Friday, March 15, 2013

Meghan Shea: Intel Finalist Designs a Moringa Seed Water Filter

Meghan Shea, 18, from West Chester, Penn., holds up a water filter 
that uses seeds from Moringa oleifera tree that releases a protein that 
clumps together pollutants, making it easier for charcoal and fabric to capture.  
The Intel Science Search competition is the Ã¼ber high school science fair which is often a platform for future Macarthurs and Nobel prize winners.  Being on of the 40 finalists is a major achievement, and it's great to see so many girls coming up in these ranks.
Meghan Shea, from West Chester, PA, is a finalist who caught my friend's eye and passed along her project - water purification.  It's exciting she devoted her research to humanitarian tech, and intriguing that she could achieve a breakthrough right in her home lab without traveling to the tropics. 
Meghan Marjorie Shea, 18, of West Chester, developed a water filtration method using crushed seeds of the Moringa oleifera plant for her environmental science Intel Science Talent Search project. Previous researchers had developed relatively complicated ways to use these seeds to purify water; Meghan found that a filter containing powdered, non-shelled seeds was more cost effective, reducing E. coli bacteria in the water by as much as 99 percent. More research is required to improve and further test the filter's effectiveness and to establish how often they should be changed, but Meghan hopes that the Moringa tree, which is widely grown in tropical and subtropical areas for food, will become a source of both income and clean household water in impoverished areas. Meghan attends Unionville High School in Kennett Square, where she is co-editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper and captain of the school's drumline. Meghan also helps run after-school programs for local elementary school children, introducing them to science concepts and helping them with their homework. Meghan is the daughter of Peter and Kathleen Shea and hopes to pursue a career "bettering the lives of others" in environmental science or biology.
Her project has much promise.  I love her for that, and also that her fingernails match the adhesive on her prototype water filter bottle.

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