Class Act: Ft Worth Country Day senior earns prestigious scientific honor

FORT WORTH — He may just be in high school, but Nikhil De’s dreams are light-years away and it’s what makes him our Class Act of the Week.

Nikhil is a Senior at Fort Worth Country Day, and already a top-level astrophysicist. In fact, he just finished a huge research project with Dr. Kat Barger at TCU, titled “Examining the Internal Kinematics of Interacting Dwarf-Dwarf Galaxy Pairs with SDSS-MaNGA”. Phew! That’s a mouthful, but here’s what it means!

“Scientists predict that larger galaxies like the Milky Way would’ve been formed through the repeated mergers and interactions between these small galaxies,” explained Nikhil.

“But we actually don’t know much about this process so I decided to analyze the movements of these dwarf galaxies which are potential analogs to some of these early galaxies and could potentially result in the formation of larger Milky Way-type galaxies.”

That’s heavy stuff, and it caught the attention of the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

“I wrote a paper on that project and I submitted it to the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which is one of the oldest and most prestigious science competitions in the country,” Nikhil said. “And I was named a scholar in that competition and won a scholarship and some money for Country Day.”

When he’s not solving the mysteries of the universe he’s also an amazing musician and a member of the all-state orchestra. It can be a mental break from the lab, but also a new challenge.

“It’s a little bit of both,” he said of music. “It’s something I do for fun but it’s also something which I find to be challenging and stimulating in the same manner science would be.”

So no matter what he’s doing, Nikhil is always advancing and finding answers to questions most of us don’t even know how to ask!

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