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Stars of Science: Sumaiya wins first place

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Muscat - Sumaiya bint Saeed al Siyabi of the Sultanate wins first place in the Stars of Science program.

Earlier, she qualified for the final stage in the Stars of Science program for her innovation in “Bio-analysis of microplastics in a new way of biological and nanotechnology”, which was held on Friday, October 14.

After the triumph, she said, "This victory came as a result of the great support of various governmental and private institutions and members of the Omani society and from the Gulf and Arab countries through voting."

She expressed her happiness that she was able to prove the importance of her scientific innovation and its role in preserving the environment and human health.

Sumaiya looks forward to investing in its project at the local and international levels and benefiting from it on the ground to open new horizons for the protection of the environment, calling for the support of its project by all concerned authorities within the Sultanate.

"I was able to prove the importance of my scientific innovation and its role in preserving the environment and human health. During this stage, I conducted a practical application to follow the previous laboratory experiments. Using a fish tank filled with 10 liters of water, the process of decomposition of plastic particles was followed up and the changes that take place," she said.

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In 2021, Sumaiya received an Excellence Youth Award in Science from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth in Oman.

However, five years into her teaching career and after making her own family with three children, she felt stuck in a routine, yearning to dive even deeper into the field of biology. The aspiring scientist decided to pursue a master’s degree in biology from Sultan Qaboos University, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, in Oman, chasing her dream while also balancing her obligations to her family simultaneously. After graduating, she started developing her invention and applied to Stars of Science for a chance to gain experience from the show’s experts and resources. Despite its multitude of valuable uses, plastic is a harmful and persistent pollutant in our planet’s oceans, accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste according to the UN Environment Programme in their 2021 report “From Pollution to Solution.” As plastic trash continues to accumulate, an increasing amount of microplastics – pieces of plastic that measure up to 5 millimeters long – continue to show up in our aquatic ecosystems, representing a growing threat to the environment and other livelihoods. Sumaiya’s Remediation and Disposal of Micro-Plastics would serve as an invaluable tool to help address this issue. Free of harsh chemicals and environmentally friendly, the device is a floating sphere comprised of microbial mats and nanomaterials that dissolves microplastics it comes into contact with, under the sun over a reduced duration. The device would float among patches of plastic garbage on our oceans, trapping and disposing of microplastics that break free. Innovative and simple, it could be invaluable in protecting our natural water resources and the wildlife within.

Aquatic animals around the globe have been impacted by rising levels of microplastics, with researchers in the UAE even finding elevated levels of concentration among oyster beds off its coast. These particles can cause problems in their digestive systems or even soak up toxic pollutants, wreaking havoc along every step of the natural food chain if left unchecked. Furthermore, they can harm the human body.

Around 5 grams of microplastics enter our bodies every week. This has been studied to cause a range of problems, from inflammation in the lungs too, in more severe cases, cancer. Sumaiya’s invention could greatly reduce the build-up of microplastics before they have a chance to harm these ecosystems, safeguarding both the environment and the health of our communities.

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