Tempe Corona grad earns high marks at international science fair - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Tempe Corona grad earns high marks at international science fair

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Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 9:00 am

Recent Corona del Sol graduate Sarah Galvin’s scientific prowess has earned her a high accolade at an international science fair and a trip to Stockholm, Sweden, to be among some of the sharpest minds in the world.

The 18-year-old, soon-to-be freshman at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University was among the participants at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May. Society for Science & the Public Interim CEO and chief advancement officer Rick Bates, whose group organizes the event, said the fair provides students opportunities to earn scholarships, meet with professionals and express their interest in science among peers.

“This is such an important opportunity for student in the U.S. and globally,” he said. “It’s such a wonderful thing we can do for their education and their future.”

Galvin’s experience concluded with her finishing in the top 17 among the fair’s contestants. Making it to that round required her to take first in one of the 17 categories, which in her case meant a win in the Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical classification.

To put her award into more accurate context, Galvin was one of 1,700 entrants from 70 countries at this event, and that doesn’t include the regional and state competitions she participated in to get there in the first place. So her project — dubbed, “An Innovative Approach to Improve Spin Polarization in Co2FeAl0.5Si0.5 Thin Films for Spin Transport Electronics” — is, technically, one of the best scientific projects presented by a teenager in the world.

Galvin said the crux of her presentations concerns quantum mechanics — in its simplest essence, a deconstruction of how something works — into quotidian technology. Technology is everywhere and in almost everything, and, as she pointed out, devices are getting smaller and smaller, yet faster and faster and more efficient at the same time. Her project combines those concepts with spintronics, which is centered on utilizing the way electrons spin for technological purposes.

It’s a rather complex concept, which isn’t surprising for the aspiring scientist whose history with the field traces back to kindergarten. Her aspirations back then were a little simpler — all she wanted to do was blow stuff up — but Galvin has continued her pursuit in the field to heights to which few people can even aspire.

Galvin has received a few things from her talents, among them a $5,000 scholarship for winning her category and the Dudley R. Herschbach SIYSS Award at the Intel ISEF event. The latter award gives her a trip to Stockholm in December, where she’ll attend lectures, go to institutes for science with fellow students and, most importantly, attend the Nobel festivities during the Nobel Prize presentations.

“It’s phenomenal. I haven’t been able to wrap my head around it,” she said.

Few people receive that kind of opportunity, a fact Galvin is well aware of. She’s anticipating the venue to meet with colleagues and experts in science and learn more concepts and listen to new ideas.

Galvin’s goal is to use experiences like this and any others she receives during the course of her formal education to eventually do something good for society.

“I have a better ability than most to make a real impact on the world,” she said. “I don’t want to become famous, I want to become great.”

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