More

This teen just found a possibly life-saving new way to diagnose deadly diseases.

She won the Google Science Fair, but the real winner is humanity.

This teen just found a possibly life-saving new way to diagnose deadly diseases.
True
the Ad Council - #TrendOnThis

Why is Olivia Hallisey celebrating? Because she just kicked butt at the Google Science Fair and took home gold.

The Connecticut high school student recently won the grand prize in the 16-18 category at the 2015 Google Science Fair. Her project — developing a quick, easy, and accurate test for Ebola — won the judges' hearts for its potential to make a big change in the world.


Woo! Congrats! GIF from Google Science Fair.

Olivia's project stemmed from the devastating Ebola outbreak that spread across parts of West Africa.

As is the case with many diseases, the earlier we're able to diagnose Ebola, the better the patients' chances are for recovery and for reducing the risk of further spreading the disease.

Part of what makes Ebola particularly devastating is that early diagnosis is especially difficult because the early symptoms aren't particularly unique. Here's what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say:

"Diagnosing Ebola in a person who has been infected for only a few days is difficult because the early symptoms, such as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola infection and often are seen in patients with more common diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever. ... Ebola virus is detected in blood only after onset of symptoms ... It may take up to three days after symptoms start for the virus to reach detectable levels."

GIF from Google Science Fair 2015.

And according to Olivia, the problem with current Ebola testing is that the tests require special tools and take half a day to produce a diagnosis:

"Current methods of Ebola detection utilize enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ("ELISA") detection kits which cost approximately $1.00 each, require complex instrumentation, trained medical professionals to administer, and up to 12 hours from testing to diagnosis."

But what if there were a way to reduce the complexity of the ELISA test for Ebola? That could save lives.

Currently, Ebola tests are really complicated, involving vials and blood samples and other fancy lab equipment, but they also require 12 hours of temperature regulation that can really only be achieved in a lab setting.

Olivia took the same components, used silk fibers to stabilize them, and put the whole test and all its laboratory components on a piece of card stock.

Here's what her innovation looks like in action:

Olivia's card-stock test seen here against a black background. GIF from Olivia Hallisey.

Soon, testing for Ebola could be as simple as just adding water.

In Olivia's version of the test, chemicals used to detect the Ebola protein-bound antibodies are placed at three corners of the paper with anti-Ebola antibodies in the center.

Adding drops of water to the end of each arm of the card stock test moves the chemicals toward the center of the paper. Once the chemicals, the serum sample (blood) from the person being tested, and the water combine, the color in the center changes to give either a positive or negative reading.

In this case, a positive reading is when the test goes from blue to yellow (as you see in the GIF above).

The real breakthrough here, though, is that Olivia's innovation has made it possible for people to test for Ebola in their own homes.

This could eventually lead to easier, cheaper, faster tests for other diseases.

Given that ELISA tests can be used to detect a variety of antibodies, it's possible that Olivia's project could pave the way for at-home testing for HIV, Lyme disease, celiac disease, or even food allergies.

So cool!

GIF from Google Science Fair 2015.

Olivia was awarded a $50,000 scholarship and some much-deserved praise.

She told CNBC she plans on attending college and working for a global health organization: "I want to look everywhere, go anywhere to help people, I'm really excited about the future."

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy took to Twitter to congratulate the young scientist.


Olivia and the other finalists had the chance to meet another young science enthusiast — clock-making teen Ahmed Mohamed.


While the tests aren't being mass produced and distributed just yet, her work sets out an important proof of concept.

Being able to cut the time it takes to get results from 12 hours to just 30 minutes is nothing to scoff at, especially when the results come with similar accuracy to the standard lab test. But there's work to do before it goes from a creative project to a true weapon in the fight against infectious disease.

Interested in hearing Olivia describe her project? Check out her video below.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less