|Kelydra Welcker’s home lab.
Kelydra Welcker’s mother has strongly supported her daughter’s science fair projects, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“I’m so glad she went into chemistry,” Kelydra’s mom says. “But I don’t want mosquitoes in my living room anymore. She promised me that, after this year, there would be no more mosquitoes.”
Kelydra’s interest in mosquitoes has taken her far. Thanks to her research in how pollutants affect the pesky insects, the 11th-grader has been a prize-winning finalist at the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. She has competed twice at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
At ISEF last year, Kelydra won two $500 awards for a project called “Mapping Mosquito Biomarkers of Hormonal Manipulation.” At this year’s competition, she won $1,000 from the Patent and Trademark Office Society. The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry awarded her a student membership.
Along the way, Kelydra, 17, has made friends. She has also learned how to share her enthusiasm with people who don’t know much about science. And she is now seeking a patent for a technique she developed to remove a certain toxin from drinking water.
“Don’t be intimidated,” she advises aspiring science fair participants. “Always stick to it.”—Emily Sohn