About Elif

About Elif

“‘Genius,’ Thomas Edison famously said, “is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” He would have found a kindred spirit in Elif Bilgin, 16, of Istanbul, winner of the 2013 Science in Action Award, part of the third annual Google Science Fair. “
-Mariette DiCristina, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific American. (See original post here.)

Born in 1997, Elif Bilgin is a young scientist originally from Istanbul, Turkey.

Growing up, she was always a curious child, eager to learn at every opportunity. She taught herself how to read and write at the age of 4, which allowed her to read books about science, perhaps laying the foundation for the adventures she would embark on in the future. She also began inventing at an early age, with her first project of developing manual window wipers for her glasses when she was 8. Throughout elementary and middle school, she participated in numerous science fairs, placing first with projects such as “Designing a Car Powered by Wind” or “Soilless Farming.”

When she was 14, inspired by the urge to alleviate the plastic pollution in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, she began her project of inventing a method to make bioplastic out of banana peels. She worked on this project for 2 years, and overall conducted 12 experiments, 10 of which failed. After getting successful results from her experiments, she entered her project to the Google Science Fair 2013 competition. In September 2013, she became a winner of the Google Science Fair 2013, as the winner of the “Scientific American Magazine’s Science in Action Award” and the “Voters’ Choice Award.” After her success at the Google Science Fair, she has been a guest speaker at various conferences such as Google Zeitgeist 2013, TEDx Vienna, The European Union’s Innovation Convention, TEDx Diyarbakir, and has visited CERN after an invitation from Professor Bilge Demirkoz. Over the years, she has gotten a chance to meet many influential leaders/innovators such as Larry Paige, Richard Branson, Sam Palmisano and José Manuel Barroso.

This past summer, she had the opportunity of interning at Virgin Galactic, where she worked on developing a sensor kit for the passenger seats of the spaceship Unity.

Currently, Elif is a junior in college, double majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science.