The Collins-Miller Research Project was conducted from 2014-2017 at Ohio State University’s McPherson Laboratories by Madeleine “Mac” Gagné under the supervision of Angela Miller. The findings of her results were presented to the Deputy Secretary to the Navy’s Department of Energy Joseph Bryant in April of 2016. Gagné submitted the findings of her research in 2017 as her Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in Higher Level Biology. The paper is not formally published, and the results of the study were made public online below on 06/05/22. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding these findings, please feel free to contact Mac Gagné through CMP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us introduce you to Emma Mogus- winner of the Ontario Science Center Innovation Award! That is…unless you happened to see her first on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon! From helping children receive books all around the world with her incredible no-for-profit to helping innovate new ways for ALS patients to communicate with the world, Emma is an incredible girl who you simply must get to know. CMP’s Madeleine Gagne talked to Emma about all her incredible work:
Okay, first things first, we’ve gotta know- what is Jimmy Fallon like in real life?
“He is really cool in real life! I met him during the show’s rehearsals! I just walked up to him and just said hi- he is so bubbly and kind!”
Were you nervous to be on television? If so, do you have any tips on how to calm the jitters?
“I was nervous during the time leading up to it, but after a rehearsal and talking with the staff it became mostly just excitement! Everyone was there to help make me feel relaxed and comfortable. I would recommend to anyone feeling nervous to just remember you know your project better than anyone else- be confident in the work you’ve done!”
A bit more on the side of your profession-, where did you come up with the idea for the TiC? Was there a specific inspiration?
“I had a family friend in high school who had ALS. Through this, I began to learn more about patient’s struggles with communicating verbally. There is a lot of research that already exists regarding this work, but most options for patients are incredibly expensive and have many errors, like involuntary movements of the machines. I was learning science and engineering in school during this time, and thought it would be cool to apply the work I learned in class to this problem. I learned a lot online about software design and development. My family is very sports motivated (i’ve done competitive figure skating, tae kwon do, hockey, and soccer before!), so the idea of using a mouth/tongue guard as a way of communicating came kind of naturally.”
What did it feel like winning the Ontario Science Center’s Innovation Award?
“It was a huge honor! After developing the TiC, I entered it into science fairs in the area. These fairs gave me the opportunity to learn about the big-name past innovators. After winning the fair, these people have been of great support- they even helped connect me to other media for exposure to get the word out about my product! I even had the opportunity to create a giant prototype of the invention to help kids learn about how it works!”
But these amazing accomplishments aren’t even all that you do! Can you tell us more about your Books with no Bounds project?
“Books with no Bounds is a not-for-profit that I founded with my older sister Julia in grade 8. We learned about indigenous kids in Canada who had experiences minimal access to books throughout their entire life. A lot of these communities are isolated, but we decided to send old books to them so they had access to education. We have sent over 250 thousand books to others all around the world, in other places too such as Ghana. Pakistan, and India. I especially like including books that focus on STEM education and programming! We also send in school supplies and computers- helping others like this has always been a cause near and dear to my heart. I love getting feedback from the communities too, such as what books are needed and how complex the reading material should be. It is so amazing to connect with communities like these- there are so many friendships to be made! We get letters and art that many of the kids have done, and have even visited some of the communities too!”
As with any project, you’ve probably had some good times and bad. What advice would you have for anyone struggling to get their work off the ground?
“I have certainly created more than a couple of prototypes for TiC- some would stop working and I would have to find out why. Since nothing is ever perfect the first time, there will be obstacles to overcome, especially when you are learning. Of course, that is easier said than done and failure will occur. But that is the beauty of innovation- there is never really a final product- there is plenty of room for improvement. You can learn from failure and have fun with your mistakes!”
What motivates you as a scientist, and what do you love about what you do?
“Originally, when I was in high school, I was kind of on the fence deciding whether or not to go into global relations or the science. However, I soon figured out that I can use things like mathematics and engineering, but also help people through those disciplines. Technology allows us to create the world we want to live in, and there are always so many exciting things happening. Like, right now, for example: i’m getting to learn all about solar cells at university! Science has a place for everything, and there is always so much room for creative thinkers in STEM fields.”
With such a busy schedule, what do you do to relax or balance things out?
“I actually love to play piano, though no one knows a lot about that! I love to spend time with my friends and family- I love being around them- they are my biggest supporters! On top of working hard in STEM, you have to remind yourself to have good mental and physical health too!”
Do you have any advice for young girls who look up to you about what they can do to become successful scientists?
“For any girl pursuing a STEM-related field- hats off to them! It is very important that we have more girls pursuing these positions! It is so so important to encourage girls to do their best. Find what you’re passionate about, seek out a problem you see in the world, and find how to solve that problem based on what you love! Even it you aren’t familiar with the bit of science you have an interest in, if you have the drive, you will ultimately be able to figure out how to use these tools- don’t stress too much about feeling like you don’t have the skill set initially- focus on falling in love with science and engineering!”
Thanks so much to the amazing Emma Mogus for letting us interview her on all the incredible things she has done!
Meet the amazing Mita Dasog- an assistant professor of chemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia! From recently being named one of the top 150 Canadian Women in STEM to talking with local elementary school girls about what it means to be a scientist, Dr. Dasog is dedicated to her profession, and quite passionate about teaching girls all around the world that they too can become the innovators and scholars of the future. CMP’s Madeleine Gagne’ had the honor of asking Dasog a few questions on behalf of the New-Age Girls Club:
First off, we would love to say thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today! After hearing about your many awards, we can tell you’re an amazing woman who is quite busy studying amazing subjects. But first off, regarding your most recent achievement, how does it feel to be listed as one of the top 150 Canadian Women in STEM?
“It’s a great honor to be listed among so many prominent women. I feel humbled and excited. It has definitely motivated me to continue to interact with young girls and encourage them to make contributions to the STEM fields.”
So we’ve heard right now you are working on a form of artificial photosynthesis that could help create a fuel free of carbon emissions- do you think you could tell us a little bit more about your research and how that works?
“Artificial photosynthesis is a process that allows conversion of sunlight directly into chemical energy, the densest form after nuclear energy. The direct production of fuels using sunlight could provide a technological solution to challenges that accompany large-scale integration of intermittent energy sources, such as solar, into electrical grids. When sunlight is available, artificial photosynthetic systems can produce a storable fuel such as hydrogen from water that would then be available for subsequent on-demand combustion or for use as a feedstock for a fuel cell. Burning hydrogen does not emit any CO2 and thus helps reduce our carbon emissions. Artificial photosynthesis could also provide a scalable technology for the carbon-neutral production of fuels for global transportation (ships, aircraft, heavy-duty trucks) that require a high energy-density fuel for viable operation.”
It sounds like you have had some pretty amazing mentors in your life like your article mentioned: Jillian Buriak, Juli Gibbs, and even your High School biology teacher! Do you have any advice for girls trying to find female mentors who are involved with the STEM scene?
“Talented women are everywhere. One doesn’t have to be adorned with awards and accolades to be a good mentor. Look around into your immediate community. Reach out to teachers, professors, teaching assistants, family members, or even neighbors who are passionate about what they do, who inspire you, and are willing to mentor you. Do not limit yourself to one person. Even if you don’t have direct access to the person you admire, study their traits and learn what makes them successful and use that to build on your own strength and talents.”
We’ve also heard you are a prominent advocate for women in STEM! What would be the most important thing for young girls looking at going into the sciences to know?
“First of all, believe in yourself! Girls and women belong in STEM fields and are able to contribute to these fields effectively. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. Sometimes it will be challenging but be resilient and push through hard times. Surround yourself with positive and good people. To be a good scientist, always be curious and never stop learning. Progress in science is often incremental and requires a lot of trial and error. Don’t be disheartened by the failures.”
Finally, and most importantly, why do you love what you do?
“I have always loved mysteries and solving them, be it a book or real-life science. I love studying nature and its design principles and how we can apply that to make better performing devices in our everyday life. My research is very inter-disciplinary. I enjoy that I get to work in the fields of chemistry, physics, and engineering. Lastly, the greatest part of my job is that I get to interact and mentor amazing students everyday.”
Special thanks to Dr. Dasog for letting us interview her. Her insight into the world of being a women in STEM is much appreciated!
Meet Kate McKinney- the newest member to The Collins-Miller Project New-Age Girls Editorial Squad! Lover of everything from cooking to flying, Kate is an aspiring neuroscientist/microbiologist, and is currently well known for her work on the neurodegeneration of microscopic worms, providing insight into potential treatments for Alzheimer’s. From her own non-profit The Kentucky STAR Center to CMP, we’re glad to have her on our team! Read on via the link above!
Meet acclaimed cartoonist Tessa McEvoy, the mastermind behind the twitter-popular Space Cadet Wannabe comic strip! From professional illustrator to entrepreneur extraordinaire, Tessa is on a mission to make the world a better place by inspiring others through her science-themes art work! Read up on this exclusive interview we had with the artist herself, as she discusses the true story behind Space Cadet Wannabe!
Ever met a programmer willing to tackle not just one but two major world problems…before high school?!? Meet Baheen Huzan, a New-Jersey Girl Scout and second place winner of the CS Girls national computer science competition! From advice to others with similar pursuits to details about how Baheen took home the prestigious second place, our article hopes to introduce you to one of comp sci’s youngest and most talented individuals. With a passion for all things code and a voice willing to speak out for girls in science all around the world, Check out Baheen’s article by clicking the link above!
Meet Kimberly Clavin- engineer and STEM educator extraordinaire! From business to the classroom, Team Clavin’s got your back! Coming from Pillar Technology, Kimberly provides insight into the creative sides of engineering and business. Never without a smile, Clavin is always ready to take on the world- and wants to let you know just how she does it! Read on to learn more about Kimberly’s success, and advice she has to others who want to make the world a better place.
Join Sahda Haroon on her quest to inspire a new generation of astronauts all around the world! Currently living in The United Arab Emirates, Sahda has wanted to become an astronaut since childhood. Encouraged by her father to shoot for the stars, Sahda has become a large part of The United Arab Emirates Space Program. Meeting individuals like MR. Ibrahim Al Qasim and Chris Hadfield, Sahda is more than ready to take on the red planet, no matter how hard. Read on to learn more about her story!
Chances are, you’ve probably stumbled upon Lucy Howe’s popular space Instagram account when gazing at photos of the heavens. A prominent part of today’s teen-astronaut movement, Lucy’s Instagram clocks 43.6k followers! Today, meet the girl behind it all, and hear more about her passion for the beauty of space so prominently featured online! Writing all the way from Australia, Lucy gives New-Age Girls the scoop. Read more about Lucy via the link above!
Want to earn money for YOUR research projects? Check out our New-Age Girls International Scholarship/Research Grant to learn more!
The Ultimate New-Age Girl Brain Teaser
Beware! Answer the following brain teaser at your own risk! Extreme confusion may follow…unless your up to the challenge!
Submit the answer to the brainteaser below for a chance to win a free Collins-Miller Project New-Age Girl’s Coffee Mug! The first one to answer correctly wins! Submit your answers to collinsmillerproject.com.
Brain-Teaser: (Level: Medium) Category: Traditional-Twist:
A lift is on the ground floor. There are 4 people in the lift including me.
When the lift reaches 1st floor, 1 person gets out 3 people get in.
The lift goes up to the second floor, 2 people get out 6 people get in.
It then goes up to the next floor up, no-one gets out but 12 people get in. Halfway up to the next floor up the lift cable snaps, it crashes to the floor. Everyone dies in the lift. How did I survive?
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Join our online New-Age Girls Campaign by tagging a photo online using the hashtag #NewAgeGirls. For Every Quarter Newsletter, we will post the awesome pictures taken!
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Welcome to 2017! Thanks for stopping by collinsmillerproject.com today to check out new Newsletter! From astronauts to primate specialists, we are kicking off the new year by sharing the amazing stories of some incredibly inspiring individuals! Here at The Collins-Miller Project, we can’t wait to see what incredible adventures 2017 holds for us and our readers worldwide!
It might sound like a bit of a cliché, but this New Year is bringing a new look to CMP! While in the past our New-Age Girls newsletter has been quarter annual, we have decided to make our major posts semi-annual. However, this is so we can put more feature stories about current events and politics on your feed more often! After all, what’s an exciting new year without some exciting new cover stories?
We’d also like to welcome Baheen Huzan and Kate McKinney as full-time editors! Contributing to the stories of Hannah Herbst and Gradie Muntu respectively, these gals are already on the move as incredible members of our staff!
Finally, we would also like to make note of the political situation at hand here in the US. To those who it might apply, The Collins-Miller Project will continue to fight for the application of alternative algae biodiesels to combat climate change despite the current change of power. In addition, we would like to make it known that The New-Age Girls Club (as mentioned on our message board) “would like to stress that no members of our group will be discriminated against in any way shape or form, particularly pertaining to active issues such as race, political beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, mental health, financial situation, or any kind of disability (to name a few). If you feel you need help in any kind of situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as you find it safe to do so. We will do the absolute best to help you to the fullest extent of our ability.” Just remember- we are here for YOU.
Thank you all so much once again for your incredible support! We can’t wait to continue diving head first into a new year of amazing girls, great news, and inspiring stories! Stay tuned- 2017 is going to be great here at CMP!
All the best,
Maddie, Kate, & Baheen
Article By: Madeleine Gagne’
@Mammals_Suck- this is the twitter handle that Dr. Katie Hinde of Arizona State University is more commonly known for on the internet. Yet, this clever play on her acclaimed studies investigating early mammalian nutrition and its relation to breast milk isn’t the only great thing about Hinde- it’s simply the tip of this intriguing iceberg.
Starting off at The University of Washington, Katie Hinde received a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology, and later went on to get a PhD in evolutionary anthropology at The University of California in Los Angeles. Previously, an assistant professor at Harvard University, Hinde is now an Associate Professor at Arizona State. Studying how early life shapes the development of juvenile mammals, Hinde specializes in studying the medicine and hormones involved with breast milk, and the growth and behavior that results. Thus, she studies how variations in breast milk can influence later development. Hinde primarily works with primates, and assisted at the Primate National Research Center at Davis University for her post-doctoral studies. She remains a leading expert when it comes to just how “mammals suck”!
When asked why she is passionate about her work, Hinde replies: “I’m really interested in these questions as a theoretical biologist. I love it not just because the topic is fascinating and want to learn more about it, but also because this field can really help us understand the complexities of breast milk in so many ways and how it applies to so many fields”. Ever the fan of biology and social science, Hinde loves just how much she can truly study. “Breast milk can help us improve neonatal solutions in human infants. It can help inform legislatures on public policy- it even overlaps with feminism, where I can learn how to inform a woman about all the incredible things that she can do. I just love the overlap”. Hinde stresses how important studies in breast milk can be on a daily basis, persuading others to take into consideration this major factor that has been left out in many studies involving growth and development. From healthcare decisions to women’s rights, information regarding her studies can provide valuable insights on our understanding of human behavior and biology. “Anything you know about humans you can study through an anthropological lens” Katie mentions. “You can bring this nuanced perspective of humans wherever you go- I just love that!”
While scientist by day, Katie Hinde is also the incredibly successful blogger behind March Mammal Madness- a blog that hosts theoretical battles between some of nature’s most ferocious creations every March. From wolves on Wheaties boxes to heated internet debates, March Mammal Madness has been covered by the likes of NPR, Discovery News, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. The best part? They are ramping up for another year of madness this coming March, and you can participate! In mid-February, head on over to http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/2016/02/mammal-march-madness-2016.html for your fill of brackets and high stakes competition- mammal style! You can also check out the blog’s Wikipedia page to learn more about past results you might have missed. (link into text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammal_March_Madness )
During our interview, we made sure to ask Katie about her favorite travel story. Always one to be moving around, we here at CMP just had to figure out the best trip Hinde could remember. After a sip of coffee, she opened up to us about a specific trip she went on as a high school student. “I came from a family below the poverty line, so at age 15 I started at a community college. Washington State would later pay tuition for me to attend during the last two years of high school- I looked at this as a way to get the first two years of college payed for.” Katie also continued to describe that her aunt, who worked for the state department of NATO in Brussels, allowed Hinde to stay with her. During that summer, Katie traveled all around Europe, having saved up enough money herself by working at an elderly care facility. Thus, she was only 16 years old when she traveled to places like France, Holland, and Belgium. “Travel is kindness to my soul,” Hinde mentions, with a smile.
With March Mammal Madness and world-class anthropological studies, Katie Hinde is one of a kind! Dedicated to both understanding the world around her and serving humanity through public policy, Katie strives to make the world a better place at every turn. So do all mammals really suck? Certainly not this one- we think Katie Hinde is one heck of a gal!
You can check out Katie’s talk at Harvard University about her work, and stay up to date with her adventures on twitter at @Mammals_Suck!
Article by: Baheen Huzan
From Boca Raton, Florida, Hannah Herbst is not your average sophomore in high school. Everything ordinary stops right about there. Besides this, she is an acclaimed inventor and scientist, having won almost a dozen different awards, she has also met with President Obama, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mythbuster’s Adam Savage, Maya Ajmera and has been recognized by other many other renowned organizations. On top of all this, she also happens to be dually enrolled at Florida Atlantic University, pursuing her undergraduate degree in computer engineering.
That’s where it all started. In fact, according to Hannah, in seventh grade, “Her parents put [her] into [a] summer engineering and technology camp at Florida Atlantic University… where [she] was the only girl on the program… [She] learned… how to innovate and [she] created robots.” Since then, her passion has blossomed into her remarkable projects and encouraged her participation in numerous competitions in which she achieved notable success.
She has participated in the Palm Beach Regional Science and Engineering Fair in grades 7, 8 and 9. In seventh grade, she placed third, in eighth grade, she placed first, and in ninth grade, she placed first and ‘best of show’ in the high school division. Here, she was honored by NOAA, Florida Power and Light, the Society of Women Engineers, the Office of Naval Research, Junior Achievement, and the American Meteorological Society.
Hannah also has also competed in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair for two years. In eighth grade, she placed first and ‘best of show’ for the middle school division. Hannah was nominated by the Palm Beach Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair to apply for Broadcom MASTERS. Hannah was named one of 300 National Semifinalists in 2015 as an eighth grader.
Hannah entered and won Discovery Education and 3M’s Young Scientists Challenge, becoming America’s 2015 top young scientist. Her project idea came from when she discovered that her pen pal, “9 year old Ruth from sub Saharan Africa, … [lived] in energy poverty with sporadic or no access to electricity.” As a solution, she created BEACON, which stands for Bringing Electricity Access to Countries Through Ocean Energy. She said that she “wants to try to make her dream of global access to fresh water- BEACON- a reality”
BEACON is a “novel, portable and cost-effective turbine” that uses untapped energy from ocean currents “to generate electricity for [Ruth] and her family.” It uses a type of water turbine called the Pelton wheel system connected to an AC generator to convert the energy produced by ocean currents into electricity. She says, “Most of the turbines available on the market are large — they take thousands of man hours to create — and they cost thousands to millions of dollars, whereas mine costs less than $500 to make” BEACON could potentially power a desalination pump or a 12-volt battery.
She received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a $5,000 award. As “America’s top young scientist”, she was awarded $25,000. Out of this, she sent $3000 to Compassion International, the nonprofit that connected her with 9-year-old Ruth and her family in Dessie, Ethiopia.
As a ninth grader, she placed second in the high school division in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. At this event, she was recognized by the Florida Engineering Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Florida Agricultural Society, and Society of Women Engineers.
The same year, she represented the United States in the category of Energy: Physical in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Here, she earned the Arizona State University Walton Sustainability Solutions award.
Hannah was invited to the annual White House Science Fair in 2016, where she presented BEACON to and met with not only the President, but with Bill Nye, Adam Savage, and Maya Ajmera.
She is currently developing her research to compete in tenth grade and beyond. Way to go Hannah!
You can see details of Hannah’s accomplishments on her website hannahherbst.com or follow her Twitter page, @hannahherbst07.
By: Kate McKinney 1/21/17
It’s about time for another round of inspiring interviewees! Meet Gradie Muntu, a junior from Paris, whose big dreams and aspirations led her right into the political spotlight. Read on to learn about her work with a unique and incredible non-profit that’s creating social change by providing young girls with STEM experiences.
“I’m part of an non-profit organization called “Wifilles”. Our goal is to reduce gender inequality in IT. We teach girls how to code, and how to problem solve. We give them insides on the IT world by visiting big tech companies like Dell or Microsoft. Girls learns how expansive the tech industry actually is and how many opportunities it actually holds. As for me, I’m an ambassador. I represent Wifilles at multiple events, where I get to talk about my experiences and gender inequalities problems. I also get to interview and meet really cool people like tech entrepreneurs and politicians. Wifilles will soon be working with the French government (the Ministry in Change of Family, Children and Women’s Rights, to be more precise) on a plan of mobilization and action against sexism and gender inequality.
I’m also part of Wifilles Society, which is the organization of the ambassadors. It’s a new group, and I’m super excited! We code apps for actual clients, as well as stage interventions with children to make them more aware of the possible dangers of the Internet. On top of that, we will also teaching code to boys and girls, young and old. The goal is to make sure no one is left out of the tech revolution. When asked about her passion for science and technology, Gradie described her disappointment with the unequal involvement of women in the tech industry, saying “Right now, women are being left aside.”
“The tech industry has such a big impact in our life. Women make up about 50% of the planet. It is only fair that they also get a say in the products that are shaping our daily lives. We need their side of their story, their ideas, their knowledge, and their thoughts on things. The products will only be better. Whenever I say I code, girls say: ‘I couldn’t never do that, I suck’ when they haven’t even tried to do it. We girls tend to be perfectionists, but coding is all about problem solving, trials and errors. I think there is nothing more satisfying than looking at a program or website you made and thinking that you did it all on your own.”
It’s always neat to hear about what motivates other young women in STEM to do what they do, and Gradie phrased it pretty eloquently, noting:
“I love being part of something bigger than myself. I love knowing that I’m actually doing something that matters and that, hopefully, will change the world one day.”
And as for others, this science super girl suggests that the worst thing girls can do is limit themselves. She explained to us her thoughts about the reasons why girls sometimes struggle to become successful in STEM fields, saying:
“Too often we stop ourselves from achieving something without even trying anything. Let yourself dream, let your dreams and aspirations guide your inspiration. Let yourself be unique and true to yourself because it will make a difference.”
We hope to hear more from Gradie as her story develops, and we share her success story as an inspiration for aspiring tech-girls everywhere!
Article by: Madeleine Gagne’ 1/21/17
Meet Jillian Yuricich- a modern-day Neil Armstrong joining the call of NASA’s best and brightest. This Ohio State grad is going above and beyond in her quest to become a NASA astronaut. Inspired from a young age to reach for the stars, Yuricich will stop at nothing to encourage the exploration of space and take her turn around the carousel of earth’s orbit. From the corn fields of Ohio to the sparkling stars of the Milky Way, join Jillian on her quest to discover more about the vastness we call outer space.
Jillian recalls her first introduction to the wonderful world of space exploration as somewhat of a miraculous coincidence. Within the bustling rooms of her elementary school’s first grade class, half of the grade was assigned to study weather while the other half got to learn all about space. While Jillian knows she would have found her true calling no matter what, it was this unit that certainly helped her fall deeply in love with space at such a young age. Commenting on why there was a big cartoon flag on the moon during a story session about space, Jillian was dazzled to learn that Americans had walked on our planet’s satellite before. “I loved the field before I could even spell astronaut!” comments Jillian with a laugh. Looking up at the night sky, Jillian recalls it suddenly wasn’t just a two-dimensional view anymore- should could almost feel the earth floating there in the vacuum of space itself. While her parents for a while thought it might be just a phase, Jillian recalls driving the local librarians crazy when she checked out all the space books time and time again. Later going on to complete Space Camp and many engineering camps, her love for the field only grew. “I taped the 4 hour Sam Neil History Channel special on outer space, and I wore out the VHS because I watched it so much!” Jillian recounts. “I don’t think I understood it all at the time, but I loved it!” she adds. From stargazing at her Grandfather’s farm to getting her first telescope, Jillian knows there is a future for astronauts everywhere. “Is no longer a fantasy. We are on the cusp of a rebirth of an age of space exploration.”
Highly qualified, Jillian is most known for receiving a $10,000 scholarship in 2014 from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which was originally founded by the Mercury 7 astronauts to encourage kids with aspirations in science. Receiving a full scholarship to The Ohio State University, Yuricich was nominated by faculty member Mei Zhuang for her outstanding passion for space and commitment to her life-long dream. Receiving a letter in the mail, Jillian realized she had been so excited the scholarship was from real astronauts, she didn’t even check to see how much money it was worth! Attending a gala for her award, Jillian was delighted with how many people shared the same passion for aerospace. Jillian has been involved with both NASA and google in the past. Working at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Yuricich got to help investigate a project involving new offices Google was building near NASA Ames and its incredible 80- by 120-Foot Wind Tunnel. Yuricich proved that the wind tunnel’s fidelity would remain despite the construction of buildings upwind. Jillian has also worked hard to encourage other students to pursue their passion in space exploration, and has worked on fundraising generations to support this next generation of astronauts. She continues to work tirelessly to ensure a future full of passion, discovery, and a dedication to the cause of space travel.
When asked in our phone interview why she loves what she does, Jillian’s voice seems to almost jump out of the speaker with excitement, bursting with anticipation to answer the question. “Hard work leads to your dreams. Unless you really love it, it won’t happen. It isn’t enough just to look at past astronauts. You have to want to be in the military- you have to want to study these things- you have to want all of the steps in between. That is the passion side. Yet, you also have to be good at what you do to get noticed.” Jillian tells us. “When you apply, you are up against the best competition. What separates you is if you are excellent in your field of study. You have to be good at what you do. But that can only happen if you love it.” Besides career advice, Jillian also describes how important it is to remain a balanced person. A lover of singing, painting, and the arts, Jillian encourages students to look past their work every once and a while to relax through creative expression. With high career aspirations comes stress, and Jillian encourages others find a healthy way to deal with it. Discussing her own history with perfectionism, Jillian recalls vividly how she would be going to bed late and stressing endlessly over her work, trying to find mistakes. However, this experience also taught her to take a step back, and she encourages others to walk away from perfection, as it is simply important that you have tried your best. Jillian implores that when it comes to school not to worry about taking incredible loads of AP classes or honors college coursework. Jillian says that in some cases, it is unnecessary to take large loads of stressful classes, and that it is important you simply find your passion. “If your college is saying that it is too rigorous, listen to it! You must trust those who know best” she adds.
Working on her PhD currently, Jillian also wishes to give a shout out to her family who have provided her with incredible support. From trading in coloring sheets for multiplication sets to space movies as birthday gifts, Jilian is ever grateful for the encouragement from her family. She too hopes to provide this level of support to her fellow peers in the aerospace community, and towards the many generations of scientists to come.
Check out Jillian’s TedX Hilliard talk below for more information about her incredible journey!
History of The Collins-Miller Project
Written by Project Founder and New-Age Girls Editor-in-Chief Madeleine Gagne
“My story starts in the town of Dublin, Ohio- an area known for its early Irish settlers, golf, and its strange corn statues. It’s practically a rite of passage in our area to complete a science fair project in 7th grade, and back in 2011, I had no option but to participate. Back then, I was probably more interested in making movies with my friends or fiddling around with paper and glue. Since childhood, I had always been yelled at for things like that- using up too much of the classroom’s tape to build a village of paper houses, organizing plays on the playground when I really should be just reading them- I was certainly always that “special” child that ended up in the remedial classes because they just weren’t like the other kids. I didn’t think much of the upcoming science fair- to me it just seemed like another school project. I remember coming home from school and having my dad help me brainstorm a good idea. Working for a power company, he had heard a lot about the recent advancements in algae biofuel- a market which had really started to take flight in 2011. I remember flashing back to my brother and me throwing pond scum at each other during the summer months down by the pond near the house- the idea of making gasoline from a plant just truly boggled my mind! Out of pure interest, I started to research algae biofuel. Soon, hours turned into days and days into months- and before I knew it, I had formulated a project idea. I started to grow algae in the basement- extracting the oil in the garage and in the kitchen using pots and pans from the dollar store. Sometimes I wonder if my two parents (both coming from an academic background of the liberal arts) knew what was going on the whole time! But I certainly couldn’t have done anything without their encouragement, advice, and support. They taught me that it was okay to be different, and for that I am forever grateful. As soon as the science fair season started, everything became a whirlwind of competition. I started to win money to fund my projects, and meet other amazing students along the way! What I didn’t know at the time was that these events would trigger my love of science! But looking back, I think I always really loved the field. The exploring and building- it was always there, I just didn’t know that all I loved was summed up by the term “science”! But as I continued to compete, a continuous question posed by the judges stuck out- “does the oil need to be refined?” You see, in 2012 into 2013, the potential for algae biofuel as an alternative energy source decreased due to its need for refinement. When working with alternative energies, the golden rule of sorts is that there should be less energy and money going into the project than coming out. The algae oil’s need for refinement tips this balance, making the fuel not as energy-efficient as other alternative energy sources. Because algae biofuel can technically burn carbon neutral, use plants that grow quickly in salt or freshwater, and can be extracted using reusable chemicals, this was truly the only obstacle holding back the biofuel market. I just kept thinking about how beneficial it could be to find a way around this problem. During my 8th grade science fair competition season, I was eliminated at the regional level for not completing my experiments in a real laboratory, cutting my funding. I began to realize how hard it would be to continue to compete- many of the other students had parents in the sciences, or could afford to rent out labs or buy new materials of their own- with to my measly dollar-store self-budget, reusable aluminum pots and pans just weren’t going to cut it anymore. With the market for biofuels down and no one to turn to, I thought my days with algae biofuel were over. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Just for fun, I continued to theorize ways around refinement in my spare time. Since 7th grade, I had become one of the best students in my school with one of the highest GPAs- goodbye remedial classes! It was just in time too, since GPAs start becoming cumulative in 8th grade. I had begun to take chemistry in 9th grade (uncommon at the time), and really enjoyed talking with my chemistry teacher, Danielle Collins, about all things science. I eventually got up the guts to talk to her about my science fair projects, and my lack of resources. I had recently come up with a potential solution to refinement- it was a weak strand of hope to go on, but I told her about it any way. Mrs. Collins said I could come in and use her class laboratory to continue working on my experiments. Excited, I started testing my idea, which focused on seaweed over freshwater algae. But as winter rolled around, I found I had maxed out even the high school’s capabilities. I needed access to some heavier machines so I could put my hypothesis to the test. Under the guidance of Mrs. Collins, I decided it was time to contact The Ohio State University for help. A terrified high school freshman, I dialed the biochemistry department’s phone number, hands shaking. Unbeknownst to me, the department’s secretary had a funny tradition of sending all strange phone calls to her good friend, Angela (Angie) Miller- head of the demo lab at the university, and a professional tutor in all things chemistry. Once connected with Angie, I began to tell her all about my research. To my surprise, Angie explained I might be able to come to the lab and continue my research under her supervision. Astonished at my luck, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. As the Ohio winter winds became a gentle spring breeze, I began to learn bits and pieces of organic chemistry from Angie. As sample after sample was tested, I grew more and more confident in my ability as a scientist. There was no feeling in the world like putting on a fresh lab coat or waltzing down a hallway with samples. The freezing cold stone floors and the smell of burnt coffee were no match for the knowledge cultivated inside that tiny demo lab. But as another summer came and went, I found myself stuck on some of the experiment’s results. But, at 3:00 AM on a cold February morning, I realized one of the components we had been watching- omega-3 fatty acid DHA- had the potential to undergo a Methylesterification reaction, effectively avoiding refinement by becoming an ethanol-based fuel. Giddy with excitement, I allowed myself to wait 4 hours until daylight to contact Angie. After pre-ordering some already isolated DHA, we completed the Methylesterification and did a flame test. To my delight, the fuel combusted as a gas- just what we were looking for since the fuel was just barley in the carbon-count range for diesel cars. Realizing we had hit a breakthrough in the algae sciences, Angie allowed me to reserve one of the lecture halls for an evening and present my findings to my school’s chemistry teachers and a couple of OSU faculty- my first scientific lecture! While scared at the time, that night turned out to be one of the happiest of my life- I truly felt like a real scientist! From there, we landed a couple of interviews with the local paper, and a mini TV talk show for the Dublin City Schools called “uvebeenschooled.” Soon after, The Columbus Dispatch featured our discovery loud and proud on the second page of the insight section on May 30th, 2015, all thanks to my amazing piano teacher, Casey McKeown, who by chance new the newspaper’s musical columnist. Around me, I could see so many individuals who doubted me during elementary school learning about this secret life of science I had- it was just so amazing to be recognized! But then it dawned on me- so many other girls around the world must be facing the same thing- as a minority in the STEM fields, women often time struggle for support to pursue a life of scientific discovery. I began to wonder if there was a way I could direct the media attention our research was receiving towards other girls who were doing similar things all around the world. On a bit of a self-venture, I started a WordPress website about the project, but tacked on a section called The New-Age Girls Club. At the time of the group’s formation, the title “New-Age Girl” online was seen as a bit of an insult. By naming the group this, I hoped to turn a slightly derogatory title into something of prestige. I had recently read about a couple of girls about my age in the news standing out for their success in STEM. In addition to some more locally-known lovers of STEM, I decided to interview them and hear about their stories. Including accounts of advice they would give to other girls, why they loved STEM, and what achievements they had made in the past, I put together a small little newsletter on the site. Announcing the article’s release on the project’s newly created Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages (by this point in time, the project was known as The Collins-Miller Project- a nod to all the help from Mrs. Collins and Angie), the website shocking clocked a ton of views, many coming from overseas! Turns out, others wanted to learn more about women in STEM! With school starting later that fall, I knew I couldn’t write the newsletter all the time. To fit my schedule, I decided to make the newsletter quarter-annual. Girls could subscribe to a free and easy membership (becoming part of the “club”), and learn more about amazing STEM projects by women all around the world! To my amazement, our page attracted many viewers looking to share their story. But the best part was always learning through articles online about girls doing incredible things and contacting them! We’ve featured a bunch of well-known scientists and science supporters! From acclaimed Netflix actresses, PBS television hosts, award-winning coders, and even potential astronauts, The Collins-Miller Project’s New-Age Girls Club has become a real online hit! Now, I have other girls helping me to write these stories from all over the world! The Collins-Miller Project Page has received views from over 68 different countries. Later that year, I discovered xSTEM- the Nation’s largest science and engineering festival in the country. For my birthday, I asked if my parents could allow me to go and hold a booth (it cost about $200) for The Collins-Miller Project and The New-Age Girls Club. As a joint Christmas and birthday gift, my parents decided I could go with my mom (taking Angie too!) and present at xSTEM. Thanks to donations through our project’s Go Fund Me, we were able to create some brochures and pencils with our web address to take too! As spring rolled around (and the STEM Expo with it!), I soon found myself filling out the excused absence papers in the attendance office. Not thinking much of it, our attendance officer, Mrs. Murdock, asked where I was headed. I mentioned I was going to DC for a STEM Expo. Knowing my history with The Collins-Miller Project she mentioned that her brother (by coincidence) was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy’s Department of Energy, and that I could meet with him to discuss environmental policy if I was interested. I remember not really realizing what she had said for a few seconds and then doing a double take. That week, she called and got me his phone number. Calling later that night to secure a date, I remember surprising my mom, who was thrilled at the idea of visiting the Pentagon too! So later that April, I got to discuss the environmental applications of algae biofuel with Mr. Bryan, as well as Britt Boughey, the chief operating officer at Beryl Renewables and a leading expert on algae biofuels. My time at The Pentagon was truly the most exciting collection of moments so far in my life, and easily the epitome of my work as a scientist. I feel so honored to meet such incredible individuals. At xSTEM, I was also able to briefly meet and have my school’s flag signed by Steve Welby, the current Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and meet fellow algae biofuel-er Sara Voltz, winner of The Intel National Science Fair- yet again, true honors.
So from paper houses to The Pentagon, my experiences as Founder and Editor and Chief of The New-Age Girls Newsletter have taken me places I never could have guessed. But above all else, the most rewarding moment of it all is sharing other girl’s stories. I saw how a little bit of media could help my career, and I feel incredibly proud to do the same for other girls- so that they can get that jumpstart they need to make the world a better place. While luck took a certain role in my success, I want to be that luck- that opportunity for others.”