Ailish says she's "an aspiring mad scientist" who is "fascinated by the dynamics of disease," especially epidemics. Her mad-scientist bent may soon have an impact on the latter. Ailish discovered a new antibiotic that's already being tested against HIV, SARS, and West Nile disease in a University of Mississippi lab.
The new antibiotic, called scoriosin, was extracted from an ugly, spongelike fungus: Scorias spongiosa, commonly known as sooty mold. It grows on beech trees, nourished by the sticky secretions of tiny insects, such as aphids and mealy bugs. After isolating scoriosin from a clump of fungus infecting a tree near her Long Island (N.Y.) home, Ailish showed that the compound combats at least three types of so-called Gram-positive bacteria. This family of microbes includes anthrax toxin, but scoriosin hasn't been tested against anthrax so far.
Bateman isolated a new antibiotic from this sponge-like growth, called
sooty mold. Scientifically known as known as Scorias spongiosa, sooty
molds grown on beech trees.
COMMENTS On The Issues
funding more r&d: Debating the moral issues we face today is a luxury we may not have tomorrow. A number of factors, from the emergence of China as an economic superpower to the volatile situation with Syria and Iran, may force a shift in focus and scientific funding. The U.S. must continue to evolve in both military and manufacturing technology. The world is changing quickly, and science must respond.
INTEL SCIENCE SEARCH FINALIST
Ailish E. Bateman
Pierson High School
Sag Harbor, N.Y.
Hobbies: Writing fiction, making pottery, designing Website graphics, learning the guitar, savoring key lime pie
Ambition: Research in biology, chemistry, or world health