Meda Surdokaitė’s research won first place in the European Union Young Scientists Competition in the Netherlands. Meda also received a special award – an invitation to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. This year, the young scientist began her studies in applied chemistry at Kaunas University of Technology. Meda is thrilled not only with the award, but also that her discovery is already being applied in research.
Surdokaitė participated in the competition with his research in chemistry “Optimization of the synthesis of the fluorescent dye Nile Red”. The objective of the work is to synthesize an organic dye to detect microplastics and stain cells without using toxic solvents. The optimized production methods of the young scientist allow her to avoid the use of toxic materials used until now, thus guaranteeing accessibility, applicability and safer handling.
“Through organic chemistry, we can protect the oceans from microplastics, treat serious diseases and create greener everyday life. My optimized synthetic dye doesn’t need to be put on the shelf – thanks to collaborations with other scientists it is already being used successfully in a wide range of research. During the contest, I learned that a biotech company had successfully used my optimized 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 attracted young scientists from 33 countries – not only from Europe but also from the United States, 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 competition of the European Young Scientists Competition, organized by the Lithuanian Center for Informal Education of School Children and supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports.