A four-year scholarship!
We offer up to $20,000 (up to $5000 per year for four years)
The scholarship is open to exceptionally Innovative and Creative High School Juniors, Seniors and College Freshmen who are:
Do You Think Outside The Box?
Apply for this scholarship if you are . . .
The Milton Fisher Scholarship for Innovation and Creativity is administered by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
These past winners were all students who showed unusual initiative and creativity in solving problems. The scholarship program welcomes applicants who demonstrate creativity in any field.
Elizabeth Dente, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey (Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ). Recognizing the often prohibitively high cost of many wound repair treatments, Elizabeth Dente set out to see whether she could come up with a cost-effective way of making skin wounds heal more quickly. When the purchasing department of her school accidentally ordered a different substance than the one she had originally requested, Elizabeth decided to experiment with the potential wound-healing properties of the synthetic compound that arrived. She combined Benzoin with a natural anti-oxidant, olive fruit extract, and developed microcapsules made of natural plant materials easily broken down by the skin as the delivery system. Neither this combination of substances nor this delivery system had been used for skin repair previously. Her experiment proved so successful at helping wounds heal that Elizabeth was invited to present her research at an international science symposium in Hiroshima, Japan; her research has also won recognition from the U.S. Air Force. She plans to study biomedical engineering at Columbia University.
Ryota Ishiuka, Cos Cob, Connecticut (Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT). A visit to a local waste treatment plant underlined for Ryoto Ishizuka how much land and electricity was used to process waste. Could there be a better way? Recognizing that there is never any shortage, around the world, of human waste; but there is always a shortage of sources of energy, Ryota decided to experiment on how to use waste water itself as a potential energy source. His research on microbial reactors taught him that although microbial reactors could generate hydrogen at high efficiencies, they required external artificial power and were thus rather unpractical. Ryota collected samples of waste water from the local treatment plant himself for his experiments. The prototype he created of an independent microbial fuel cell to drive a bioelectrochemically-assisted waste water treatment reactor was the first of its kind to be able to generate significant levels of hydrogen using waste as the only input source. It has the potential to be widely replicated in developing nations where stable electricity grids are not readily available. His research won the grand prize in the Connecticut Science Fair, a 3rd Award in the Energy Category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and a silver medal in the international Sustainable World Project Olympiad. He plans to study applied mathematics at Harvard University.
Moshin Jawed, Wilton, Connecticut (Wilton High School, Wilton, Connecticut). From the ninth grade on, Moshin Jawed had a passion for math that his classmates didn’t share: “They mentally withdrew from math class, plugging in numbers to hastily memorized equations and hoping for high grades,” Moshin wrote. “My friends especially struggled with trigonometry or ‘trig,’ a field notorious for its complicated equations that ‘must’ be memorized.” Where his classmates saw only endless memorization Moshin saw intriguing patterns and connections. “The more I encountered such connections, the more I shared them with my peers. They not only began to remember formulas, but also understood where they came from and how they functioned.” Moshin compiled his “shortcuts” into a new guide that reconceptualizes trigonometry: TRIGgering the Genius in You stresses pattern recognition rather than strict memorization, teaching students to recognize and build on fundamental patterns to achieve higher levels of comprehension. He plans to apply his interest in pattern-recognition at the crossroads of mathematics and medicine as a student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/Albany Medical College’s Seven-Year Accelerated Physician-Scientist program.
Angad Singh, Milton Georgia (Milton High School, Milton, Georgia). Angad Singh learned the heard way about the pain that intolerance and ignorance could cause. Ever since elementary school, he was teased and taunted about the turban he wore as a follower of the Sikh faith; but he was isolated in his hurt, unaware that many others were being victimized just as he was. The success of a documentary he made in 8th grade about his neighborhood had convinced Angad of the potential of documentary film to promote mutual understanding. In an atmosphere of increasingly violent post-9/11 attacks on Sikh children like himself in the U.S., Angad recognized the importance of documenting the stories of young people who were Sikh and American and sharing them with the world. He made a documentary called Roots and Wings to help Sikh youths across the U.S. gain acceptance in their communities, determined that the film “be about not having to give up one’s cultural roots in order to achieve one’s dreams and fly on one’s wings.” He also developed a three-day lesson plan built around the film to spark dialogue about diversity in schools. The beautiful and moving documentary he produced has been screened in hundreds of schools around the country, has been selected for broadcast on television in California, and has won awards at international film festivals. Angad hopes that studying political science and film at Columbia University will help him hone the skills he needs to use media as a tool to change the world.
Alec Urbach, Roslyn Heights, NY (Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, NY). Alex knew that millions of children in the developing world fail to get the kind of science, math and health education that they desperately need to address their society’s problems because they are illiterate, and that their attendance at school is severely hampered by health problems caused by lack of access to clean/safe water and healthcare supplies. An aspiring filmmaker and social entrepreneur, Alex decided to tackle these problems together: he developed an animated cartoon curriculum for teaching science, math and healthcare to elementary school children whose illiteracy has limited their exposure to these subjects as conventionally taught; he also created an organization, Giving from the Ground Up, to distribute both the curriculum and healthcare supplies and also to fund the building of wells for clean water so that children can remain healthy and stay in school. Alex’s cartoon-animated science and math curriculum is being used in Africa’s first Science Elementary Schools in two villages in Ghana, where, in partnership with Ghanaian teachers and clergy, Giving from the Ground Up has also built wells and delivered toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other healthcare supplies. Currently a high school junior, Alex hopes to expand this ambitious initiative to other parts of the developing world. He plans to study film and history in college.
Zizi Yu, Woodbridge, CT (Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge, CT). The guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics over the last decade emphasize avoiding food allergens in early childhood to avoid irritating young children’s sensitive digestive tracts. But Zizi, who had steeped herself in competing theories on the topic, suspected these guidelines and the conventional wisdom underpinning them were wrong and that the opposite was true: that “lack of exposure allergens and pathogens in the first few years of life could result in under-activization of the immune system and a subsequent lack of tolerance even for ordinary, innocuous substances.” Zizi tested her theory by surveying the diet and allergy history reported by parents of 258 children between the ages of 14 and 18. She found that “teenagers without food allergies had a much greater chance of being exposed early to food allergens than teenagers with food allergies.” Zizi, who hopes her research will contribute to a reevaluation of pediatricians’ guidelines to parents, was a finalist in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search, and first author of an article published in the peer-reviewed Internet Journal of Epidemiology. She plans to study at Yale University.
2012 HONORABLE MENTIONS
Rana Abdelhamid, Flushing, NY (Middlebury College). Through her work as a volunteer at a local domestic violence organization, and her travels in Egypt and Mexico, Rana “ learned that “violence and gender inequality” were “an international problem,” and that “abuse had no socio-economic or national or racial boundaries.” Rana, who is a black belt in karate, founded “Unbreakable Strength,” a women’s empowerment program designed to use dialogue and instruction in self-defense to create “a generation of strong and effective female leaders.” The program has helped at-risk young women in Queens, NY and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Rana is freshman majoring in political science at Middlebury College.
Martina Carrillo, Bronx, NY (La Guardia Community College). Martina knew first-hand the isolation, fear, and lack of information that made being an undocumented immigrant youth so difficult and challenging. After interning at The Door, a nonprofit offering resources to immigrant youth, Martina decided to create Atlas: Developing Immigrant Youth, a space in her own community “where undocumented immigrants can come together, speak about their situation without fear, and feel part of the community.” In addition to providing a safe space for sharing ideas, Atlas developed a website that provides current information about immigration issues and inspiring quotes. Martina is studying social science and humanities at LaGuardia Community College.
Hillary Dadio-Perone, Hamden, CT (Hamden High School, Hamden, CT). Sustainable food is Hillary’s passion. But how do you convey what it is and why it matters to the next generation? After honing her knowledge and awareness of the complexities of of the issues herself, Hillary developed an innovative class for seven- to nine-year-olds at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden, Ct. The class planted a “pizza ” garden,” learned how to dry and preserve food and make cheese, and used recycled materials to make farm animals and a play-sized barn—linked activities which helped them “develop their own understanding of sustainability.” Hillary will study agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Mary E. Kaufman, Southbury, CT (Pomperaug High School, Southbury CT). When Mary’s family decided to become foster parents of a six-month-old infant, they were told that she had some “minor skin problems.” When they met the baby, “it appeared as though her entire face was peeling off, piece by piece.” Physically abused by her birth parents, the baby also had a “tiny pink cast” on her arm that she used as “a personal face scratcher since eczema makes a person extremely itchy. No matter how many times we pulled her arms away, she simply couldn’t stop scratching herself with her cast and tiny fingernails.” Mary came up with a creative solution: she sewed long sleeves stitched together at the bottom, made of soft fabric, to all of the baby’s shirts. This let the child move freely without allowing the cast or her fingernails to scratch her. Within a week her face improved—as did her state of mind and that of her new family. Mary will study marine biology and psychology at the University of Miami.
Shanawaj Khair, Flushing, NY (John Bowne High School, Flushing, NY). Shanawaj had long been intrigued by research on the roots of obesity. Finding that there were limited opportunities to pursue in-depth research on this topic in his school, he immersed himself in existing scholarship on links between gut bacteria and obesity, designed an experimental research proposal, persuaded professor in a local college to mentor him, and wrote letters to biotech companies that persuaded them to donate chemical reagents, lab mice and other materials he needed to conduct his experiments. In the end, his innovative study of the correlation between body mass index and the frequency of certain gut bacteria in mice won first prize in microbiology in the New York City Science and Engineering Fair and was selected as one of 15 projects to represent New York City at the Intel International Science and Engineering fair. Shanawaj will study biology at Stony Brook University.
Moussaffa Khan, Astoria, NY (Health Professions High School, New York City. An internship with the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence helped make Moussaffa aware of the importance of shelters for abused women, and a trip with fellow interns to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan underlined the fact that there was nowhere that women in these countries could go to seek refuge from abusers—a particulary worrisome fact given the high rate of domestic violence in the region. With others on her team, Moussaffa applied for and received funding from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women to create compounds in Bangladesh and Pakistan that would be safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse. Doctors Without Borders agreed to assist with supplies and medical personnel. The first compound was built outside of Dhaka. Moussaffa also started a club at her high school to support these efforts. She will be studying pharmacy or biochemistry at Long Island University.
Ayisha McHugh, Brooklyn, NY (Poly Prep, Brooklyn, NY). When Ayisha arrived at Poly Prep she was struck by the lack of any forum in which students could discuss issues of diversity in sustained and constructive ways. She addressed this problem by founding L.E.A.D. – “Listen. Educate. Appreciate Diversity,” “a forum for students to be themselves and learn from others.” Founded on the premise that “exposure, interactions, and the opportunity to remove oneself from one’s comfort zone” is a recipe for intellectual growth and strengthening character, L.E.A.D. played a very positive role in the school. Ayisha plans to attend Colgate University.
Melissa Seto, Brooklyn, NY (Stuyvesant High School, NY). Melissa Seto was troubled by the urban air pollution she encountered on a daily basis in New York and that she witnessed during a trip to China. She wondered whether “green roofs” –roofs with vegetation planted on top—could make a difference. She decided to focus her research on whether green roofs could reduce two kinds of the microscopic particles in the air that come from construction sites or power plants that are a source of respiratory or cardiovascular disease in people who inhale them. The innovative experiment and the cost-benefit analysis she conducted suggested that installing green roofs could significantly reduce concentrations of at least two varieties of particulate matter in New York City. She hopes her research will prompt the city to support the construction of many more green roofs. Melissa plans to study environmental science at Columbia University.
Jacob Wolf-Sorokin, Brookline, MA (Brookline High School, Brookline, MA). Jacob was upset by state budget cuts that threatened to cut the jobs of all the social workers at his suburban high school. The same budget cuts would cut half of the youth summer jobs in Boston. Although the cuts had an impact across the state, young people in the suburbs and the city had never seen their fates as linked until Jacob and some fellow teenagers founded an organization to unite urban and suburban youth in fighting against these cuts together. The organization he helped found, YMORE—Youth of Massachusetts Organizing for a Reformed Economy—brought these two historically-disconnected groups of teens together to lobby the legislature effectively, restoring significant youth job funding in Boston, and preserving four social workers’ jobs in Brookline during a tight budget year. It continues to unite urban and suburban youth to tackle collaboratively problems facing the state, such as air quality. Jacob plans to major in environmental studies or political science at Yale University.
Grace Young, New York, NY (Trinity School, New York). Grace Young wanted to figure out how to help some of the poorest children on the planet—children in rural China—realize their dreams. Despite the fact that one-sixth of the world’s population lives in rural China, Grace found that there was no organizations devoted to helping children there get an education. Grace founded such an organization herself in her school: Under the Same Sky, whose mission was to raise funds for the tuition, board, books and supply fees for children in rural China. The first year, they raised funds to send 4 children to school in Yunnan; the second year ten; this past year they raised funds to send 10 children to school in Yunnan and 5 in Shanxi. The organization has become the most active service group in her school. Currently a high school junior, Grace plans to major in Molecular and Cell Biology and minor in literature before entering an MD/PhD program.