Meda Surdokaitė’s research won first place in the European Union Young Scientists Competition in the Netherlands. Meda was also awarded a special prize – an invitation to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. This year, the young scientist started her studies in applied chemistry at Kaunas University of Technology. Meda is delighted not only with the award, but also with the fact that her discovery is already being applied in research.
Surdokaitė participated in the competition with her chemistry research ‘Optimising the synthesis of the fluorescent dye Nile Red’. The aim of the work is to synthesise an organic dye for detecting microplastics and staining cells without the use of a toxic solvent. The young scientist’s optimised production methods allow her to avoid the use of toxic materials used so far, thus ensuring accessibility, applicability and safer handling.
‘Through organic chemistry, we can protect the oceans from microplastics, treat serious diseases and create a greener daily life. My optimised synthesis dye doesn’t need to be put on a shelf – thanks to collaborations with other scientists, it is already being successfully used in a wide range of research. During the competition, I received news that a biotech company had successfully used my optimised fusion product to stain brain cells that form myelin. Myelin staining allows us to study the processes involved in diseases such as sclerosis and schizophrenia,’ says the young scientist about the practical application of the dye.
This year, the prestigious competition for young people aged 14 to 20 years old attracted young scientists from 33 countries – not only from Europe but also from the USA, Canada, Israel and other countries. Nearly 90 research papers were presented in the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, physics, and social sciences.
Meda’s project was selected as the best in the national round of the European Union Young Scientists Competition, organised by the Lithuanian Centre for Informal Education for Schoolchildren and supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.