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Poly junior Theodore Kratter awarded George Olah Fellowship for Creativity in Science and Engineering

Poly junior Theodore Kratter awarded George Olah Fellowship for Creativity in Science and Engineering
Melody Huang

This year marks the fifth annual competition for the George Olah Fellowship for Creativity in Science and Engineering, which honors the life of George Olah, Nobel Prize Award winner in Chemistry, University of Southern California professor and grandfather to two Poly alums: Kaitlyn Olah ‘14 and Justin Olah ‘19. Founded by Ron Olah, the son of George Olah, and his wife, Cindy Olah, this award provides funding for budding scientists interested in pursuing or continuing their own research projects.

Poly junior Theodore Kratter is the 2024 Fellowship recipient.

Through his project, Kratter strives to improve the quality of life for all people with food allergies, whether anaphylactic or mild, through a cost-effective, self-contained and quantitative device that quantifies the amount of allergens in the food, specifically those that contain peanuts.

“Approximately 32 million people in the United States have food allergies, with 1.6 million children suffering from peanut allergies in the United States,” explained Kratter. “Children with allergies experience negative impacts on quality of life because of the constant fear of the threat of anaphylaxis, and 24% of all food-allergic teens and adults have been harassed at some point because of their food allergy. Because childhood allergy is on the rise and has such negative impacts, I believe that an allergy test for everyday use will give more control and safety for people with severe allergies, ultimately creating a safe environment for them.”

With the funding he receives, Kratter hopes to buy reagents to create proof-of-concept devices for allergens other than peanuts as well as test kits for local restaurants and people with allergies.

“Theodore’s proposal was in such good shape that we were like, ‘This will work; this is something that we can support,’” said Science Department Chair and PolyEnriched Chemistry teacher Robin Barnes.

Kratter expressed his gratitude for the award.

“There are not many opportunities for high schoolers to receive funding for their research,” shared Kratter. “The fact that the Olahs dedicated money and put their trust in young people is so encouraging and inspires me to use this fellowship to the very best of my abilities – and not waste a single penny.”

“I’m so grateful to the Olah family for bringing this fellowship to Poly and trusting me and the Science Department to be good stewards of it,” said Barnes.

“Personally, these things, the George Olah Fellowship, Summer Research Connection and Dedrick Kon, is what I love about being department chair. Through the George Olah Fellowship, I have been able to see and enjoy what science students do outside of the classroom and help them as well.”

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Ashley Kim, News Editor
Grade: 11 Years on Staff: 3 Fun Fact: I may learn how to drive before I learn how to ride a bicycle… Favorite Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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