sustainable development, as they enable us to find solutions to threats posed by global challenges such as climate change, global health epidemics, and increased income inequality. 

One young woman who realizes the importance of empowering the next generation of female STEM talent to combat these global challenges is Maya Burhanpurkar, a Canadian freshman attending Harvard this fall.

Maya recently finished a gap year, splitting her time between a team at the University of Toronto developing a self-driving wheelchair and a team at the Perimeter Institute working on solving the enigmatic mystery of cosmic Fast Radio Bursts. Earlier, she co-discovered a new principle of Newtonian physics along with a professor at the University of Toronto.

In addition to this impressive work, Maya is an advocate for climate change awareness. In 2013, Maya traveled to the Arctic to produce 400 PPM, an open source documentary about climate change featuring Margaret Atwood, astronaut Chris Hadfield, and famed explorer Wade Davis, and was awarded the international Gloria Barron Prize.

During her time in the Arctic, Maya experienced climate change first-hand. “The decline of the Inuit’s traditional ecosystem I witnessed was tragic.” Maya firmly believes that “if we can put humans on the moon, we certainly can leverage STEM to allow humanity to continue to thrive on our beautiful planet.”