Devoy, Ms. Chloe

2013 Winner: Science Fair Featured Student

Youngest Nominee Ever Researches Antibiotic Resistance

Thirteen-year-old grade 9 student Ms. Chloe Devoy had a very exciting year in 2013.

The youngest ASTech nominee ever won the prestigious Canada-Wide Science Fair Junior Gold award for her project Antibiotic Resistance in our Local Food Supply: Resistance or Pestilence? The project also received three awards at the Lethbridge Youth Science Fair and won the Genome Alberta Award.

“2012 was the first time I competed in my local science fair and I saw some remarkable projects,” says the ambitious youth from Lethbridge. “I was impressed at how young people could be so knowledgeable about science and began thinking about what I could do for a science fair project this year.”

Finding Inspiration

Ms. Devoy’s project was influenced by her mother, a nurse who said antibiotics only treated bacterial infections and warned her against using them for “every little sniffle or cold”. Ms. Devoy, an eager student of science, investigated further, delving into the concept of antibiotic stewardship.

“I began to hear talk about ‘super bugs’ that could no longer be treated with antibiotics,” she says. “I was a little scared and wanted to learn more about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The more she researched, the more Ms. Devoy realized that the use of antibiotics in animals and plants is a contributing factor to resistance. She began questioning how prevalent antibiotic-resistant bacteria were in the food she ate.

Startling Discoveries

“I was about to discover some not so likeable truths about my local food supply,” she says. Ms. Devoy was surprised to find E. coli present in samples she took from grocery store produce, beef and pork. And furthermore that E. coli proved to be 100-per cent antibiotic resistant.

“When you do science, you are always discovering something you’re not expecting and you never know where it will take you,” she says.

Ms. Devoy hopes her winning project helps inform people about antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their food; and ultimately curtails the overuse of antibiotics, particularly in animals and plants. Her long-term goal is to work in microbiology or oncology.

“I’d like to make a change in the every day lives of people,” she says.