By Jennifer Flanagan
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Riya Mehta at Move the Dial Global Summit in Toronto, Ontario. I was absolutely blown away by everything she is doing in STEM at the young age of 16. While her experience is unique, she is a great example of how youth truly are today’s leaders of innovation, and as she attests, “age is just a number.”
Jennifer: Tell me a bit about yourself?
Riya: I’m a 16-year-old lifelong learner, tech enthusiast and innovator.
Jennifer: What kind of things are you doing with technology?
Riya: I’m working as an artificial intelligence & genomic researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where I’m exploring different ways of applying AI in the future of genomic applications for different diseases.
Jennifer: Wow! Tell me more.
Riya: Currently I’m researching the fields of AR/VR. Specifically, I am developing ways of reinventing telemedicine through VR by creating my platform Virtuary. I recently had the amazing opportunity to present on my platform at IBM’s Biggest Software Development Conference-Evoke, The Vector Institute of technology, and many more conferences.
I am also working in the hospital’s Cardiac Research Centre to leverage emerging technology to solve cardiac diseases through 3D cardiac modelling. I am passionate about the global healthcare epidemic and solving the world’s greatest problems with disruptive technology. I’m a global health activist, and my mission is to bring accessible health care to developing countries with the help of emerging technology, like VR/AR & AI.
Jennifer: What does being a young woman in STEM mean to you?
Riya: Being a young woman in the STEM industry, I hope to bridge the gap not only between gender diversity, but also include people from all ages into the conversation. Working in an environment where I am so close to patients, I get inspired everyday by those around me who constantly allow me to grow, be better and do better, not only for myself but for the rest of the world.
Jennifer: What inspires you the most?
Riya: Through expanding my network professionally and personally, there’s one thing that always remains consistent with each person I meet: their ambition to make the world a better place, and to be an inspiration for others to take action. That is truly inspiring to me as a 16-year-old, since everyone’s story is different according to their environment. The story behind my inspiration is reflective of the change I want to make, and the privilege I have opened my eyes to at such a young age.
This is why I’m not only focusing on impacting billions of people or solving the world’s biggest problems in global health, but also to represent the younger generation in STEM fields, and prove to others that age really is just a number, it’s what you do with it that matters.
Jennifer: What’s next for you?
Riya: Being part of such an uplifting community and accelerator program like The Knowledge Society (TKS) has put me on the trajectory to lead the next generation of changemakers and practice important mindsets like authenticity, boss mentality and having a bias towards taking action.
I hope to communicate this message to other people of any age, gender, or race, because one thing’s for sure, there’s not enough people solving challenging issues in our generation. If there’s any lesson I’ve learned throughout my past few years as an emerging tech enthusiast and a STEM activist, it’s that our future lies in these fields and we need to maximize our greatest resource, the young people of our planet, which I’ve turned into my mission.
Jennifer: How can people learn more about your work and connect with you?