Meda Surdokaitė, the winner of the 2022 EU Young Scientist Competition, secured third place in the chemistry grand prize at Regeneron ISEF (Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair), one of the world’s largest science competitions, held in Dallas, USA. Nearly 70 projects competed in this category.
Surdokaitė, who was nominated by the European Commission, represented not only Lithuania but also the European Union with her research project “Optimisation of the synthesis of the fluorescent dye ‘Nile Red’”. The aim of the work is to synthesise an organic dye for the detection of microplastics and staining of cells without the use of toxic solvents. The young scientist’s optimised production methods, which have already been put into practice, have made it possible to avoid the use of toxic substances used until now, thus ensuring accessibility, applicability, and safer handling.
“Taking part in such a competition is a highly motivating, inspiring, and educational experience. Although the environment was very competitive, I also experienced the non-competitive part of Regeneron ISEF – I interacted with young researchers from all over the world, discovered many commonalities, shared goals, and met and got to know many wonderful people. During the competition, a student from the United States presented a project using my optimised synthesis dye, Nile Red, to detect nanoplastic particles in water. So it was a very important experience for me personally – it’s incredible to see that my work is already helping someone!” – Surdokaitė, a student at Kaunas University of Technology, shared her impressions.
“This year’s Regeneron ISEF was held for the 82nd time. Almost 2000 young scientists from all over the world took part. It is one of the largest and most competitive science competitions for young people, aiming to empower young individuals interested in innovation, scientific discovery, and creating a better future. The competition provides a space for new ideas and challenges conventional thinking, fostering a culture of idea sharing, critical thinking, and continuous improvement. The competition brings together future leaders in STEM to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today.”