A scheme for using genetically engineered bacteria to detect pollutants and hazardous materials in municipal water systems won Israeli PhD student Yossi Kabessa $100,000 in the Singapore Challenge 2014, part of the Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore (GYSS) last January.
ISRAEL21c met with Kabessa to find out more about the biosensor he’s developing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Peter Brojde Center for Innovative Engineering and Computer Science.
Learning about his work is challenging, because the 33-year-old father of four specializes in nanotechnology that you can’t see with the naked eye.
Nevertheless, last December he used a scanning electron microscope to photograph the hanukkiyah (Hanukkah menorah) that he and fellow doctoral candidate Ido Eisenberg fashioned out of a bit of polymer the size of a speck of dust.
Touted in the press as the world’s smallest hanukkiyah, it was a playful test of Israel’s first Nanoscribe, an advanced 3D microprinter from Germany that will enable Kabessa to put all the components of his award-winning biosensor into a micro lab on a chip.
The winning proposal occurred to him while working on a project to map buried landmines using genetically engineered bacteria and an optoelectronic remote sampling system, led by Hebrew University professors Aharon Agranat and Shimshon Belkin.
“If the bacteria are spread on a minefield, they will sense explosives, and an airborne vehicle will detect the optical signal they produce,” Kabessa explains.
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How an Israeli PhD Student Won $100K in Singapore