What #BUILTBYGIRLS Means to 8 Teen Scientists

Share
Tweet
Pin It
Share
Tweet
Pin It
Imagine winning $150,000 to put toward your college education. Crazy, right? Well, three young science geniuses took home that much cash at this year's Intel Science Talent Search, a program of the Society for Science & the Public (SSP). These first-place Medal of Distinction award winners where honored for showing exceptional scientific potential in three categories: Basic Research, Global Good and Innovation, aka researching and creating things that can change the world.

However, they weren't alone in being celebrated or awarded with dough. 40 teen scientists and finalists, chosen from a previously recognized group of 300 semifinalists, gathered in Washington, DC for the prestigious pre-college science and math competition. The three second-place winners received $75,000 each and the three third-place winners received $35,000 each. Plus, each finalist received at least $7,500. It seriously pays to be smart!

We talked to eight female finalists from Intel's Science Talent Search about their projects, who inspires them and what #BUILTBYGIRLS means to them. Check out the inspiring answers below from these girls who are building a better future.

Yizhen Zhang

- What did you build?
I did neural network reconstructions of the blue-light-sensitive cells in our eyes that carry signals crucial for color vision, biorhythm, eye development and cognitive functions.
- Who inspires you and why?
My mentor, Dr. Wei Li, from the National Institutes of Health inspires me to explore the boundaries of science.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
To me #BUILTBYGIRLS is an opportunity and a platform to inspire more girls to become involved in STEM. With #BUILTBYGIRLS, we will be able to build towards a more equal society.

Anika Raghuvanshi

- What did you build?
I researched the memristor, which is a new technology which could revolutionize computers by making computer chips more power and space efficient. I designed algorithms and coded them to try and find the most efficient methods for implementing memristors.
- Who inspires you and why?
My sister is an inspiration to me. She has gone into the male-dominated field of computer science and has had a good experience and been successful.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
To me, this means that girls have the power and the creativity to produce incredible things. More needs to be done to help girls realize this potential.

Emily Ashkin

- What did you build?
My research represents a new paradigm in cancer therapy for the treatment of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
- Who inspires you?
After watching my mom battle skin cancer when I was 11, I became inspired to understand this disease and get my feet wet in the field. Watching her suffer and persevere motivated me to work toward making an impact on treatment using science and research.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
#BUILTBYGIRLS represents the pride of girls forging ahead in STEM fields. We are making an incredible impact and we present remarkable perspectives. #BUILTBYGIRLS means never letting gender be a limitation for achieving your goals.

Anvita Gupta

- What did you build?
I focused on reducing the time and cost of drug discovery by combining artificial intelligence with biochemistry to "teach" the computer to identify drug leads for Cancer, Tuberculosis, and Ebola, by targeting a class of proteins common in all these diseases.
- Who inspires you and why?
I am really inspired by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia. A second generation immigrant, she suffered from a genetic eye disorder that left her blind by the time she was in high school, and her father died when she was a teenager. She still went on to receive a 2400 on the SAT and a doctorate from Stanford, overcoming all odds. Her research is also some of the most interesting that I have ever seen-- she studies how people make choices and view the art of making decisions based on their upbringing. She found that people are unable to make decisions when they have an excessive amount of choices, with her famous jam study. She inspires me with her dedication to discovery and her ability to overcome whatever life has thrown at her with optimism and poise.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
I think that "building" has traditionally been thought of as having very male connotations-- building a house, building muscle, making things bigger. Words like "support" and "nourish" or "nurture" have usually had more female connotations. #BUILTBYGIRLS shows that girls don't have to be relegated to passive roles - we can develop and design anything we want, and have an active role in building our future and our dreams.

Kriti Lall

- What did you build?
In my project, I built a novel water treatment system to remove arsenic from water inexpensively for use in developing countries.
- Who inspires you?
I'm really inspired by powerful women role models in science, such as Marie Curie and Elizabeth Blackburn.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
I think it means that regardless of gender, we can do whatever we set our minds to. It doesn't matter whether you're a girl or a boy. You set your own limits on what you can achieve.

Catherine Li

- What did you build?
I developed a new method of producing biodegradable microparticles designed for drug delivery and imaging, with potential applications in personalized cancer therapy.
- Who inspires you?
I'm most inspired by Rosalind Franklin (a chemist who helped discover the structure of DNA) and Malala Yousafzai, because they each fearlessly committed themselves to passions that were difficult, complex and noble.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
#BUILTBYGIRLS recognizes the ideas and dreams that are made possible through the efforts of girls, and emphasizes the power that our population has to change the world by pursuing what matters to us.

Emily Spencer

- What did you build?
For my project I developed a polymer that can heal itself when exposed to light and revert back to a remembered state when exposed to heat; in the future this material could be used as a coating on cars, easily healing larger scratches.
- Who inspires you?
I am inspired by the scientists I grew up watching. My passion for science started with space, so I grew up looking to astronauts and astrophysicists as role models. I was inspired by Michio Kaku's books and Stephen Hawking's TV specials on the science channel. In high school I was inspired by the older girls in my school who were also doing research. They knew their projects so well and were so passionate about the work that they were doing, it made me want to experience it myself.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
#BUILTBYGIRLS means showing girls that they have the ability to do whatever they want with their lives. With hard work and a strong passion, everyone has a chance to make their dreams come true. For me that starts in the lab. The infinitely expanding boundaries in the field of materials science means that innovation is coming from the dreamers, and girls have the opportunity to make up the next generation of dreamers with the conviction to make things happen.

Kalia Firester

- What did you build?
I identified a protein secreted by destructive plant parasites that enables their infection and I genetically engineered plants to suppress the protein leading to decreased parasitic development which could eventually be used to develop resistant crops.
- Who inspires you and why?
I am constantly inspired by my mentors, Dr. Sigal Brown Horowitz and Dr. Ionit Iberkleid. Both are creative and exceptional researchers who believe in the importance of science that has important applications to real world problems.
- What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
The idea of empowering young women to participate in whatever they want is one that I see is omnipresent in the communities of young scientists I have been privileged to meet both in Intel STS and Intel ISEF. Being in this community has been exceptionally important so I would say that #BUILTBYGIRLS means a community of inspiring women engaging and encouraging each other.

MORE CELEB SCOOPS

Show Comments

Follow Cambio

THIS JUST IN!

Join Our Newsletter
Stay fetch. Sign up for The Cray, our daily roundup of all things buzzworthy. From Kylie Jenner's trendsetting style (btw, puberty goals AF) to life-changing tech news (tweeting an emoji to order a pizza #YES), The Cray is all you need to impress the squad.
Privacy Terms