Sixteen-year-old Girl Develops Better, Faster Ebola Test

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Travis Davis, Staff Reporter

A 16-year-old student from Greenwich, Connecticut has found a way to speed up the testing for the deadly Ebola virus. Her name is Olivia Hallisey and her name will be remembered throughout history.

Ebola, as some might know, had the world on edge at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. It was spread across African nations and made it’s way over to North America, where the first reported case was October 23rd, 2014. For a while, the Ebola virus had doctors and scientists stupefied on how to either cure it or even find ways to detect it faster. What use to take about 12 hours to detect now takes a mere 30 minutes, thanks to Olivia Hallisey’s Ebola Assay Card.

Previous tests also had to be kept refrigerated, which is a huge problem in many rural parts of Africa.  The special component of Hallisey’s test is a kind of shelf-stable silk solution which does not have to be kept cold.

What started as a science project for Google’s annual competition turned into something that could potentially save lives. Olivia knew she wanted to do a project based on disease but what she didn’t know was that it would be something good. In an interview with CNBC, when asked how she decided on her project she said,  “I knew I wanted a simple and stable solution to a complex problem like infectious diseases. So I started looking into ways on how to limit the spread of this deadly disease.”

Olivia has recently inspired many young girls to go beyond the limits that have been ‘set’ for them. Some girls (even here in America) have the mindset that they can only do traditional things girls are supposed to do. This project has opened many doors and ideas in many different ways for young girls to prove themselves. Now when they see or hear about Olivia’s story, they can know that their gender is not going to stop them from doing big things.

For years women have been fighting to be treated as equals in many fields, but especially in the hard (laboratory) sciences.  By demonstrating her strength at solving major world problems, Olivia has shown that women can do science just as well–or better–than men.