Deepesh Patel's Story

Author: Deepesh Patel
Deepesh Patel's Story

Deepesh travelled to the Peruvian Amazon to research and identify the natural medicinal properties of plants in the rainforest.

The Fellowship

Deepesh is one of the youngest people to be awarded a Churchill Fellowship. At the age of 18 he travelled to Canada and Peru to work with researchers to investigate the ethnobotanical potential of floral and fauna in the Peruvian Amazon (mainly in primary and secondary rainforest in the Manu Biosphere Reserve).

Prior to this, Deepesh was a winner of the National Science and Engineering Competition and went on to study Natural Sciences at Durham University.

During this time and whilst embarking on his Churchill Fellowship, he led the student-run project, ‘Canopy to Cures’, a science education project for schools which stemmed out of his scientific research in the Amazon.

The Churchill Fellowship involved Deepesh working with indigenous communities, mapping the distribution of medicinal and useful plants in the Manu National Park, as well as visiting indigenous Andean communities in villages to speak to people about their reliance on medicinal plants in their rainforest.

The Results

Canopy to Cures promoted the use of plants as natural remedies, and demonstrated the importance of ethnobiology and continued plant science research today. The expedition was documented on the Canopy to Cures blog. Deepesh contributed towards the production of a botanical inventory which identified nearly 500 plant species, many of which have medicinal properties. Deepesh and the team used the knowledge of indigenous communities extensively, and this played a crucial part in the study. 

On his return, Deepesh worked with the London Film School, the Rotary Foundation and the RSA to create a film on medicinal plants, which was showcased at film festivals, the prestigious British Science Festival and at schools and colleges around the UK. His research has also taken him to visit Montreal's Secretariat to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Science Box was his most recent project, which grew out of Canopy to Cures. It was a social enterprise which provided interactive science workshops for young people. It delivered workshops at over 60 schools, inspiring and enthusing students in STEM. Science Box was featured on the BBC News and in The Guardian.

Deepesh is currently an advisor to the Youth CREST Panel of the British Science Association. He is an active STEM Ambassador and has spoken to over 3000 students throughout his career. He also sits as a Digital Advisor for the London International Youth Science Forum.

Deepesh recently became appointed a School Governor and sits on the governing board for a primary school in Lambeth, South London.

In 2013, Deepesh was selected as one of only forty young people to join the New Entrepreneurs Foundation – a prestigious scheme to equip entrepreneurs with hands on experience, skills and networks to build scalable businesses.

He now works in the Digital Team at Travelex.