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Kailyn Grant named Grand Award Winner in International Science & Engineering Fair

MADISON – Kailyn Grant, a junior at Bob Jones High School, is a Grand Award winner in the 2021 Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair or ISEF.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals now sponsors the event, which Intel Corporation supported for about 20 years.

As a 2021 ISEF Finalist, Grant claimed third place in the Materials Science category in her first attempt in this rigorous international competition. She worked independently to complete her project. A Bob Jones student has not won this honor in recent years.

Her project is entitled, “Targeted Core-Shell Nanoassembly Composed of a Mesoporous Silica Core, Liposome Shell, and GE11 Peptide as a Drug Delivery Nanocarrier.” After winning at the North Alabama Regional Science Fair, she advanced to the state-level Alabama State Engineering Fair to win “Best of Fair Award” and first place for the category.

“I researched a viable method to deliver chemotherapy drugs to reduce the toxicity level that produces terrible side effects,” Grant said. She determined a core-shell nanoassembly would encapsulate Dox-loaded mesoporous silica nanoparticles. “My preliminary research has proven . . . this delivery method is an effective, alternative drug delivery system and would not harm healthy cells surrounding cancerous cell/s.”

The University of Alabama in Huntsville allowed Grant to use a wet lab with spectroscopy and light scattering machines. “My mentor is Dr. Surangi Jayawardena, Associate Professor, Chemistry at UAH. I was incredibly humbled when I got to intern at her department last year,” Grant said.

Grant said the project’s most difficult aspect was crucial timing for research in the lab. Many experiment components were time-sensitive, requiring her meticulous planning.

Her parents are Kannan Grant and Hema Menon-Grant. He is Director of UAH Office of Technology Commercialization. She is Global Head of Human Resources at BASF Corporation. Kailyn’s 10-year-old brother Gian is a sixth-grader at Discovery Middle School.

In outreach, Kailyn founded the Python Powered by Girls initiative “to debunk the myth that coding is ‘too difficult’ or ‘too nerdy’ to learn.” In January, she started teaching basics of Python coding to female mentees with the non-profit AUM Foundation.

“My sincere gratitude goes to Alka Bhargav, Founder and Executive Director of AUM Foundation. She has been very gracious in providing me the platform to teach,” Kailyn said.

Kailyn is Co-Captain for Bob Jones Varsity Girls Tennis. A pianist, Grant was a state winner with ranking of “Outstanding” in the 2020 Alabama Music Teachers Association competition. She also enjoys reading, volunteering in community service and spending quality time with friends and family.

Grant plans to major in biomedical engineering in college.

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