International Women's Day: 5 Young Women in STEM You Should Totally Know About

There are many incredible women in STEM that are giving their all to make the world a better place. For this year’s International Women’s Day we want to shine the spotlight on 5 young women in STEM that are changing the world today and will continue to change the world tomorrow.

1. Shriya Reddy, 15: Rapid Diagnosis of Melanoma Lesions

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Currently, the only way to diagnose melanoma is through biopsy. Shriya’s innovative, noninvasive approach, which can be thought of best as a dye agent is an absolute contrast to biopsy. 

The new substance uses antibodies with tiny nanospheres of gold attached to them to make them illuminate near the cancerous cells. Using Shriya’s approach, doctors can smear some cream or oil containing the antibodies which makes cancerous cells glow while noncancerous cells will not glow in infrared light. 

The 15-year-old is confident that her test is the best cost-effective alternative to 60% of biopsies for melanoma and that it can save millions of dollars in developing countries.

2. Hannah Herbst, 19 Years Old: Beacon Hydroelectric Generator

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When she was 16, Hannah’s parents enrolled her in an engineering camp for the summer where she was the only girl attending. While having to decide on a project she would make at the camp, Hannah drew inspiration from her Ethiopian pen-pal who lived in a community with little access to electricity. 

This led Hannah to create an ocean energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source for developing countries using untapped energy from ocean currents. She won the Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge in 2015 with her prototype and is working on taking it from prototype to real-life application. 

She has since gone on to explore early identification methods for hazardous airborne chemicals in collaboration with I-SENSE at Florida Atlantic University and is currently studying the properties of shark skin for medical applications!

3. Kara Fan, 14: Nano-Silver Liquid Bandage

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At only 14, Kara Fan won the 2019 3M Young Scientist Challenge with her invention – a first aid liquid bandage using nano-silver technology to reduce the risk of superbug infections caused by antibiotic overuse. Incredible, right? 

Kara used the biosynthesis method to create a nano-silver solution using lemon leaf and silver nitrate to effectively kill and prevent the growth of bacteria. Her solution was tested using the Kirby-Bauer Method against Staphylococcus, E. Coli K12 and Bacillus Subtilis.

She formulated this nano-silver liquid bandage to replace the use of more commonly used over-the-counter antibiotics ointments and first aid treatments. With her invention, Kara hopes to reduce the number of incidents related to drug-resistant infections.

4. Allison Jia, 17 - Investigation into Toxic Tau Protein Aggregates

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Allison was one of the two winners of 2019’s Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award. She developed a new way to make tau proteins, biological components that are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, more easily visible for research purposes. 

Okay, but how? Well, Kara traced toxic tau proteins tagged with nano-sized particles called quantum dots (which glow in ultraviolet light) in brain cells. Her system enabled researchers to visualize an important step of the neurodegeneration process and gain a better understanding of how Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases affect the brain.


Cool, but what are tau proteins? And what are quantum dots? 

Tau Proteins are a group of six highly soluble protein isoforms that have roles primarily in the stability of microtubules in axons. They are abundant in the neurons of the central nervous systems. Tau proteins are essential to the well functioning of the brain and issues caused by malformation or degeneration of tau proteins is known to be a cause for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Quantum dots are tiny particles of nanocrystals of a semiconducting material with diameters in the range of 2-10 nanometers. First discovered in the 1980s, they display unique electronic properties with one of the most apparent results of using quantum dots being fluorescence.

5. Alyssa Carson, 18 - Future Mars Walker

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When she was 3 years old, Alyssa told her dad she wanted to be an astronaut. Since that day, she’s worked tirelessly to achieve her dream. 

At 16 years old she became the youngest person to have ever graduated from the Advanced Space Academy, the first person to have completed all of NASA’s seven Space Camps, and received certification in applied astronautics. Alyssa can officially do a suborbital research flight and fly into space, all before getting her driver’s licence. 

As one of the world’s youngest astronauts in training, she could be one of the first people on Mars in the early 2030s planned mission which she is very excited about. She is an inspirational figure to many children, advocating and encouraging them to follow their dreams just as she did. 

Alyssa has also spoken out on how happy she is to see more female astronauts coming into the space programme and her wish to see more women engineers, rocket testers and in all sorts of STEM careers. Go, Alyssa!

We are really looking forward to seeing what these 5 young ladies achieve in the next years and are excited to see more and more young women following a career in STEM! 

Happy International Women’s Day! 

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