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Five questions with ISEF 2019 Best of Category in Material Sciences winner, Adrien Jathe


This post is part of a series profiling the top award winners of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2019. Intel ISEF is the largest pre-college, international STEM competition in the world. This year’s competition included participants from 80 countries, regions and territories. Every year, the brightest young scientists from all over the world come together to participate in this incredible fair.

Adrien Jathe of Frankfurt, Germany was a winner in the category of material sciences at ISEF this year. He invented a pair of smart sunglasses. Built with an intricate combination of semi-transparent organic solar cells and liquid crystal shutters, his technology selectively darkens uncomfortable, glaring light sources (i.e. the sun) so that the wearer’s field of view is homogenously adjusted to a pleasant brightness. The properly illuminated surrounding, however, stays normally visible. This darkening process is automatic and near-instantaneous, which is especially helpful in intense light conditions. Adrien hopes that his smart sunglasses may one day be a good alternative to photochromic “transition” lenses.

Here is our conversation with Adrien.

What was your experience like at Intel ISEF?

It was one of the most memorable events I have ever attended. It was eye-opening to meet everyone and learn about their sophisticated projects. Seeing their enthusiasm for research was very refreshing.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your scientific career?

Data analysis, error analysis, explanations, conclusions and evaluations are just as important as recording data. These aspects, along with being able to communicate, will allow a bystander to understand your work.

How do you deal with setbacks?

I constantly acclimate to achieve my goals; if I face a dead end, I try to analyze my mistakes and adapt my strategies to overcome the problem quickly. This is important so that I do not lament about encountering the setback and lose my motivation.

What do you feel is the most important invention/scientific breakthrough in the world?

Nuclear fusion. This breakthrough has enormous potential for improving infrastructure and the well-being of society and the planet.

What is something that people aren’t worried about that they should be more worried about?

People need to think in a sustainable way. We should move away from making decisions based on short-term projections. Instead, as a society, we should base our decisions on long-term sustainability so that not only the individual but humanity as a whole will benefit