News Roxanna named winner of Harvard Science Research Conference’s Innovation Challenge 05.11.2021

At the beginning of the week, Upper Sixth student Roxanna was delighted to learn that she was named as the winner of the Harvard Science Research Conference’s Innovation Challenge for her conceptual software and smartwatch for people with schizophrenia.

The Harvard Science Research Conference, a selective two-day conference for Sixth form students from across the world to develop their interests in the sciences and in research. Due to Covid, the conference was online this year, and featured keynote lectures from leading researchers at Harvard, such as Chemistry professor Dr Adam Cohen, and joint Chemistry and Physics professor Dr Hongkun Park. The program included opportunities to interact and meet with fellow participants, as well as current Harvard students involved in research.

Roxanna had this to say on the conference and her success in the Innovation Challenge:

‘I found the experience of interacting with world-leading scientific scholars fascinating, particularly the keynote speeches. I especially enjoyed Dr Hongkun Park’s lecture, detailing his lab research using quantum technology for brain-machine interfacing, essentially developing a link between robotics and the human brain. Dr Park also gave an explanation of what quantum technology is, and its applications within communication systems. While this topic had initially seemed daunting, his explanation, paired with some useful animations and videos, shed light on a previously obscure topic.

The end of the first day launched the week-long Innovation Challenge, with the theme, ‘Big Data in Science’. With this broad starting point, my team and I developed a proposal for a software and smartwatch for people with schizophrenia. Our product would monitor vitals and allow the user to log their symptoms so that the software could begin to predict changes and the onset of schizophrenic episodes. Each patient’s data would then be anonymised and the large data sets would be sent to researchers in order to boost research into the condition. The experience was useful in providing experience in developing a product concept and working with a project team, as all the previous research I have done has been independent. It also greatly challenged and improved my organisational skills, given that, as the team leader, I had to delegate tasks and manage deadlines with team-members in different time zones. This week, I found out that my team was one of three winners, which was an amazing reward following our hard work! 

Overall, the conference was a fantastic opportunity, which I recommend all sixth formers interested in science or research take part in. Not only was the insight into new frontiers in science incredibly engaging, the chance to debate and discuss new research ideas with similarly-minded people around the world was truly invaluable.’