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SLU-Madrid Honors Spanish High School Students for Research in Microbiology and Sensory Substitution Technology

Judges of SLU-Madrid's National Science and Technology Prize announced the winners of the seventh annual award.

Students from high schools in Madrid, Catalonia, Galicia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Castile and León submitted a total of 42 projects to the competition. Topics included engineering and technology, health sciences, chemistry, biology, earth sciences and computer science.

Based on the assessment criteria of originality, creativity, applicability and overall presentation, the judges panel selected the the following projects as this year's winners. Winners will present their projects at a ceremony in San Ignacio Hall at a future date.

Science and Technology Award

SLU-Madrid’s National Science and Technology Competition for High School Students recognizes young scholars who have demonstrated exceptional talent through science and technology research. The award targets those with an interest in pursuing higher education in the science and engineering fields. By recognizing talent and hard work, SLU-Madrid aims to promote creativity and the spirit of research among students in their final two years of secondary school.

First Prize (1000€): HandVision: desarrollo de un dispositivo de sustitución sensorial para invidentes

(HandVision: Development of a Sensory Substitution Device for the Blind)

Submitted by Clara Fuertes Novillo from IES Pintor Antonio López (Tres Cantos, Madrid), this project presents the development of a device to assist blind people with certain sensory functions, such as recognizing obstacles, colors and shapes. The student designed both the hardware and software for the device, and tested its experimental functionality.

Judges were impressed by the complexity of the techniques used and the thoroughness of the experiment, which was also exceptionally well-documented and organized.

Second Prize (500€): BBB Shuttles as a Novel Strategy to Tackle Alzheimer’s Disease  

Raquel Novel Ortega from the Colegio SIL (Barcelona, Catalonia) conducted a detailed study of the molecular hallmarks of Alzheimer ’s disease and carried out the synthesis of a peptide that has the potential to inhibit beta-amyloide protein aggregation and act as a new drug-delivery method across the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

The judges panel valued the complex experimental procedure, which included solid-phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to synthesize and purify the peptide, as well as the coupling of brain endothelial cell cultures with fluorescent microscopy and fluorometry to demonstrate transport across the BBB by the peptide.

Honorable Mentions

Due to the extraordinary quality of the projects submitted to the competition this year, the judges extended honorable mentions to the following eight finalists:

Among the 10 finalists were five projects (including the first prize winner) submitted by students who attend IES Pintor Antonio López in Tres Cantos (Madrid). Jesús Moreno García, mayor of Tres Cantos, organized a virtual ceremony to recognize these five students for their exceptional research projects.

Each of the students presented the basics of their research and spoke about their plans for continuing their education. The three faculty mentors from IES Pintor Antonio López who assisted with these projects, Raul Martín, Irene Tuset and Javier Guillén Fernñandez, also offered words of praise to the students. At the end of the ceremony, the Council Woman for Education in Tres Cantos, Marisa Peña, revealed the city’s plans to create a space to promote scientific research among students. Associate Dean of Sciences and Engineering Taieb Gasmi, Ph.D., expressed SLU-Madrid’s enthusiasm for the initiative and a desire to collaborate in the future.

“It was a true honor to award this year’s prizes to these exceptional students," said Francisco Prieto, Ph.D., program director for natural sciences and coordinator of the competition. "The quality of all of the projects submitted  was excellent. We extend our congratulations to all participants and their dedicated mentors.”