Arizona High School Junior Wins Major Award In Global Science And Engineering Fair

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 8:09am

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Ella Wang
Ella Wang
Ella Wang, a junior from BASIS Charter School in Chandler, has won this year’s $5,000 First Award in the ISEF Robotics and Intelligent Machines category.

A high school junior in Chandler has earned a top award in the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest high school science competition.

Ella Wang of BASIS Charter School received the $5,000 top prize in the Robotics and Intelligent Machines category for her design, HemaVision.

The $7.00, 3D-printed cellphone attachment and web app combination captures and sharpens blood smear images, detects abnormal blood cells and identifies sickle cell disease with 98% accuracy.

The app combines computer vision techniques and a deep learning model. When Wang couldn't find a blood cell database big enough or detailed enough to teach the model, she assembled her own. 

"I actually created a custom data space of 10,500 blood cell images for sickle cell disease identification. In the future, one of my goals is to expand HemaVision by expanding the range of diseases that it can be applied to. The hardest part is just collecting the data and organizing it and sorting it and labeling it, which was also one of the more challenging parts in my project," said Wang.

Wang was inspired by a pre-COVID visit to India, where she saw the expense and backlogs involved with current detection technologies. She wanted her design to provide a less burdensome alternative. 

The 3D-printed HemaVision cellphone
Ella Wang
The 3D-printed HemaVision cellphone attachment costs $7.17.

"It's significantly cheaper and faster and more accessible than current manual disease screening methods. So it expands point-of-care applications for disease diagnostics to reduce mortality and morbidity, especially in resource-limited settings." she said.

The Society for Science has held ISEF for more than 70 years. The program seeks to celebrate bright young minds and encourage young people to pursue STEM careers and work to improve the world. It entails millions of students competing through a global network of local, regional and national science fairs, with finalists selected each spring.

This year, the competition awarded over $5 million in prizes to more than 1,800 young scientists from 49 states and 64 countries.

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical company Regeneron became the title sponsor of ISEF in 2019, after Intel ended its sponsorship.

The HemaVision app
Ella Wang
The HemaVision app captures and enhances blood smear images, detects abnormal blood cells and identifies sickle cell disease with 98% accuracy.

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