Jack Andraka Profile

  • National Geographic Explorer who speaks to audiences of youths and adults all across the globe about his personal story, research, and his ideas for STEM education reform and fostering innovation and creativity.

  • Jack discusses how new technologies such as 3D printing, real-time genetic sequencing, and molecular diagnostics will factor into this holistic version of health and how to use these technologies to personalize a patient’s health experience.

  • Jack has worked on combining anthropology, engineering, and big data to address pressing global health challenges, particularly in the monitoring of environmental contaminants and disease outbreaks.
  • Jack Andraka (Stanford B.S/B.A in Electrical Engineering with Honors and Anthropology with Honors) is a National Geographic Explorer who speaks to audiences of youths and adults all across the globe about his personal story, research, and his ideas for STEM education reform and fostering innovation and creativity. His journey began at age fifteen when, after losing a close family friend to pancreatic cancer, he invented an inexpensive early detection method for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer that costs 3 cents and takes 5 minutes to run. Now completing his MS in Electrical Engineering at Stanford, Andraka conducts research on nanorobots, inexpensive biosensors, disease diagnostics, and global health interventions while serving as faculty at the Stanford Anesthesiology Summer Institute. Outside of research, Jack has worked on combining anthropology, engineering, and big data to address pressing global health challenges, particularly in the monitoring of environmental contaminants and disease outbreaks. His latest work involves utilizing inexpensive paper biosensors to crowdsource environmental monitoring in Tanzania and track COVID-19 and other epidemics through wastewater.

    Andraka’s groundbreaking results have earned him international recognition, most notably the 2018 Truman Scholar Award, the 2014 Jefferson Award, the nation’s most prestigious public service award, the Intel Science Fair Winner for 2012, the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, the Out 100, White House Champion of Change in Open Science, Time Magazines 30 under 30, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeeper, and Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40 award.

    In addition, Andraka was First Lady Michelle Obama’s personal guest at the 2013 State of the Union Address. He has been featured in several documentaries including Morgan Spurlock’s Sundance Film Festival entry, “You Don’t Know Jack,” Linda Peters’ award winning film, “Just Jack,” and the online version of Ken Burns’ “The Emperor of All Maladies”, as well as 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CNN, BBC, Fox, Rede Record de Televisão, and radio, newspaper, and magazine articles around the world.

    Andraka speaks at a wide variety of locations including universities, schools, technology organizations and corporations, hospitals and the education sector in over 40 countries. Notable venues include a mainstage TED talk, 19 TEDx talks, a panelist at the annual Clinton Global Initiative, and a X-Prize Foundation Visioneer. His audiences range from youth—children and teens- to adults interested in using their creativity and curiosity to change the world.

    Andraka also runs programs for mentoring disadvantaged LGBT youth in STEM fields. He is a member of both the Junior and U-23 national kayaking teams and placed in the top 20 at the U23 Wildwater Kayaking World Championships.

    Jack Andraka Speaking Videos

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    Jack Andraka's Speech Descriptions

    Big Data and Education

    In this talk, Jack discusses the need for a reworking of our K-12 curriculum to prepare students for the data age, where every field from social justice to electrical engineering has been revolutionized by big data. He breaks down the story, history, and basic science of big data and discusses how to integrate the tools and strategy of data science into curriculums nationwide. By demystifying what data science is and how to use it, Jack sets out a bold vision where every student is data literate and is empowered to take charge of our increasingly data-drive world.

    A New Approach to Health

    Jack discusses a new paradigm of health, one where patients and healthcare providers collaborate to create a health experience tailored to the patient’s needs. He brings together the latest, cuttingedge research with his own experience and work to detail how to pioneer this new patient-doctor relationship through a diverse collection of stories and lessons learned from COVID-19, Ebola, the U.S. healthcare system, and global health interventions. Jack also discusses how new technologies such as 3D printing, real-time genetic sequencing, and molecular diagnostics will factor into this holistic version of health and how to use these technologies to personalize a patient’s health experience.

    Putting the Social in Social Good

    An electrical engineer and anthropologist, Jack discusses the need for the social sciences in STEM fields and how these unlikely collaborations can yield results that change the world. From obtaining a better understanding of the consumer to predicting and preventing misuse of technology, Jack discusses how the qualitative insights of the social sciences can be married with cutting-edge science and engineering to create breakthrough in fields from biomedicine to big data.

    Innovation and Exploration

    In this talk, Jack tells his own unlikely story of how he – a high school student who didn’t know what a pancreas was- created a new way to detect early-stage pancreatic cancer for 3 cents in 5 minutes. He then discusses his current work as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer working on issues ranging from crowdsourcing environmental monitoring in Tanzania to investigating the causes of the Ebola epidemic. Jack then reveals how anyone can become an explorer and learn how to change the world around through passion and perseverance.

    The Power of the Crowd

    A pioneer in inexpensive yet powerful sensors for crowdsourcing environmental monitoring and epidemic surveillance, Jack discusses strategies to educate and engage the public in solving our world’s most pressing challenges. Within this talk, Jack leverages his experience as a National Geographic Explorer to show how to design crowdsourcing projects, explain science topics to the public, recruit participants, create engaging public interfaces, and turn data from crowdsourced projects into real-world changes. Jack then speaks about how his own story of using crowdsourced sensors in Tanzania and Sierra Leone led him and his collaborators to taking on multinational mining conglomerates and change the course of environmental regulation in Tanzania.

    Viral Communities: Lessons from the Frontlines of COVID-19

    In this talk, Jack discusses his experience on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic, from leading a team of researchers at Stanford to track the virus via wastewater in the initial stages of the pandemic to his latest work on using big data and machine learning to design effective interventions against COVID-19. He interweaves this telling of his engineering research with his work for the last seven years as an anthropologist studying how public health crises like Ebola and COVID-19 create simultaneous crises of institutions, truth, and trust. In doing so, Jack discusses lessons we can apply to our own lives and communities to make them more resilient in the face of fear, loss, and mistrust.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Jack Speak

    Rating Entries

    Jack was incredibly INSPIRING and AMAZING to all of our conference participants, including all of us. The majority of his books were sold, and I know it will be a great summer read for the teachers. We appreciate working with you and Martin Lit and look forward to potentially working with you again!
    – Darrin Sato, Program Director, IT Education Technology Services, Kamehameha Schools

    Jack was incredible! In addition to truly saving the world, he has a unique storytelling style and inspired all of us. Excited to see what he does next.—Gina Ballenger, TWITTER Jack-please continue inspiring students from all around the world. Your speaking style and the way you broke it down for students was perfect. You looked like a veteran teacher, teaching students while you were commanding the stage. Great job!”
    — @MCISD_InTech

    “This kid is the Edison of our times. There are going to be a lot of light bulbs coming from him.”
    — Dr. Anirban Maitra, Johns Hopkins University, The Baltimore Sun

    “He did an eight-minute presentation on the research he’d done and what he discovered,” Spurlock says, “and after I watched that I was like, ‘This guy is fantastic. I need to make a film about him.’”
    — Morgan Spurlock, Documentary Filmmaker

    “Although it has been a week since Jack visited CMU, I am still “hyper” and absorbing his presence at CMU…I’d like to use our chair, Dr. Eric Buschlen’s phrase to describe his visit, ‘you were not what I expected and everything I wanted’…the way he talked about what he did and is doing was so inspiring, positive, and truthful. …He was grounded and solid. We like him not just because what he does but also who he is!”
    — Rui Wang, Social Science Librarian/Associate Professor Central Michigan University

    “Jack’s presentation to the Best in Nation App Challenge winning teams was a great addition to the evening’s agenda. It was obvious by the complete attention the teens in the audience gave Jack during his talk and their excitement about meeting him in person and having their picture taken later with this new celebrity, that his experiences amazed and delighted them. He told his story with humor and detail that opened the audience’s eyes to what can be achieved when someone so young believes anything is possible. We would be happy to invite Jack to present again in the future.”
    — Phil Puthumana, Program Manager, Global Corporate Citizenship, Verizon

    “It was our absolute pleasure having Jack and his speech went over incredibly well. He’s an inspiration to us all, and a living testament that anyone can make a long-lasting positive impact.”
    — Robb Gilbert, Klick Health, Toronto

    “Jack Andraka was the epitome of a professional. His presence was felt by all – and he inspired a great deal of folks in our audience. Jack’s presentation skills paired with his etiquette really blew many of us away.”
    — Boston Scientific

    “You were a hit! But then, you know that. And I especially appreciate your easy-to-please, positive attitude and great spirit through the whole weekend. You stimulated many conversations, and great respect. You also certainly won the support of faculty and students with your discussion of Open Access to Journals and Scholarly Papers. They knew the problem, you created awareness and energized them to support it.”
    – Wayne Roper, SBCIO

    “You won over the hearts and minds of our middle school students by connecting with them on a deep personal level by sharing your story and telling your truth. You inspired them to engage in self-love, follow their curiosity, lean on their optimism and develop the grit needed to overcome 4,000 failures and 199 rejections. Furthermore, you have given them the hope to overcome bullying and teasing by staying focused on helping others”.
    — Antoinette Quarshie, Community Engagement Team, Assistant Director of Global Studies, Riverdale Country School

    “Now that I have interviewed Jack for a magazine article, introduced him to over 3,000 people at a conference, read his book, and followed his work over the past year, I feel that I know Jack. What a remarkable, giving, and delightful young man who is dedicated to ‘paying it forward’ in life.”
    –Dane Peters, Vice President of the American Montessori Society

    “Jack did a fantastic job at the MEDA Annual Conference. He was prompt, engaged, poised, and, of course, knowledgeable about his subject. He handled the Q&A session with ease. Bottom line is he really wowed the audience. We highly recommend Jack as a speaker for other organizations.”
    –Pamela J. Ruff, Executive Director, Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA)

    “Jack did a great job. Our members have talking about him all day!”
    –Sharon Pichon Director of Meetings, Expositions & Association Relations, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)

    “Thank you for helping us make YPO Pacific Edge 2016 a FIRST “only-in-YPO” experience. Your session(s) were extremely well received and you have made a remarkable impression on the organization. I wanted to personally thank you for making my vision come true and provide the audience with a wide array of tools to create change in the world. You helped connect minds –now it’s up to all of us to go out and create the future!”
    —YPO, Los Angeles Chapter

    “Jack is an energetic, charismatic presenter that delivers take home value for adults and inspiration for teens.”
    –Travis Trask, YPO, Orange County Chapter

    Jack’s presentation was very much aligned with the purpose and the goals of the event. It was a great success!
    — Tecnológico de Monterrey

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    Books by Jack Andraka:

    Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World

    In this inspiring and compelling memoir, eighteen-year-old Jack Andraka, who at the age of fifteen created an early-detection test for pancreatic cancer, delves into the challenges and triumphs he faced on the road to his revolutionary discovery.

    For the first time, teen innovator and scientist Jack Andraka tells the story behind his revolutionary discovery. When a dear family friend passed away from pancreatic cancer, Jack was inspired to create a better method of early cancer detection. At the age of fifteen, he garnered international attention for his breakthrough: a four-cent strip of paper capable of detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers four hundred times more effectively than the previous standard.

    Jack’s story is not just one of dizzying international success; it is a story of overcoming bullying and depression and finding the resilience to persevere. His account inspires young people, who he argues are the most innovative, to fight for the right to be taken seriously and to pursue their own dreams. Do-it-yourself science experiments are included in each chapter, making Breakthrough perfect for STEM curriculum. But above all, Jack’s memoir empowers his generation with the knowledge that we can each change the world if we only have the courage to try.

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