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Sonit Sisolekar

A mere zero exploring infinity!

Sonit is the youngest volcanologist and planetary geologist of India. Sonit’s article on the story of Solar Energy was published in the NATIONAL SOUVENIR of the 24th National Children’s Science Congress, 2016, at the age of 9 years. He has presented his latest research on the Rheological Properties of the Lava Tubes of the Moon, at the 52nd International Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) 2021. Sonit’s research project related to the Lava tubes and blisters of the Deccan Traps Volcanism is under progress. His research on the effects of ionizing radiations on the reddening of the soil of planet Mars has won a NASA CiS competition. He has also won a telescope from the National Observatory of Japan for his essay on the popularization of Astronomy in rural areas.

He has won many Gold Medals at the INSEF Regional and National Science Fairs for his researches on the effects of low frequency vibrations on the growth of plants, and the phonotropism i.e. the turning of plants towards the source of sound. He has been awarded the ‘Best Scientist Award’ at the age of 11 years, which is usually given to the best practicing scientists by the Rotary Club of Pune, Shivajinagar. Sonit won the 1st position in the State of Maharashtra in the NAEST 2020 (National Anveshika Experimental Skill Test in Physics – 2020), organized by the famous physicist Prof. Dr. H.C. Verma of IIT Kanpur and IAPT (Indian Association of Physics Teachers). Sonit emerged one of the top 36 National participants after competing with 50,000 participants, up to MSc level, nationwide.

Sonit is also an award winning Tabla player, selected as a child artist by Akashwani. Sonit also teaches English to tribal students. He loves exploring nature and aspires to start a ‘Rural Astro-Geology Project’ to popularize astronomy and geology in the students of rural areas.

International Level Achievements

1. INTERNATIONAL EARTH SCIENCE OLYMPIAD (IESO 2022) Gold Medal: Sonit bagged the international GOLD MEDAL; led team India with the research project on ‘Carbon sequestration in weathered rocks and its application in reducing global warming’. Additionally, also bagged two individual bronze medals and an honorary mention for enthusiasm in Earth sciences at the Olympiad. 

2.  RISE GLOBAL FINALIST: Sonit has been selected as a RISE (Rise for the World, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust) global finalist. Rise is a program that finds brilliant people who need opportunity and supports them for life as they work to serve others. The program starts at ages 15–17 and offers a lifetime of benefits including scholarships, mentorship, access to career development opportunities, funding, and more as Global Winners work toward solving humanity’s most pressing problems. 

3.   YALE YOUNG GLOBAL SCHOLAR (YYGS): Selected for the YYGS 2023 program by the YALE UNIVERSITY. Topic: Solving global challenges. Completed this successfully.

4.  AFRICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY GLOBAL SCHOLAR: Selected for the ALA-GSP 2023 program and completed it successfully.

5.  LPSC 2021: Research abstract selected and presented for Oral Presentation for the 52nd LPSC 2021(Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference) organized by LPI (Lunar and Planetary Institute), USRA, NASA. Sonit’s research topic was: A RHEOLOGICAL, MATHEMATICAL AND STATISTICAL COMPARISON OF LUNAR RILLES AND TERRESTRIAL LAVA TUBES. The study utilizes the latest databases of Lunar rilles and terrestrial lava tubes for morphometric analysis; and to derive various parameters, mathematically and statistically, related to the rheological properties of the lava tubes. Petrography evidence suggested fast cooling of lunar lavas, but huge dimensions of lunar rilles suggest that they should have flown for longer durations. This was the enigma, and Sonit was successful in finding an explanation for it - Lunar lavas, in spite of rapid cooling, flowed for longer distances because of their extremely high velocities. Sonit has done this research with the help of Dr. Raymond Duraiswamy of the SAVITRIBAI PHULE PUNE UNIVERSITY, INDIA.

6. INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATION: Research paper - Morphology, Textures and Thicknesses of Rubbly Pahoehoe Lavas from the ∼117 Ma Sylhet Traps, India; in the Journal of the Geological Society of India volume 98, pages591–599 (2022).

7. Won at the NASA COMPETITION (NASA – CIS INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION -2019), for RESEARCH (at the age of 12 years) on the 'POSSIBLE ROLE OF IONIZING RADIATIONS IN THE REDDENING OF MAR'S SOIL.’ Sonit’s research samples of volcanic rock powders and volcanic ash were sent by NASA to the Space (Stratosphere) via NASA’s NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility.

8. NASA - GLEE 2023 (The Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone): Sonit is the leader of a team selected for the GLEE 2023. The Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) is a mission to land hundreds of LunaSats (small spacecraft) on the Moon as a technology demonstration and to conduct science. GLEE is led by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC) at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder, and is currently supported by NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges. This is an ongoing activity.

9. Won at the NATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY OF JAPAN’s (NAOJ) ESSAY COMPETITION, One Family One Telescope International Competition (Astronomy for All), organized by the IAU (INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION) and NAOJ (NATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY OF JAPAN); Sonit was awarded with a NAOJ TELESCOPE. Sonit had written about how a telescope can be used to spread information about Astronomy and instill scientific temper in the community of common people.

10. Abstract selected and presented for Oral Presentation for the 6th EAST AFRICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY (EAAS) WORKSHOP/CONFERENCE 2021 (20 – 22 MAY 2021) ,Dodoma, Tanzania jointly organized by Open University Of Tanzania (OUT), University Of Dodoma(UDOM) and East Africa Road. Title of the presented paper – Effective Use of the Local Geology for the Popularization of Planetary Geology and Astronomy; and Promoting of Astro-Geo Tourism. I had presented a novel model of Astro-Geo tourism conceptualized by myself, named AGATE (Astronomy & Geology Awareness, Tourism and Education): A possible model for a rural planetary-geology awareness program. This is the first model of astronomy popularization which will popularize planetary geology with the help of local geological features found in the participating villages. It is aimed to be a sustainable project which will help in the attainment of some of the UN SDGs (goals).

11.   He has been awarded a DISTINCTION in the 2021 BIG SCIENCE COMPETITION organized by Australian Science Innovation.  

12.  NASA COMPETITION (NASA – CIS INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION -2023): Sonit (as the mentor) and his student have won a place in the in the NASA CIS 2023 for their research on possible effects of ionizing radiations on carbon sequestration by various rock types.

13. Member of THE JUNIOR ACADEMY of the NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES 2021-2022: Selected as a member of the international cohort of passionate high school students (ages 13-17) to become part of The Junior Academy, who join a dynamic global network of like-minded peers and mentors who are dedicated to designing innovative solutions to society’s greatest challenges!

Ongoing Research Projects

1. A Rheological, Mathematical and Statistical Comparison of Lunar Rilles and Terrestrial Lava Tubes. The study utilizes the latest databases of Lunar rilles and terrestrial lava tubes for morphometric analysis; and to derive various parameters, mathematically, related to the rheological properties of the lava tubes. The abstract for this study has been selected for the 52nd LPSC 2021. The study will be continued further for a full paper publication. Next steps, or the next study will be to verify the findings of this study with the help of petrographic evidences form the Lunar and Terrestrial samples of the respective lavas.


2. The Possible Role of Ionizing Radiations in the Reddening of Martian Soil. For this study, the samples of volcanic rock powders (from Deccan traps, India) and volcanic ash (from the Taftan volcanic eruption, Iran) were sent by NASA to the Space (Stratosphere) via NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. These samples will be tested with spectrographic methods to find changes in chemical compositions.

3. Lava Tubes and Large gas blisters in the Deccan Traps’ Lava flow in and Around Pune, India. This study includes the documentation and analysis of various lava Tubes and large gas blisters in the Deccan Traps, along with the two 65 million year old possible lava tubes (and a few gas blisters) discovered by Sonit. Detailed mapping and various analyses are planned.

National Level Achievements


2. Won NATIONAL LEVEL BRONZE MEDAL at the INSEF SCIENCE FAIR 2019, for RESEARCH ON PHONOTROPISM -the movement of plant roots towards the source of sound at the age of 12 years.

3. PUBLISHED a Science Article in the NATIONAL SOUVENIR of the 24th NATIONAL CHILDREN’S SCIENCE CONGRESS – NCSC 2016, at the age of 9 years. The article was titled – ‘The Story of Solar Energy’.

4. Won the 1ST POSITION in the State of Maharashtra in the NAEST 2020 (National Anveshika Experimental Skill Test – 2020), i.e. NATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS SKILLS COMPETITION organized by the famous physicist Prof. Dr. H.C. Verma, IIT (Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur) and IAPT (Indian Association of Physics Teachers). Sonit is among the top 36 from the 50,000 participants (up to MSc level) nationwide.

4. Honored with THE PRADHAN MANTRI RASHTRIYA BAL PURASKAR (THE NATIONAL CHILD AWARD FOR EXCEPTIONAL ACHIEVEMENT) - INDIA'S HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONOUR bestowed upon exceptional achievers under the age of 18 by the Government of India, at the hands of the President. Sonit received this in scholastics section for his exceptional research work.  

5. Placed in the top 50 National Scorers List (at the age of 9 years) of the NATIONAL GREEN OLYMPIAD 2016 conducted by the Forest Departments of Maharashtra and Pune.

6. INESO 2022 (Indian National Earth Science Olympiad): He secured All India Rank #2 in the both of the INESO exams.


8.    SURYADATTA NATIONAL AWARD 2023 (YOUNG ACHIEVER)  by the Suryadatta Group of Institutes, Pune

9.    KAMP NATIONAL AWARD 2023 (YOUNG ACHIEVER)  by Knowledge and Awareness Mapping Platform an initiative and knowledge alliance of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR), a constituent institute of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology


State Level Achievements

1. Won a GOLD MEDAL (STATE LEVEL) for his research at the INSEF SCIENCE FAIR (Regional) 2017, for research in the effects of sub-soil infrasonic vibrations on plants at the age of 10 years.


2. Won a GOLD MEDAL (STATE LEVEL) for his research at the INSEF SCIENCE FAIR (Regional) 2018, for research in the effects of sub-soil infrasonic vibrations on plants at the age of 11 years.


3. Honored with ‘THE BEST SCIENTIST AWARD’ (AT THE AGE OF 11 YEARS), which is usually given to the best practicing scientists, by the Rotary club of Pune, Shivajinagar in June 2018.


4. WON (3RD PRIZE/SECOND RUNNER UP at the age of 10 years) in the ‘Young Explorers Inter-School Project Competition’ by Muktangan Science Exploratory, Pune. He had designed a ‘BONE CONDUCTING HEARING AID’ for the people who cannot wear conventional hearing aids.




6. WON IN THE COMPETITION FOR GIFTED, MULTI-TALENTED CHILDREN – ‘Bahurangi Bahar’ organized by Institute of Psychological Health, Thane. He was the FINAL WINNER from amongst 600 students from all over the state of Maharashtra, India. This competition was based on psychological assessments, communication skills, writing and interviews.


7. Honored at World Environment Day (for his research on plants; and for working for the environment) under JIVIDHATA FESTIVAL 2018 by the MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT FOREST AND CLIMATE CHANGE- GOVERNMENT of INDIA


8. Achieved ‘Proficiency Merit Certificate’ in the Science Talent Search Competition (Dr. Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik Competition 2017-2018) conducted by the Greater Bombay Science Teachers’ Association

9. State Scholarship Exam: Passed and recieved scholarship for the Maharashtra State Pre-Secondary Scholarship Examination 2021.




1. The Cancer Genome Atlas - Getting to Know the Enemy: organised by Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER- Pune), Exciting Science group and CSIR-NCL (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Chemical Laboratory) on 23rd of September 2019.

2. Workshop on Climate Change: organized by Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER- Pune), Exciting Science group and CSIR-NCL (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Chemical Laboratory) on 15th and 16th May 2018.


3. Certificate Course in Earth Science: (2 months; 13th July to 17th October 2018) with field visits, conducted by Jeevidha Education, Pune.


4. Basic Course in Practical Astronomy: (1 month course with practicals/field work) conducted by Jyotirvidya Parisanstha India’s (the oldest association of amateur astronomers in India), Pune from 28th April to 27th May 2019.


5. ‘Understanding Evolution: In Biology and Beyond’: 5 days course conducted by Maharashtra Education Society’s Community College, Pune.



6. Archeology And History Workshop organized by Department of AIHC and Archeology, Deccan College Post-Graduate & Research Institute, Pune on 10th August 2018.


7. Writing About Science for Non-Scientific Audiences (College Level): A 5 days practical course (7th to 11th of December 2020) organized by Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER- Pune), Science Media Center, Vigyan Prasar and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.


8. Creative Writing Course (College Level): organized by Internshala trainings from 1st June, 2020 to 13th July, 2020. (7 weeks). The training consisted of getting started with creative writing, fiction, editing, non-fiction, screenplay and advertising and publishing modules.


9. Geology Workshops/Lecture Series (July/August 2020): Ladakh Ophiolites, Tectonic Evolution of the Aravalli Range and Landslides Along the Transportation Corridor in the Mountainous Regions of Northern India,; organized by the Department of Geology, K J Somaiya College of Science and Commerce; Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


10. Geology Workshops/Lecture Series by the Geological Society of India (GSI) Western Chapter: Lectures by internationally renowned geo-scientists like Dr. Stephen Self, Dr. Jere Lips, Dr. Ian Steward and Dr. Hiromitsu Yamagishi.


11. Intermediate Algebra (OpenStax): (On-going) training/tutoring by Quarantutors from September 2020.


12. Training in the Ancient Indian ‘Modi’ Script: 1st to 12 June 2020.


13. Tabla (Indian Percussion Musical Instrument) training: Currently in Grade 5 of Tabla (Graduation occurs at Grade 7).


14. AP Physics – from Rice University on Edx


15. Cambridge A level (year 12) mathematics – from Imperial college of London on Edx.

16.  Certificate course in Mineralogy (A to Z of Minerals) organized by the Instucen Trust, Mumbai. The course included: 1] Introduction to crystallography, 2] Fundamentals of X-ray diffraction, 3] Mineral Groups, 4] Descriptive Mineralogy, 5] Paragenesis of minerals.


17. Goldschmidt Conference 2021 - the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society.


18. 3rd Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Annual Week 2021 - Training school for early career scientists who work in the field of planetary/space science and engineering.


19. European Geosciences Union: the 'Virtual EGU General Assembly 2021' (vEGU21) - The conference consisted of all the topics and sub-branches of the earth sciences. 


20. EUROVOLC-Nordvulk-Nordic EPOS Summer School, 20-29 September 2021, for young scientists at PhD and postdoc level (the participants were selected on the basis of the relevance of the course for their current research activities). This course was conducted by the Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland (4 ECTS graduate course JAR213F Nordvulk Summer School). Program description:  The emphasis was on monitoring of active volcanic eruptions, how the various methods, tools and models are applied to assess eruption source parameters, characteristics of both effusive and explosive eruptions and the various hazards

21. NASA - GPM (Global Precipitation Measurement Mission) Mentorship Program 2023: Training on precipitation estimates and Earth Observation by collaboration between the University of Coimbra and NASA - GPM mission.




1. Read a story - Volunteering in teaching English Language to Children in tribal areas of India who lack spoken English skills due to lack of access to English education.

2. Country Branch Manager of Quarantutors – A not for-profit organization of high school students, where high school students across the world help other students across the world with one-on-one tutoring. This is especially aimed at students whose education is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


3. Member of the African Planetarium Association (APA).


4. Co-moderated Young Science Leaders Talks (date: 9th August 2020; 2 talks by – Dr. Jayprakash, and Dr. Purabi Saikia).


5. Past Member of Pradnya Maitra (Gifted Club) of Jnana Prabhodini Institute of Psychology, Published stories, innovative (inventions) ideas, and poems for their magazine Baal-Pradnya-Naad, 2017).


6. ‘Our Earth’ exhibition (organized by Jeevidha Education): Volunteered and also presented fossils.


7. Man and Stone - Geology Exhibition (organized by Jeevidha Education, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth [University] and Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, Pune): Volunteered and also presented his own collection of Rocks and Minerals at this exhibition from 11th to 14th of October 2018.


8. Mountains and Man - Geography Exhibition (organized by Jeevidha Education): Volunteered and also presented his own project model “The Lava Flow Features in the Hills and Mountains of the Deccan Traps, India”; October 2019.


9. Active member of Vigyan Dal: A Science Club by Jnana Prabodhini Prashala (school), Pune, Maharashtra, India.


10. Online Exhibition / Covid-19 Pandemic Awareness and Education (September 2020): organized by Vigyan Dal Science Club; made a video presentation about the SIR mathematical Model of the Pandemic.


11. Participated in the ‘Electron’ Exhibition, Pune 2019 for popularizing the role of electron in daily life: organized by Vigyan Dal Science Club; Sonit had constructed an AM Transistor Radio.


12. Member of Geo-Club, Pune, India. This is a local club for the learning and popularizing Earth sciences.


13. Founder of ‘AGATE: Astronomy and Geology - Awareness, Tourism and Education'. AGATE has now been launched with the formation of geology clubs, geology quizzes, geo-board games, etc.  AGATE aims to spread the awareness of geology to the remotest of the villages across the globe, and help the rural people use the knowledge of their local geology for their sustainable development.




1. Received 3rd Prize (NATIONAL LEVEL) at the age of 9 years for Tabla (Indian Percussion Music) Solo Performance in the GLOBAL HARMONY 2016 - ALL INDIA MULTILINGUAL DRAMA / DANCE / MUSIC - FEST – CONTEST organized by Akhil Bhartiya Sanskrutik Sangh (2016) at Pune.


2. Received 2nd Prize (Cash) for Tabla (Indian Percussion Musical Instrument) in Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Award Competition (2016) organized by Sharda Sangeet Vidyalaya, Mumbai, at the age of 9 years.


3. Received 3rd Prize for Tabla Solo Performance in AAMAD PRATISHTHAN TABLA COMPETITION, Mumbai, (2015) at the age of 8 years.


4. Selected as a Child Radio Artist for Tabla performance for Akashwani, Pune (local radio station under the Government of India).


5. Skating – won many medals at district level competitions.


6. Member of ‘Nanded City Dal’, a local sports club where teenagers play traditional outdoor physical sports.


School Level Achievements

1. Won 2nd Prize in Advertisement Competition on 30th November 2013.


2. Won 2nd Prize in Declamation Competition on 14th August 2015.


3. Honored for Excellence in Academics in 2015 – 2016.


4. Won 3rd Prize in Drawing Competition on 30th November 2016.


5. Honored for Outstanding Performance in Cultural Activities in 2015 – 2016.

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