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The Best and The Brightest of 2023



Age 16 | Junior
BASIS Scottsdale
From an early age, Georgia Bukata was fascinated by science and curious about the world around her. In 2nd grade, she participated in the school science fair and did a project on stars and light pollution. From that point forward, she was hooked!

During her freshman year, she reached out to ASU faculty to help her explore ideas she had in the areas of bioscience. She was able to help develop and test a new portable optical spectrometer, finding the capabilities and limitations of this cutting-edge technology that would eventually aid in her experimental design. Initially, she used the device to measure sugar content in fruit to help those with diabetes. After building on this information, she decided to explore the waxes on produce to determine if they were harmful. Her project called “The Comparison of Waxes to Determine Produce Safety Using a Portable Optical Spectrometer” won first place at the 2022 Arizona State Science and Engineering Fair. In addition, she won a $1,000 scholarship from the Caris Foundation for her innovative project in biomedical engineering.

“I entered a lot of science fairs before I won anything,” said Bukata. “Students need to know it’s ok to fail before you succeed. Keep going for it and asking for help or connections to people. I was pleasantly surprised at how willing the ASU faculty was to help me.”

Georgia was a research intern with Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Center for Rare Childhood Diseases, where she used her math skills to study protein modeling and coding, and she was able to further her research in biochemistry through the ASU Science and Engineering Experience (SCENE) Program. Last year, she also had an opportunity to participate in a Summer Mathematics Program for High School students, a grant funded, all-expense paid mathematics and research program.

When she’s not researching and learning about science, you’ll find her on the soccer field, volunteering at Gigi’s Playhouse, tutoring other students in math or science, or acting as head chair of the Mental Health Workgroup on the Governor’s Youth Commission. In this position, she leads her peers in creating a social media campaign to expand mental health clubs in Arizona high schools. This has been an important issue for her after witnessing the toll the pandemic took on her peers’ mental health as well as the negative effects of social media.

Georgia plans to study science in college and hopes to go on to medical school and pursue a career in medical research.
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