Nokyoung Xayasane
March 19, 2013

Teenage Girl Creates Biofuel in Her Bedroom Lab, Wins Prize for Being Awesome

The Intel Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most renowned high school science and math competition. This year’s winner was 17-year-old Sara Volz, who took home a $100,000 prize for her algae-powered biofuel.


Volz showed her awesomeness by creating algae cells with higher oil content. These cells are essential for economically feasible biofuel.

What makes the story even better is the location of Volz’s lab. She set up her biofuel creation station in her bedroom, of course.  Volz grew the algae underneath her loft bed and shared the same light cycles as her specimens.

She used artificial selection to target cells with higher oil content, and took home first prize for her efforts.

“The idea is, if you introduce this chemical, you kill everything with really low oil production,” said Volz. “What you are left with is a population of cells with very high oil production.”

Her work could become a real-life option for sustainable and renewable fuel. Wicked.

Volz has been accepted into MIT, and says the prize money will help her “cover a significant chunk of those expenses.” It’s likely we’ll see more awesomeness from Volz in the years to come.