It’s been another typical summer for the world’s most renowned teenage scientist.
Along with writing his autobiography, Jack Andraka, 17, has logged countless hours at a Georgetown University lab working on various projects, including a water filtration system made from crushed plastic bottles, nanorobots that could one day be injected into humans to fight cancer and new type of paint that will remove contaminants from the air inside buildings.
“It’s amazing all the opportunities I’m having,” he tells PEOPLE. “I have this life I never could have imagined.”
The high school senior first made headlines in April, when news broke that at the age of 15, he had created a simple, inexpensive test to detect pancreatic cancer that costs three cents and gives results in five minutes.
Andraka’s autobiography Breakthrough – published by HarperCollins and due out in March 2015 – chronicles the self-described science and math nerd’s journey from bullying victim to world-traveling science booster.
“There’s this stereotype that a lot of youth have that science is a boring field,” he says. “But it’s incredibly creative, and I just wanted to share my passion about science through my story and help inspire other youth to get into it.”
In the book, Andraka also recounts grappling with his homosexuality and how it led to his being “ostracized” by students and teachers at his middle school, leading to his decision to often eat his lunch in the restroom.
“It was like that classic Mean Girls scene where I would use the toilet paper holder as my table,” he says. “It was definitely a really hard period in my life.”
The plucky, self-effacing teen, once described as the Edison of our times, has definitely put the past behind him. These days, the white-water kayaking enthusiast and origami freak is busy filling out college applications. He hopes to attend Stanford University, where he wants to major in bio-engineering.
And one more thing: He’s looking forward to the day folks stop calling him a “wunderkind.”
“I don’t view myself as a whiz kid,” Andraka says, laughing. “I just see myself as a scientist who happens to be a kid.”
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