IMPACT

Teen Who Invented $25 Ebola Detection Test Wins Huge Google Prize

The test can determine if a person has Ebola within 30 minutes.

The world could be one step closer to quick and inexpensive Ebola detection thanks to a teenager from Connecticut.  

Olivia Hallisey, a junior at Greenwich High School, was awarded $50,000 in scholarship funds in the 2015 Google Science Fair for her innovation that detects Ebola. Olivia's invention costs $25 a test, can be stored and transported without refrigeration and determines if a person is infected within 3o minutes, according to the contest’s site.

Olivia was inspired to tackle the global issue after watching helplessly from home as more than 10,000 people died from the recent epidemic that ravaged through West Africa, she told CNBC. She was particularly dismayed by the fact that, while early interventions can improve survival rates, current detection methods are costly, time-consuming and require complex tools and constant refrigeration, she noted in her project’s description. 

Olivia elicited guidance from her science research teacher and direction from past research according to Greenwich Time, and looked to detection mechanisms that have proven to work with other diseases, including HIV, Lyme disease and yellow fever.

“We have to work together to find answers to the enormous challenges that threaten global health, our environment and our world,” she told Greenwich Time.

The Connecticut teen, who hopes to one day become a physician and work with an aid organization like Doctors Without Borders, was named the Google Science Fair winner after the competition had been whittled down to 20 contestants from across the globe. The fair is open to students in most countries between in the ages of 13 and 18.

Olivia hopes her success will inspire other girls interested in science and computers to pursue their passions.

"I would just encourage girls just to try it in the beginning, remind them that they don't have to feel naturally drawn or feel like they have a special talent for math or science,” she told CNBC, “but just really just look at something they are interested in and then think how to improve something or make it more enjoyable or relate it to their interests." 

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