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Abreo’s polymer wins at Intel engineering fair in Los Angeles

The Madison Record | Published 5:05pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014


MADISON – Joshua Abreo of Madison was among the award winners at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Abreo, 16, is a senior at James Clemens High School. His parents are Dennis and Felicia Abreo.

Nineteen high school students from across Alabama received an all-expenses paid trip to the Intel fair in Los Angeles during May. More than 1,700 students from 70 countries, regions or territories competed for prizes.

The Alabama entourage qualified to enter the prestigious event by winning a top prize at their regional or state science fair. Students received awards in Los Angeles in nine categories, along with three special awards.

Receiving one of the special awards, Abreo earned acknowledgment from the American Society for Microbiology. Abreo’s project was entitled “Development of a Novel Antimicrobial Polymer for Biomedical Applications.”

Abreo has received a provisional patent for his polymer.

“Polymers are frequently used for (antimicrobial material), but … over 50 percent of all hospital-acquired infections are caused due to polymers,” Abreo said. “I coated a polymer with copper, which is a natural antimicrobial.”

He exposed the polymer to light, changing its chemical makeup. He tested with two bacteria strains, and his surface killed more than 99.5 percent of all bacteria.

Abreo worked closely with associate professor Dr. Emanuel Waddell at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and James Clemens teachers Carol Bohatch and Robin Hodges.

At the Alabama Science and Engineering Fair, Abreo won Best in Category for microbiology, along with Best in Show. Abreo ranked in the top five presenters at the Alabama Academy of Science, Gorgas Scholarship Paper Reading Competition at Auburn University.

Founded in 1899, the American Society for Microbiology has members worldwide who represent 26 disciplines of microbiological specializations, along with a division for microbiology educators. The society’s awards recognize the most outstanding microbiology projects.

At James Clemens, Abreo is Quiz Bowl captain, Science National Honor Society president and belongs to the National Honor Society and cross-country team. In college, Abreo plans to study chemical engineering.

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