Olivia Hallisey is a teenager from the United States who just won about ₦10,000,000 in scholarship funds at the 2015 Google Science Fair for her innovation that detects Ebola. Olivia’s detection test costs just about ₦5,000 and can be stored and transported without refrigeration. It can determine if a person is infected within 3o minutes, according to the contest’s site. The fair is open to students in most countries between the ages of 13 and 18, and Olivia became the winner after the competition had been reduced to 20 contestants from across the globe.
She was inspired to tackle the global issue after watching helplessly from home as more than 10,000 people died from the recent epidemic that ravaged through West Africa. What moved her to start work on it was the fact that while it is highly possible to survive Ebola if detected early, current detection methods are very expensive, time-consuming, and require complex tools and constant refrigeration in a region known for constant power cuts.
This is how the test works. It can be done on a four-channel card, where substances known as reagents would react with a patient’s Ebola antigens (any substance that the body does not recognise). The test can be done with a sample like saliva A silk film would keep the reagents at room temperature, avoiding the need for refrigeration.
Olivia hopes to one day become a physician and work with an aid organization like Doctors Without Borders, and encouraged everyone to work together to find answers to the challenges that face our world. She hopes that her success will inspire other girls interested in science and computers to pursue their passions. She also had this to say:
I would just encourage girls just to try it in the beginning, 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.
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