What have you been doing since graduating from the
Davidson Academy of Nevada in 2010?
After graduating from the
Davidson Academy at age 15, I enrolled at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as a double major in
bioengineering, and business economics and management. I've had the opportunity to collaborate with world-class faculty on research projects in biofuel development as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Caltech; in HIV antibody therapy as an Amgen Scholar;
and in earthquake engineering as a National Science
Foundation (NSF) Network for Earthquake Engineering
Stimulation (NEES) Undergraduate Research Fellow at
the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition, since July 2014, I have been pursuing an independent research project into jellyfish propulsion and healing mechanisms as a research scientist at Caltech.
During my undergraduate years, I was elected a member of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi; awarded Caltech’s prestigious Deans’ Cup; competed as an NCAA athlete in swimming and water polo; and continued to pursue my passion for violin performance as concertmaster of the Caltech-Occidental Symphony Orchestra, two-time winner of the orchestra's concerto competition, and professional violinist with the Santa Monica Symphony. I was also honored as the sole recipient of Caltech's Beckman Political Internship in 2012 to pursue a policy internship in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office in Washington, D.C. Through this internship, I provided support on a number of scientific issues and consulted on the Senator-sponsored STEM Smart Conference geared towards strengthening K-12 education in STEM fields.
I also co-founded Caltech InnoWorks in 2011, a for-student by-student initiative to provide underserved middle school students with outstanding and free hands-on educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As InnoWorks Director this past year, I successfully managed and coordinated a weeklong day camp for 60 students, passing on my love for teaching and research in science and engineering to future generations of InnoWorkers.
What are your plans for the future?
In the fall, I will attend a Ph.D. program in bioengineering at Stanford University, where I plan to pursue research projects with strong roots in medicine. Eventually, I aspire to either lead my own lab as a research professor or to be a pioneering leader in the biotech industry, conducting research that will lead to groundbreaking developments in disease therapy.
You recently gave a TEDx talk at the University of Nevada, Reno, called
"Engage and Embrace Your Natural Curiosity by Asking 'Why?'” How did you come up with this topic?
From a young age, developing and using my natural curiosity has always been something very near and dear to me, and as I've gotten older, I continued to cultivate an appreciation for digging deeper and asking more
"why?" questions. I also became interested in whether there are known scientific bases for the positive effects of curiosity on the brain, and I felt that the TEDx stage was a perfect venue for me to share these exciting scientific discoveries and my own experiences and successes with developing and using natural curiosity. Through my TEDx talk, I hope to encourage people from all over the world to challenge themselves to become confident in asking questions and let that confidence feed into a desire to ask deeper questions and develop new ideas.
Misha's TEDx talk.
The Right Fit for You?
While the deadline to submit applications for the 2015-2016 school year has passed, it’s not too early to think about 2016-2017. If you are looking for an environment to better fit your social and academic needs, The Davidson Academy of Nevada may be the place for you!
If you are interested in applying to The Davidson Academy for the 2016-2017 school year, the application will be posted
this summer. Please review the
Qualification Criteria and
How to Apply pages of our website for more information. The Academy is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests. On the
Application Review Process page, you will find detailed information about the on-site assessment.
Upcoming Tours for Prospective Students - New Dates Announced!
At Davidson Academy tours, prospective students and
their parents meet current Academy students, parents, faculty and staff, and ask specific questions about the school.
Upcoming school tours will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the following
For details, including directions to The Davidson Academy and RSVP information, please visit the
Tours page. If you would like more information, please contact us at
- Sept. 18, 2015
- Oct. 23, 2015
- Nov. 20, 2015
- Dec. 11, 2015
- Jan. 29, 2016
- Feb. 19, 2016
Visit America Matters Media
Davidson Academy students Gabriel Angres, Ana Perez-McKay, Ethan Lu and Julia Nai recently visited Reno radio station
American Matters Media
to discuss their Venture Lab class. The students were
lauded for creating innovative business ideas as part of the
State MathCounts Competition
finishing in first place at the Northern Nevada Mathcounts Chapter
Competition, the Davidson Academy MATHCOUNTS team had a fantastic
performance at the State Competition! The
Academy team, comprised of nine students, achieved second place
in the Team Competition.
All of the students did a great job representing themselves and the Academy.
Here are the results for each of our student competitors:
- 1st place – Jason Liu
- 6th place – Ethan Lu
- 11th Place – Derek Chien
- 18th Place – Ashwin Murty
- 26th Place – Winston Zeng
- 27th Place – Shashank Addagarla
- 36th Place – Asher Hansen
- 38th Place – Vivek Yanamadula
Western Nevada Regional Science and Engineering FairA number of Academy students competed in the
Western Nevada Regional Science and Engineering Fair
with excellent results.
- Rinik Kumar earned
first place in the high school physical science category
(first place overall) and won two specialty awards. He also was selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
(Intel ISEF) in Pittsburgh next month.
- Oliver Leitner earned second place in the high school engineering category
(third place overall) and won two specialty awards.
He also was selected to compete at
Intel ISEF in May.
- Yatin Chandar
earned third place in the middle school engineering category
and won two specialty awards. Additionally, he was selected to be an observer at Intel ISEF.
Davidson Academy's DECA team recently traveled to Las Vegas to
compete in the Nevada State Career Development Conference and did
extremely well, competing in various events related to business, marketing, finance and entrepreneurship.
Students were recognized in the following categories:
- Business Finance Series: Haydn Bradstreet (1st place)
- Business Law and Ethics: Arturo Guzman and Anna Hayes (3rd place)
- Business Services Operations Research: Nadia Tung, Bella Noonen, and Julia Nai (1st place)
- Human Resources Management: Vandana Ravikumar (2nd place), Maya Gupta (1st place)
- Marketing Communications: Ameen Homayoon and Forrest Karo (3rd place)
- Principles of Business Management and Administration: Hayley Haas (1st place)
- Principles of Finance: Paolo Adajar (3rd place), Julia Nai (2nd place), Rinik Kumar (1st place)
- Principle of Hospitality: Pranit Nanda (2nd place), Taryn Apel (1st place)
- Principles of Marketing: Bella Noonen (3rd place)
- Further congratulations also go out to Maya Gupta for being elected this year's DECA Vice President of Northern Nevada!
Davidson Academy ExtravaganzaThe first annual Davidson
Extravaganza was a casual celebration in support and honor
of the students and faculty of the Davidson Academy
benefitting the Educational Opportunities Fund. It was a
spectacular night all around! To donate any time to
the Davidson Academy Educational Opportunities Fund, visit
Donate page on the the Academy website.
Congratulations to the following Davidson Academy students for these recent accomplishments:
- Juliana Bogert, Caelan Caudell,
Emmy Tian and
Lindsey Zeising have been selected as
finalists for the National Merit Scholarship.
- Haydn Bradstreet,
Ryan Brown and Eric Liu qualified as semifinalists in
the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO),
the only students in Nevada to earn this accomplishment.
Juliana Bogert, Grace Hong, John Laughlin and Lindsey Zeising
were named candidates for the 2015 Presidential
Scholars Program, and may qualify to be among
the 141 scholars headed to Washington, D.C. this
- The Academy FIRST Young Robotic Engineers
of Riley Breuner, Connor Novak, Tim Novak, Matt
Oakley, Wendy Thompson, Si Chiang Wu, Justin Zeising,
and Val Zvyagin competed in a regional competition in Las Vegas against 41 other teams,
winning the Rookie Inspiration Award for
inspiring respect and understanding of
engineering in their community, along with being
the only rookie team to make it to the
elimination rounds of the competition.
How long have you taught at the Academy, and how has the school
changed since you started?
I came to the Academy in 2009 as an electives instructor. Except for the 2012-2013 school year, I've been here every year since 2009 in some capacity. Over the years, the Academy has become more digital. I most recently came back as an online instructor, and now I teach both online and in the brick-and-mortar school.
Generally, what is your average class size?
I'd say fewer than 10.
What are a few of the more interesting or challenging projects that you have assisted Academy students with?
Several years ago, I had students come up with propaganda campaigns as a project for Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. That was fun, and one of the posters from that project still adorns a classroom wall here. Right now, my online composition class is putting together digital magazines. That's been a learning experience for me (even though I assigned it), and I think it's only going to get more interesting as we near the process of putting the magazines together. Writing, in general, is always a challenge, but I'm a total nerd in that I really enjoy the process of responding to student writing.
the fifth consecutive year, the Davidson Academy has
been ranked as one of the nation's "Top-performing schools with elite students"
by the Washington Post's education columnist Jay Mathews. The 25
alphabetically-listed schools were excluded from the
main Washington Post High School Challenge list of the
best high schools in America because, "despite their
exceptional quality, their admission rules and
standardized test scores indicate they have few or no
“When I first came to the Academy, one of my biggest concerns was making new friends .
. . On my first day, I realized that everyone was very friendly, witty, and overall lots of fun to hang around with. Stereotypically, it may seem that the intelligence level would hinder the social environment; however, at the Academy it just makes the social conversation more interesting and fun.”
Amanda Bak, Fourth Year Davidson Academy Student