Google Science Fair winner: Conn. teen invents new Ebola test

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Last year, Olivia Hallisey had to be the only 16-year-old in the world thinking about a temperature-independent Ebola test.

Olivia realized existing ones -- made by adults -- need refrigeration. That's no small task in hot climates like West Africa.

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Olivia's Ebola test

"I think especially in science, it doesn't matter if you're a girl or you're young or where you're from. It's really just about your results," she said.

Olivia brought the idea to her Greenwich High School science teacher Andy Bramante.

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Olivia and her science teacher Andy Bramante

CBS News

"There was a lot of push back, you know, 'Andy, you have no business doing this with a student. It's not possible, it's not going to happen,'" Bramante said of the reaction to Olivia's project.

"I said let me be the judge of that. We'll figure it out."

To fix the refrigeration problem, Olivia came up with a novel test that can work in high temperatures. Her design acts like a pregnancy test.

She said she had a "eureka moment" while working on the design.

"There was a color change indicating the positive result. It was great when it happened."

Olivia and tens of thousands of other teenagers entered this year's Google Science Fair. She won the grand prize.

"And when her name got called, it was this release of just emotions. I'm just boo-hooing," Bramante said of her win.

Despite being an athlete and book smart, Olivia said she sometimes needs help taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. "Sometimes I get really stressed out if one thing isn't going my way."

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Olivia Hallisey at the Google Science Fair

Mr. Bramante has helped her with that.

"I think it's just a great lesson he's taught me is never to freak out over the little things because as big as it might seem, it's still little in the scheme of your whole life."

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook