The Enduring Power of Endowment
An update on the George Olah Fellowship, which continues to support innovative, student-led research in the fields of science and engineering.
Highlighted in the 2021 issue of the Report of Giving, the George Olah Fellowship for Creativity in Science and Engineering has since been awarded to several accomplished Poly scholars. Named in honor of the distinguished chemist, Nobel Prize Laureate, and educator, George Olah, the fellowship seeks to encourage and nurture the inventive spirit of young scientists and engineers. Established by Dr. Ron and Cindy Olah P ’14, ’19 in tribute to Ron's late father, the fellowship provides Upper School students at Poly the opportunity to conduct research that extends beyond the confines of the high school curriculum. This endeavor is exemplary of the Olah family's commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity and trailblazing exploration among the future leaders of science and engineering. Through this award, students are granted the financial support needed to propel their research projects into uncharted territory, enabling them to unravel complex questions and contribute meaningfully to their respective fields. Since 2022, the fellowship has been instrumental in supporting the work of four exceptional recipients: Sabrina Zhang ’23, Gabriel C. ’25, Akira B. ’25, and Luciana P. ’25. Their achievements serve as an inspiration to our entire school community, reminding us of the potential for positive change when curiosity, dedication, and creativity intersect.
Sabrina Zhang ’23
Awarded the fellowship in 2022, recent Poly graduate Sabrina’s cutting-edge work has garnered global recognition and acclaim. Sabrina is the co-founder of AgriVision, a company dedicated to reducing global food waste and increasing crop yields through early disease prevention. AgriVision employs hyperspectral image processing, a technology that reveals complex details within plants, allowing for early diagnosis of diseases and infections. By detecting issues before they become visible to the naked eye, AgriVision has the potential to revolutionize crop management, prevent the spread of infections, and enhance food security on a global scale. Sabrina's vision for the future of agriculture includes the integration of autonomous systems accessible to farmers through simple mobile applications. In 2023, Sabrina’s commitment to environmental sustainability and innovation led her to be named a winner of the Earth Prize, a global competition recognizing the efforts of young minds in advancing environmental solutions, for which she earned a $25,000 prize. Sabrina's contributions have not only advanced scientific knowledge but have also exemplified Poly’s spirit of inquiry and innovation.
Gabriel C. ’25
The research of 2023 recipient Gabriel delves into the captivating realm of quantum computing, which ignited his curiosity as soon he was introduced to this groundbreaking technology. Inspired by the visionary scientist Dr. Richard Feynman, Gabriel is working to contribute to the advancement of quantum computing by focusing on one of its fundamental components—the ion trap. His exploration of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the foundation of modern computer chip fabrication, showcases his comprehensive approach to understanding the intricacies of this field. By studying processes such as sputtering, photolithography, and etching, Gabriel is not only advancing his own knowledge but also contributing to the broader scientific community's understanding of cutting-edge technologies. Gabriel's aspiration to explore the nuances of quantum computing by creating an ion trap underscores his commitment to harnessing the potential of quantum mechanics for computational breakthroughs. We celebrate his accomplishments and eagerly anticipate the insightful contributions he will make to the exciting world of quantum computing.
Luciana P. ’25 and Akira B. ’25
Working together, 2023 Olah Fellows Akira and Luciana have embarked on an in-depth research project centered around the investigation of microplastics' composition and their potential impact on the human body. Akira and Luciana became aware of this critical environmental issue during an enlightening field trip through Poly’s Outdoor Education program, where they encountered the pervasive presence of microplastics in various everyday products and ecosystems. This exposure sparked their interest, driving them to delve deeper into the subject and seek guidance from leading researchers in the discipline, encounters that provided valuable insights into plastic composition and alternatives to microplastic usage. Drawing on insights from experts like Chase Brewster from the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, Dr. Muchun Liu from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Maxwell J. Robb from the California Institute of Technology, Akira and Luciana have developed a robust research procedure that involves various scientific methodologies, including melting point measurements, crystallization analysis, and spectroscopy. If you would like to learn more about Akira and Luciana’s project, they have created a comprehensive website to document their process, share their findings, and provide educational resources on microplastics and plastic waste. We look forward to witnessing the outcomes of their ambitious efforts and the potential ramifications of their work in the field of microplastic research.