CNSI Nanovation Student and Granda Hills High Grad Receives Milken Scholarship

by The San Fernando Valley Sun

This article was originally published by The San Fernando Valley Sun

Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) graduate Joshua Pereira has been named a 2021 Milken Scholar Award winner.

Pereira, who will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall, is one of 11 Milken Scholars in Los Angeles County. Each awardee, following the nomination, application and interview process, receives a $10,000 scholarship.

As a scientist, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) valedictorian Joshua Pereira — the 2021 Granada Hills High class valedictorian — is already making a significant impact on his community.

He was a top 10 finalist in the UCLA NanoSystems Institute “Nanovation” competition, designing of a portable thermocycler to enable scientists to conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing in the field. Pereira’s UCLA grad student mentors asked him to join their research project, and he helped them submit a successful National Science Foundation grant.

Pereira advocated for other GHCHS students to work with the research project in the lab, and brought the sophisticated laboratory techniques he learned at UCLA back to the classroom. Inspired by his experience at UCLA, Joshua created Envision H2O: Nanoparticle Water Quality Testing, a research group that leads development of new methods for onsite water quality testing using gold nanotechnology.

He also serves as Blue Water Task Force Program Lead for the Los Angeles chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, monitoring coastal water quality at beaches throughout Los Angeles County.

In addition to the Milken award, Pereira has received a QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship and is a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar, College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. He won awards at the Los Angeles Regional Science Olympiad in molecular biology, thermodynamics and protein modeling.

Pereira studied image analysis and science writing with the MIT Online Science, Technology and Engineering Community (MOSTEC), earning the Best of MOSTEC 2020 Science Writing Award from the MIT Office of Engineering and Outreach Programs. Pereira also interned at UCLA’s Shimon Weiss Biophysics Laboratory and was president of the GHCHS Science Team, leading 80 students in finding creative STEM-based solutions for local issues.

He graduated with a bilingual International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. As part of his IB community service project, Pereira created GHC Generation-E 2020, a program that teaches local elementary students about environmental issues including water conservation and pollinator gardens. Joshua sang in GHCHS’ a cappella singing group, and served as president for Latinos United for Cultural Education, a safe space for cultural expression.

Joshua will study biochemical engineering at MIT and plans a career focused on infectious disease and vaccine development.