The year 2020 has been unique, with school and business closures due to the pandemic; however, many OSSM alumni have been on the front lines of the war with COVID-19. One of these is Rhiju Das, professor of Biophysics at Stanford University in California and a member of OSSM’s class of 1995.   

In his efforts to stop this disease, Dr. Das is leading a cutting edge lab in which he has been working on a vaccine for COVID-19. His approach is to use video games through The Eterna platform, which he and his staff built. This software allows people all over the world, including fellow OSSM alums, to help with permutations on how to fold up the strands of RNA for shipping. 

“Solutions that come in from top players, we actually synthesize those molecules in my lab at Stanford and then test and see which one fold up and function in the way that we wanted,” said Das. 

The Bartlesville native was recently featured on The PBS NOVA Special “Decoding COVID-19,” and locally by KFOR news.  

“Many OSSM alumni are battling this war with COVID on a daily basis,” said Melissa Nestor, president of the OSSM Alumni Association. “On behalf of all alumni, I thank each one of you who risk their own health to use their skills and talents to help others.” 

At OSSM, Rhiju was selected for both the Chemistry and Physics Olympiads. He secured the medal in the Physics Olympiad. After high school, he went to Cambridge, Harvard and Stanford. He also served as a summer intern at CERN in Switzerland.