At the International Science and Engineer Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles last week, Camilla Hurst’s project of a self-cleaning door handle took away fourth prize from among 2,000 participants aged 15 to 18 from 78 countries in a major first for Luxembourg.
Just 16 years old, Camilla already has a string of impressive scientific achievements under her belt with three national competition wins and several international awards, and now adds this prize at the largest international science fair for young students in the world.
Her project concerned the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which is becoming a major public health problem. The variety of treatments but especially the prevention of the transmission of pathogenic bacteria are the solutions advocated by the public health authorities. This is the heart of Camilla Hurst’s project: after discovering a new bacterium in 2015, and then demonstrating anti-bacterial properties still unknown to untreated pine in 2016, the young researcher sought to identify and then isolate the molecule responsible for these anti-bacterial properties in 2017. In order to limit the particularly high risk of contamination in public places, she designed and built a prototype for a self-cleaning door handle which also disinfects the user’s hands whenever the mechanism is engaged.
Camilla’s multidisciplinary approach demonstrated to the American judges a global understanding of the problem and has emphasised the scope of her work in microbiology, biochemistry and engineering to help find concrete solutions to the problem. An issue as vast and comprehensive as epidemics, even pandemics.
ISEF is organised by the American Society for Science and the Public and highlights rigour and scientific innovation as well as the commitment of young people who are the researchers and innovators of tomorrow, but today offer their contribution to the challenges that shape the contemporary world.
Camilla, together with Luxembourg students Ines Bahlawane and Lavinia Kadar, was able to travel to the fair with support from the Young Scientists Foundation, Capitalatwork and Foyer Group.