Austin Wang is a grade 10 student at David Thompson Secondary in Vancouver, BC. He has a strong passion for fuel cells and has been conducting research on this technology since grade 8, earning numerous honours. For the past two years, Austin has been focusing on research to improve the performance and design of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). This year Austin was selected to participate in the Canada-Wide Science Fair for the first time, earning a silver medal and a scholarship.
Microbial fuel cells are bioelectrochemical systems that convert chemical energy into electrical energy by exploiting the electron transferring capabilities of special microorganisms. These versatile devices can be used for energy generation and wastewater treatment. This year Austin investigated how selective pressures of MFCs cause microbial communities within these fuel cells to change over time. By understanding how the communities of microbes within the fuel cells shift, new insights can be gained into the electricity generation processes within MFCs.
As a novel electricity generation technology, Austin believes that MFCs have great potential in reducing our carbon emissions, and in providing power for third world and developing nations. Austin believes his research will yield new insights into the internal functions of MFCs and will lead to improved reactor designs and better performance. He hopes to continue his research in MFC technology.
Besides fuel cells, Austin has a strong interest in math and writing. He achieved a perfect score on the Gauss math contest, and is the Cayley, Pascal, Fryer and Galois school champion. His essay, “The Next Sustainable Energy Source—Bacteria?” earned him an honorable mention in the DuPont Essay Challenge.
Aside from his passion for STEM, Austin lives an active life in sports and music. Austin played high school basketball, as well as soccer and cross-country. Austin has played piano for 10 years, cello for 3 years, and was part of jazz and concert bands as a flutist and alto saxophonist. In his spare time, Austin enjoys composing original music. Recently, he won the Golden Key International Piano Composition Competition. Austin will perform his composition at the World Young Composer’s Recital in Vienna, Austria. Passionate about global issues, and an enthusiastic participant of Model United Nations, Austin is the founding president of his school’s Model UN club. Although still uncertain about his future, Austin believes he will pursue a STEM or STEM related career.
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