Mikaela Preston is a 17 year old student from Markham, Ontario. She has always been passionate about discovering the universe and protecting the Earth we live on, and this passion drives her goals and aspirations in life. A love of science has guided Mikaela to take part in many STEM related activities, most notably the Canada Wide Science Fair. Though as part of her elementary schooling, she had been doing science fair projects since Grade 3, she discovered the York Region Science and Technology Fair in Grade 8, and from that moment, her life changed immensely. She took her project on species interaction in algal biofuel systems to the CWSF in 2010, winning the Platinum Award for best junior project. The next year, she extended her research into population dynamics in algal systems and increasing the stability of a system during temperature stressors. With this research she won her second Platinum Award for best intermediate project. In Mikaela’s third year of attending the CWSF, she continued researching in the areas of renewable fuel, in which her interest had solidified over the past two years, and brought a project on carbon course metabolism in biological hydrogen fuel production systems to the fair and won a Gold Medal. This paper has been published in the Canadian Young Scientist Journal. After taking a year off science fairs, Mikaela brought her 2014 research on improving the waste-to-ethanol fuel conversion process to the CWSF, earning her a Gold medal, and three other special awards. She is honoured to have received these awards and is excited to be using some of the prize money to pay for her 6-week European backpacking trip she is going on this summer. However, what are most cherished to Mikaela from her time at the CWSFs are the friendships she has made. She enjoys being part of a community where each individual wants to change the world for the better and has the drive and inspiration to do so. “The people I have met and the memories I have shared at the Canada Wide Science Fair give me hope for the future of our society and time and time again inspire me to look for ways to make the world a better place” Mikaela says.
Next year, Mikaela will continue to strengthen her goal to help make sustainability a reality by attending the University of Pennsylvania where she will be part of the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, a dual degree science and engineering program focused on sustainable energy research. Her desire to help create a world where we can live symbiotically with the rest of the environment has only grown over the years. She hopes that she can make a difference in others’ lives by encouraging an interest in STEM, just as many role models in her life have done for her. “We live in a truly beautiful and awe-inspiring universe; there is nothing more motivating for me than to simply look outside and appreciate the wonder” she says.
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