A Local Student Just Nabbed $70K in a National STEM Competition

After working on it for nearly two years, a DMV senior just nabbed a huge win for her tech project addressing risks in gallbladder surgeries.

Pravalika Gayatri Putalapattu of Alexandria, Virginia, was named the seventh-place winner in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. She won a $70,000 prize for her Dynamic Operating Room Companion (also known as DORC). The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Tech student was one of two local students among the top forty finalists in the national competition, which Regeneron Pharmaceuticals presents with the Society for Science.

Gayatri Putalapattu started working on DORC in July 2020. Her goal was to reduce the potential for mistakes in gallbladder surgeries. Using machine learning, DORC analyzes live surgery videos and tracks the movements of surgical tools, such as the acceleration and velocity in use. DORC uses this info to flag potential errors.