Prady Manepalli credits his success to a willingness to put time into a subject if he doesn't get it the first time -- and it seems his strategy is paying off.

The senior at Smithtown High School West has won accolades in local and national science competitions, including a second-place spot in the category of engineering materials and bioengineering at the 2012 Long Island Science & Engineering Fair. He was among 300 semifinalists nationwide earlier this year in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search.

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His project involved attempting to load chemotherapeutic agents onto a variant of carbon called graphene nanoribbons, in an attempt to see if they could deliver drugs into cells.

"My project had very interesting results in that I found graphene could deliver drugs, but only to specific cells," said Manepalli, 17. "The only cells that would take up graphene are those that were caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)."

Manepalli is president of his school's National Honor Society and runs a tutoring group in which high schoolers help struggling middle school students. In addition, he organizes students to pitch in every other week at a soup kitchen in East Setauket.