GREENWICH, Conn. — A Greenwich High School junior made a lively appearance on "The Late Show With Colbert" on Monday, explaining her top science project to the host.
Colbert interviewed Olivia Hallisey, winner of the prestigious international Google Science Fair. Her award-winning project was a visual test for Ebola that functions much like a pregnancy test in that the result is visual and can be read by anyone.
"I don't know whether to be inspired or intimidated," Colbert said.
The test works this way: A patient puts a sample on one spot and pours water over three load spots on the testing paper. Another spots turns blue if the sample is positive for the disease.
Unlike current tests used by medical professionals, Hallisey’s test is highly transportable and doesn’t require refrigeration.
Hallisey said she wasn’t out to save the world — or treat a highly infectious and deadly disease that plagued West Africa — when she started thinking about a science fair project.
“My teacher said look for something that inspires you, something that’s relevant, and that was last fall when Ebola was really big in the news,” she said. “So I began looking at how could we limit the spread of Ebola.”
Ebola was first reported as a “mysterious” disease , that spread in a small Guinea village at the end of December, 2013, according to the World Health Organization. The disease was identified as Ebola on March 21, 2014. As more people became infected, West Africa saw the largest outbreak in history.
The situation has since drastically improved with no new cases reported in Guinea since the end of 2015. On Dec. 29, the World Health Organization declared that 42 days had passed with no new cases of the disease .
Inside the studio, the interview was decidedly upbeat, as Colbert switched between serious and more light-hearted questions. Toward the end of the interview, Colbert asked Hallisey whether she would put this project on her college applications.
“I think so,” Hallisey answered.
"Don't put it first," Colbert said. "Swim team, then global pandemic."
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