Published: 11th January 2021
Meet Mathunila Vissagan, the 16-year-old junior scientist from Chennai who has a space analytics start-up
Mathunila Vissagan, a researcher and co-founder of a space analytics start-up, is a class 11 student at The Schram Academy
At 16, Mathunila Vissagan has been named a junior scientist. After meeting Dr Hemachandra Ravikumar in 2019, Mathunila was fast-tracked into her scientific pursuits. "When I was three years old, I was fascinated to see the planets in the planetarium. Ever since then, I wanted to become an astronaut and got interested in outer space," she says. Today, Mathunila is the co-founder of her space logical analytics start-up N&H Research Park, which she founded with Ravikumar, whom she considers her mentor and guide. "My interest in research grew because I knew that I had to do it to become an astronaut," she explains.
Surprisingly, Mathunila's tryst with scientific research did not begin with space. She instead began with finding an alternative to plastic. "After the ban on plastic was imposed, I worked on my Nila Electro Plastic Insulation Project. I was able to publish this research in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation. The technology provided an alternative to deal with used and discarded plastic," she says. Shortly after, Mathunila also became a member of the International Youth Research Foundation (IYRF) and Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA).
It was the IYRF that recognised her as a junior scientist. Mathunila has also co-authored a book with Ravikumar. "It is the fastest written and published book and took only ten days to finish since its inception. The record has been published in the India Book of Records," she says. In 2020, Mathunila also received the Global Kids Achievers Award.
Mathunila was drawn towards scientific research when she met Ravikumar through a common friend. "He understood my interest in Science and space and immediately took me on as a mentee. He has been guiding me ever since," says Mathunila. When asked how The Schram Academy Class 11 student balances her research with school work, she says, "My school is very supportive and my research work doesn't affect my school work. I don't find it very difficult to cope up with it. I tend to finish my work during school hours and spend the rest of the day working on mt research." Mathunila is now attending online classes every day. "On some days, when there is additional research work, I would usually spend the night working on it after completing my school work," she says.
But it's not all Science and space for her. Mathunila is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. "Two to three times a week, I practise dancing too. I love to go on stage and perform," she says, adding that she also enjoys writing. Speaking about how she ensures people take her seriously, Mathunila says, " I just focus on doing my best work. My memberships with IYRF and ISCA also help. I hope that after me, more teenagers are also interested in researching at a young age. I have chosen to start researching early because I want to become successful at an early age," says Mathunila.