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Local student innovation named a "Game Changer" at the Young Edison Challenge: Moore About Business

Sonia Patel and Amaya Etcheverry
Amaya Etcheverry and Sonia Patel

One of my favorite parts of the Edison Awards is the Young Edison Challenge, which is open to students from around the world. This year there were applicants from 60 countries. Two of the winners were from Southwest Florida.

The 2023 bronze medalist is Amaya Etcheverry. This junior from Naples was recognized for her bio purification innovation using algae to create a photobioreactor that both purifies the air and sequesters carbon while generating electricity.

Sonia Patel is a junior from Naples and is no stranger to the Young Edison Challenge. Last year she won a silver medal for her innovation of a silicone eye applanation model, which gives clinicians practice in taking eye pressure measurements. This year she expanded on her research and that innovation was named a "Game Changer" because of its potential global impact. I'll let her explain it.

"So, I created an eye model that will allow surgical residents who are hoping to become future surgeons. They can use the eye model that now has a silicon sclera to learn how to properly suture on the sclera, as well as on the cornea," said Patel. "And they can even perform sclera buckling surgery. Residents currently lack synthetic eye models. So they have to wait until a residency program has access to surgical simulators which are really expensive, or even wet lab days when they have access to pig or cow eyes. So this eye model allows them to practice whenever they want and wherever they want."

She then described her next steps for this innovation.

"My eye model is currently patent pending," she said. "As far as building on to my eye model, I have found a couple of ways that I can make it even better, such as developing more corneas and allowing the residents to practice how to perform a corneal transplant."

Sonya shared her one piece of advice for all innovators.

"The importance of persistence and not giving up despite failures."

I am in awe of these two young ladies from Southwest Florida and look forward to hearing more about their accomplishments in the future.

Karen Moore is publisher of Southwest Florida Business Today, and is special to WGCU.

Publisher of SWFL Business Today