Palm Harbor Alum wins The Earthshot Prize for work addressing climate change

Aadith Moorthy has never shied away from solving big problems.

As his Palm Harbor University High School chemistry teacher Bob Dull can attest, Moorthy not only challenged his teachers to develop more complex concepts, but he also solved them in unconventional ways.

That same problem-solving ability has matriculated into Moorthy’s life work, except, instead of chemistry equations, Moorthy is now addressing climate change on a global scale.

Moorthy was awarded The Earthshot Prize on Nov. 7, 2023 in Singapore. The award is championed by Founder and President, Britain's Prince William, and is often compared to the Nobel Prize or the Oscars of environmental action.

“Winning The Earthshot Prize has definitely helped us accelerate, because it’s a growing brand out there in the sustainability world,” Moorthy said from his office in San Mateo, California. “And having the recognition enables us to ultimately work with more clients, work with more partners, work with more farmers and just accelerate our scaling.”

In 2016, Moorthy founded his company, originally known as ConserWater. It is now called Boomitra, which means ‘Friends of the Earth’ in Sanskrit. He describes his company as an international soil carbon marketplace. The company uses satellite and AI technology to measure, report, and verify soil carbon credits across the globe and compensates farmers for using sustainable soil practices. The ultimate goal is to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere on a gigaton scale to keep up with or even surpass humanity’s emissions.

“The farmers benefit from the sale of carbon credits, and indirectly, they benefit from good agricultural practices because their soil is more fertile with more carbon in it,” Moorthy explained. “We are also benefitting the companies that purchase the carbon credits because they are meeting their sustainability goals. As well as we are benefitting the planet. So it’s a win-win-win business model.”

Moorthy began his climate crusade as an undergrad student at the California Institute of Technology, where he attended right after graduating from Palm Harbor in 2014. He credits the innovation and technology at Palm Harbor’s International Baccalaureate program with enabling him to get a head start at CalTech.

“I was always lucky to have good opportunities for accelerated learning in the PCS schools,” said Moorthy, who attended Ridgecrest Elementary, Palm Harbor Middle School and PHUHS. “When I went to CalTech, thanks to what I went through at PHU, I was able to get an accelerated start, which made it more feasible for me to double-major.”

While in high school, Moorthy not only took a rigorous assortment of AP and IB classes, but he also competed on the Science Bowl team, in the Chemathon and was active in the Science National Honor Society. He received a perfect score on his AP Calculus exam as well as the SAT.

“Aadith was one of the top two students I had in my career,” said Dull, who taught for 38 years, including 18 as a science teacher at Palm Harbor. “He was always very competitive in knowledge-based competitions and loved to be challenged. He was always thinking ahead.”

That foresight has allowed Moorthy to go from high school graduate to CalTech graduate, to Stanford graduate to Stanford Ph.D. student to the founder of a global company in 10 short years. Moorthy was also named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for social impact this year. But he’s not slowing down any time soon.

With The Earthshot Prize came a $1 million stipend, and, for Moorthy, an increased responsibility to scale up.

“Now, we have a mandate from the world to really accomplish most or hopefully all of the great expectations that are placed on us by the international community,” Moorthy said. “It’s a journey that’s going to be a lot of execution. But I will not give a prediction of what is beyond that.”

As far as his message to the graduates of his former high school, Moorthy advises them to remember the fundamentals and don’t limit themselves.

But then again, he is always thinking big.

“People often underestimate what can happen in the very long term and overestimate what they can accomplish in the short term,” Moorthy said. “So just have strong fundamentals and be open to what’s next.”