LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A local high school student is celebrating a big finish in an international competition.

Central High School Junior Meghana Bollimpalli has won the gold for placing first in the world environmental competition “GENIUS Olympiad.”

Just last year, the 16-year-old won the silver at the same event.

We caught up with her in the lab at UA Little Rock, where she’s working on her newest project, looking for a sustainable alternative to petroleum.

“I utilized waste carbon monoxide, which represents 82 percent of all greenhouse gases, to make molecules that are used in everyday applications,” Meghana explains.

The GENIUS Olympiad is the world’s largest environmentally-focused science fair. Meghana represented the United States and competed against students from 70 other countries.

Since then, she’s been invited to other international science fairs and she’s bringing home awards.

“It’s definitely a lot of work because finding a balance between attending these competitions and still managing to study for my AP exams, it’s kind of hard,” she says.

But the experience has taught her a lot and has opened the door to more opportunities.

Meghana has been preparing for her comeback at this year’s GENIUS Olympiad, against representing the U.S.

“This experience has definitely taught me a lot,” Meghana continues. “Especially on perserverance because in research one thing you’re going to learn really, really quickly is that you’re not going to get your answer on your first, second, even third try.”

Meghana does research with the help of mentors at UA Little Rock.

“My mentor is Dr. Anindya Ghosh and my supervisor was Mr. Andrew Brant and they’ve played a crucial role in my research,” she says.

She puts these projects together and competes because it’s her passion.

“Mine was obviously the environment and I’ve grown to love it and I think that if you find your passion you will succeed in anything that you do because you will be enjoying what you do,” Meghana says.

Meghana wants to continue her studies at Princeton University and earn a dual major in Economics and Environmental Engineering.