Third Time is the Charm for Local Teenage Science Wiz

Brevard County’s Zachary Loeb Wins Orlando Science Center Competition For Finding Solutions to Prevent, Eliminate Chemical Pollutants in Waterways

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 28, 2014) — Zachary Loeb, a senior from Brevard County’s Viera High School, took home the top prize in the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition, an annual event hosted by Orlando Science Center. Loeb won a trophy, a $5,000 cash scholarship plus $1,000 awards for his science teacher and his school. It was his third consecutive year competing in the contest and his first time taking the grand prize.

Since 1999, philanthropist, scientist and entrepreneur Dr. Nelson Ying has worked with Orlando Science Center to encourage the outstanding scientific accomplishments of our community’s teens. Projects submitted are required to have the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity.

Loeb’s winning research was the continuation of a multi-year effort which focuses on contaminants in the water supply, specifically industrial hormones and naturally occurring hormones, that accumulate and cause reproductive problems for alligators, fish and people. He developed a way to remove those hormones from the water supply more affordably and more effectively. In fact, his method is 25 times more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine and much cheaper. His process can do what a water treatment plant does in one step.

Loeb was inspired to pursue this research because he is an avid fisherman and lover of fish, and was motivated after reading an article about black bass becoming feminized due to hormones in the water. If fish are all one sex, they can’t reproduce and the species will become extinct. This has implications for humans who eat the fish as it can produce birth defects.

The remaining projects were Orange County’s Catherine Li from Lake Highland Preparatory School, who has developed a new method to synthesize nanoparticles especially designed for drug delivery applications, with an ultimate goal of cancer treatment; Seminole County’s Nikhil Patel of Oviedo High School, who has identified early indicators of cognitive impairment, for instance, the ability to predict the likelihood a person is going to develop Alzheimer’s Disease; Brevard County’s Alexandra Gabrielski of Viera High School, who has increased the efficiency of algae as a biofuel by reducing the cost of its production; and Seminole County’s Samuel Brenner of Seminole High School, who has designed a software package to analyze fractal and multifractal structures in stellar phenomena.

This year, the 16th Annual Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition was held April 25 to April 27. The event included the finalists defending their research before the judges’ panel and taking exclusive behind-the-scenes tours at key technology sites, including the Siemens Energy wind service training center and the OUC water treatment plant. The awards were distributed during a ceremony on April 27 at Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney.

Research projects were solicited from students in high schools or homeschool equivalents in Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Lake, Osceola, Volusia and Sumter Counties. Only five finalists were chosen following a thorough review by a distinguished panel of judges, which included engineers, scientists and educators from NASA, Rollins College and the University of Central Florida.

Orlando Science Center partners with Ying each year to host this competition to celebrate the amazing research being performed by our region’s young scientists and inspire young people to become tomorrow’s science and technology innovators.

For more information, call 407.514.2000 or visit Download photos of the finalists and the awards ceremony at the following Dropbox link:

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