16-Year-Old Wins Highest Prize of $75,000 in Prestigious Science Fair for Her Work on Biomedical Implants

When most people think of school science fairs, images of baking soda volcanoes and egg drops may fill their minds. However, for the most driven STEM students, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) provides a far greater opportunity to showcase their inventions and research, as well as compete for significant amounts of money to further finance their projects. Grace Sun, a 16-year-old from Lexington, Kentucky, was awarded the highest prize of $75,000 at this year’s fair for her work on biomedical implants. Grace’s research focused on improving the components that go into biomedical devices, specifically organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs). Made of silicon, these components are soft and flexible, potentially useful for complex implants in the brain or heart. However, OECTs often degrade in the body, causing instability and low mobility, making them unreliable for many patients.

Grace spent six months researching and developing a novel chemical treatment for these organic components, significantly enhancing their laboratory performance. The young scientist hopes her improvements can lead to the development of more reliable OECTs capable of detecting and treating conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, organ failure, and various autoimmune diseases. Ian Jandrell, a judging co-chair for the materials science category at ISEF, emphasized the significance of Grace’s project, noting its clear contribution and the strong consensus among judges that it merited a top award. Looking ahead, Grace aspires to further her research and eventually start her own company. For those interested in her work, Grace’s submitted research provides detailed insights into her innovative approach to biomedical implants.

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