GHS junior is Google Global Science Fair 2015 Grand Prize Winner

Greenwich High School (GHS) junior Olivia Hallisey is the Google Global Science Fair 2015 Grand Prize Winner. Prompted by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa, Olivia developed a quick, inexpensive, and accurate detection of the virus that does not require refrigeration.

“Winning (will) enable me to continue to develop my Ebola Assay Card as a multiple disease diagnostic assay, and to make a meaningful impact on global health through the early detection of often fatal diseases. I am inspired by Dr. Kent Brantly, who showed the global community our collective moral obligation to act with courage and compassion,” said Olivia in her Google Science Fair profile.

As the Grand Prize winner, Olivia will receive $50,000 in scholarship funding. The $50,000 Google scholarship is intended to further the Grand Prize winner’s education.

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Summary of Olivia Hallisey’s research project (from

Temperature-independent, portable, and rapid field detection of Ebola via a silk-derived lateral-flow system

Current Ebola detection methods are complex, expensive, require unbroken refrigeration from manufacture to use and up to 12 hours from testing to confirmed diagnosis. This research creates a “stable and stored at room temperature” temperature-independent Ebola Assay Card (EAC), which utilizes the stabilizing properties of silk fibroin to “break the cold chain” and allow for water-activated detection of Ebola antigens, with detection limits that are analogous to current sandwich ELISA techniques. The EAC provides rapid, inexpensive, accurate detection of Ebola viral antigens based on color change within 30 minutes in individuals prior to their becoming symptomatic and infectious.

Fellow GHS junior Margaret Cirino was recognized as a Regional Finalist in the Google Science Fair 2015, earning GHS two honorees in the top-90 of this global competition of thousands of young scientists. Her research proposed the novel synthesis of a dissolvable and biocompatible cornstarch/PVA micro-carrier that is hydrotropic and easily maneuverable with electromagnetic fields or other external stimuli. This device would potentially be able to deliver drugs to targeted parts of the body and rival other current drug delivery options.

Olivia Hallisey and Margaret Cirino will be recognized by the Board of Education at the September 24, 2015 meeting at Julian Curtiss School, at 7 p.m.

Olivia and Margaret are both students in the GHS Honors Science Research course, taught by Andrew Bramante. The Honors Science Research is a unique course at Greenwich High School. Those who take the course are highly motivated, independent students interested in pursuing original science research in biological, physical, medical, engineering, math and/or technology studies. Students have the opportunity to develop and conduct independent research projects and participate in the research experience. Students also develop the skills of reporting and presenting research as well as have the opportunity to interact with practicing scientists. Research projects involve significant effort, leading to entry in local, state and/or national science and engineering forums and competitions.

About the Google Science Fair: The Google Science Fair is a global online science and technology competition open to individuals and teams from ages 13 to 18.

Google Science Fair Awards Ceremony Presenter Derek Muller with Grand Prize Winner Olivia Hallisey, a junior at Greenwich High School.

Google Science Fair Awards Ceremony Presenter Derek Muller with Grand Prize Winner Olivia Hallisey, a junior at Greenwich High School.

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