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In 2006, Alex Capecelatro worked on a project using aerogel, the lightest known solid, as an insulator to store insulin. Insulin, which many diabetics need to manage their condition, turns from life-saving to deadly as it warms. However, in some disaster situations, large areas may lose electricity, and therefore, refrigeration. This is where the aerogel insulators come in—keeping insulin at effective and safe temperatures for use without electricity.
Alex’s project earned him a spot at the Intel ISEF 2006. “It was such a fantastic experience,” he says. In addition to meeting a lot of amazing people, he says the experience pushed him in terms of the research he was doing. He went on to earn a B.S. in Material Science and Engineering from UCLA, spending summers conducting research at Harvard, the University of New Mexico, and the Naval Research Laboratory. His research has been published in the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology. “A lot of it stemmed from what I did with ISEF, so it really launched a lot of things I did since then,” Alex says.
His latest project has him working with aerogel yet again, coincidentally, with another Intel ISEF alumnus. They are currently developing new potential uses for the light-weight substance.
“To me, ISEF was such a big inspiration and motivator to get started with a lot of things and I really think it contributed a lot to where I ended up going afterwards,” Alex says, adding that he feels like an advocate for the program and SSP, “it’s such a great organization.”
As a child, Brian Wu (ISEF 2018-2019), a senior at Horace Mann School in New York City, was fascinated by the stars.