Kyle Tianshi wins the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for California


Thank you Harris & Associates for sponsoring the California Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

Photo provided by Kyle Tianshi, California Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner

Kyle Tianshi, California Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) shares the state winners of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Kyle Tianshi, a bright young mind from The Cambridge School, is the first-place winner in California for his project Rapid Detection of Microplastics in Liquid: A Novel Light Scattering Method Using Fluorescence Emissions.

Kyle represented California in the U.S. SJWP event held in Colorado in June. Though he did not secure the top spot, CWEA takes immense pride in continuously sending talented students like Kyle to the national competition. Additionally, CWEA recognizes a second and third place winners in their local competition:

Second Place:
Christopher Kwok and Nicholas Kwok: Eukaryotic Algicide: Environmental Remediation of Harmful Algal Blooms via Microencapsulation for Bioactivation of Programmed Cell Death
Third Place (two winners):
Anna Peti-Peterdi and Lena Peresztegi: The Development of the C2F Seawater to Freshwater Converting Bioplant
Kairui Sun and Cyrus Ghane: A Novel Utilization of Ocimum basilicum Mucilage to Reduce Nitrate Runoff in Groundwater

The national finals at the Colorado School of Mines welcomes participants from 45 states and Puerto Rico. Standing out among the impressive competitors, Naomi Park from Greenwich, Connecticut, was awarded the national winner for her research on collecting Styrofoam debris in the ocean as a filter to reduce ocean carbon levels. Naomi will compete at the international competition to be held at World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden, August 20-24, 2023

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a highly esteemed youth competition dedicated to water-related research. Its primary mission is to nurture students’ interest in water issues and careers. The competition welcomes projects focusing on diverse aspects of water, including enhancing water quality, resource management, protection, and advancing drinking water and wastewater treatment methods.

“We host and underwrite the SJWP competition to encourage students as they develop solutions to water challenges,” said Ifetayo Venner, President of WEF’s Board. “This is the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. It’s extremely gratifying to see the students’ talent and passion for water issues, and I hope to see them in the water workforce in the future.”

Kyle Tianshi’s Abstract:

Rapid Detection of Microplastics in Liquid: A Novel Light Scattering Method Using Fluorescence Emissions

Microplastics are a rapidly emerging contaminant in water sources. California is in the process of standardizing testing methods for monitoring microplastics in drinking water (Bill SB1422-Safe Drinking Water Act). Existing technologies require filtration, tinting of the plastics via fluorescent dye, and manual examination under an FTIR or Raman spectrometer, and cannot accurately measure particles under 50 um. 

In contrast to traditional bright field and dark field microscopes, NEREID uses a 532 nm laser to illuminate solid particles in the water. A digital microscope records videos of illuminated particles, and an image processing algorithm in Python analyzes particle characteristics, including particle size and count distributions. NEREID can measure the shape and size of particles bigger than 10 um and detect particles as small as 5 nm in under 10 seconds. 

To distinguish microplastics from other debris in water, a 405 nm UV laser is used with a series of color filter lenses to study particle fluorescence emissions. Different solid particle contaminants may be characterized via this optical method. Further testing using a spectrometer is needed to distinguish microplastics from other debris. 

NEREID is integrated with the Raspberry Pi to bring the cost to under $60. This optical solution is useful for environmental, medical, and consumer applications.