On May 21, the 13 finalists of the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action award, powered by the Google Science Fair, were announced. In this blog series, we shed light on the students behind the projects. On June 6, the winner of the Science in Action award will be announced.
Project: Investigating Natural Postemergent Herbicides
How does your project impact the community you grew up in?
I have grown up in a community where almost every yard is sprayed with chemical herbicides, and local farmers are still using dangerous chemicals on crops, allowing toxins to enter our ecosystem. Herbicides not only contaminate the air we breathe and grass kids play on but can also accumulate in streams, rivers, and lakes, especially in areas with heavy rainfall, and contaminate our drinking water supply. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), approximately 4.3 million Americans use drinking water that contain amounts of carcinogenic herbicides exceeding the acceptable cancer risk. Exposure to chemical herbicides can cause not only cancer but also birth defects, irritation of the skin, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Because of these numerous health hazards, the increasing amount of chemical herbicides in my community and others throughout the world is a serious concern. Using effective natural herbicides as an alternative can help improve the quality of our air, water, soil, and overall health, while also limiting other negative environmental impacts of chemical herbicides such as endangerment of species.
What does being recognized as a Science in Action Award finalist mean to you?
I see it as an incredible opportunity and an awesome chance to share my findings with others. Because Google and Scientific American are renowned for sponsoring innovation, I am truly honored to be recognized by both, especially as a finalist for a prize based on making a practical difference. I especially hope that my project being recognized will further environmental research to eliminate toxins in our world. Receiving the Science in Action Award would also enable me to hopefully pursue my scientific research at a college of my dreams.
If you could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, whom would you choose?
If I could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, I would choose Thomas Edison because of his numerous inventions which transformed the lives of many such as the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, and nickel-iron batteries, Paul Langerhans because he contributed to the discovery of insulin, which was revolutionary in the treatment of diabetes, and Charles Fritz who was a pioneer in solar energy and created the first true photovoltaic cell, helping limit fossil fuel usage.
Why did you decide to enter the Google Science Fair?
Frankly speaking, I decided to enter Google Science Fair because of my friend’s encouragement. He was the one who told me about the Google Science Fair competition. When I checked the Google Science Fair website, I was really amazed to see how my peers can come up with such amazing scientific ideas. Their projects make me think, “If they can come out with such an amazing idea, I could do it too!” That was the main driving force on why I decided to enter Google Science Fair.
Who are your scientific inspirations and why?
I believe that both of my mentors, Mr. Bill Chia and Dr. Goh Yan Yih are my scientific inspirations throughout this project. Both of them actually stimulate my thinking process by asking a series of questions on why I do certain things throughout the course of my experiment. This project would not be possible without the help of my two mentors.
What do you think was the most revolutionary invention of the past 100 years and why? The past 10 years?
Nanotechnology, in my opinion, is the most revolutionary invention of the past 100 years. This is because nanotechnology has brought our science paradigm to the whole new level where more sustainable materials, devices, or other structures can be developed.