Sixteen-year-old budding scientist Olivia Hallisey took the 2015 Google Science Fair by storm last week with a new test for the Ebola virus that would only cost $25 and could detect the virus within 30 minutes.
Hallisey’s test is made with silk fibers, which not only make the test cheaper, but make it temperature independent, meaning it does not need to be refrigerated. This would make the test easier to transport and house in hotter countries that previously have not been able to access other testing methods.
Hallisey was inspired to create the test as she read about and witnessed the epidemic in West Africa as it killed over 10,000 people in 2014. While Hallisey’s invention is not a cure for the virus, early detection and responses to the virus can increase survival rates among the affected as well as decrease risk of further exposure to the area.
The young scientist beat out 22 other finalists to receive the Google Science Fair’s top prize, a prestigious honor for young scientists that goes to the participant with the most promising and impressive proposal. For her efforts, Hallisey won a $50,000 scholarship, which she hopes to put towards her future dream career of becoming a physician for Doctors Without Borders or other similar organizations.
Being a young woman scientist, Hallisey has expressed her desire to see other girls her age get involved in the field regardless of their skill level or what they think they can or can’t do. “I would just encourage girls just to try it in the beginning” she said to CNBC. “Remind them that they don’t have to feel naturally drawn or feel like they have a special talent for math or science, but just really just look at something they are interested in and then think how to improve something or make it more enjoyable or relate it to their interests.”
Cover image courtesy of All About Circuits.