Nikhilesh Das

Nikhilesh Das was awarded the fifth National Grassroots Innovation Award by the President of India, Smt Pratibha Patil, for his innovative research on controlling oil pollution in water. A student of Cotton College (BSc in Physics), Das aims to pursue a career in nuclear physics and bring the spirit of scientific innovation to students across India.

Das has been keenly interested in science since childhood. When he was just in class six he made an herbal repellant for cockroaches, which was quite effective. Throughout his school years he represented his school in a number of science exhibitions, debate, quiz and speech competitions, and won many prizes at the state level. Das invented an innovative solution to control oil pollution using waste products. Through experimentation, Das discovered that human hair, bird feathers, and sawdust are all 95% effective at removing oil from water in clinical trials.

Das submitted his proposal to the NIF (National Innovation Foundation), and in 2009 they selected his idea for the national level Science Exhibition. They also recommended it for the highly prestigious National Students Award. Das won the competition, and President Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil of India presented him with the award. In 2011, NIF and Das applied to the Government of India for a patent on his inventions.

Das is currently pursuing a degree physics from Cotton College Guwahati.


When I traveled to New Delhi to receive the National Student’s Award from the President of India, I came in touch with some of the most fascinating people I have met in my life–the other innovators who were awarded by NIF for their outstanding works on Science and Technology. I was moved by seeing those people, the majority of whom were college and school dropouts yet had made some of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen.