Sometimes age is just a detail

Shree Bose, the young woman who won the 2011 Google Science Fair competition, visited CERN at the end of June. She had the chance to be here for the Higgs update seminar and, as she told the Bulletin, was "completely blown away”.


Shree Bose, in the LHC tunnel.

In 2011, Google launched its first global science competition for teenagers aged 13 to 18: the Google Science Fair. Several thousand young students from 91 countries took part in the contest by submitting a personal and original scientific work. Shree Bose won first prize in the 17-18 age category and the Google Science Fair “Grand prize”. Her work? She discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment – no less – by overcoming patients’ resistance to chemotherapy drugs.

Along with two other winners of the competition, Shree went to the White House to meet US President Obama, and presented her work at TED Women in Los Angeles. She was also named one of Glamour Magazine's “Amazing Young Women of 2011”.

On top of that, Shree won a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galápagos Islands with a National Geographic explorer and an internship at CERN, which she did from 26 June to 5 July 2012.

The Bulletin met her on 4 July, just after the Higgs update seminar and the press conference, which she had the chance to attend. Her enthusiasm was overwhelming: “This is ridiculous. It’s like the craziest planning!” she said. “I came during a technical stop, last week, so I got to go down to see the accelerator and all the detectors. And this week, I saw the control rooms. And then, I was here today for this huge announcement! I was thinking: ‘Oh my Goodness, this is history being made and I’m sitting right here, around people who have worked on this thing their entire lives.’ It was really inspiring.”

Shree "on shift" at the CCC.

Some other unexpected surprises enriched Shree’s visit to CERN. “I met Peter Higgs! He came to the office - it was the only 5 minutes break I'd had all day - and I was just sitting there…” she said. “This trip has been full of so many coincidences. I got to meet so many incredible people, from the physicists to the people running the machines, the shifters and the communication people. It has been so crazy!”

But what was the highlight of the visit for Shree? “I think my favourite part has actually been seeing all these minds working together: a group of people really determined, passionate. They can do the impossible. I’m completely blown away.”

In August, Shree will go to Harvard University to study cellular and molecular biology: “Right now, I’m in biology. But by being here, my interest has just been driven in so many directions.” We might see her at CERN again one day…

Follow Shree Bose on Twitter and

Tune in here at 4:00 a.m. (CET) on July 24 to watch a livestream of the finalist celebration gala and awards ceremony of the 2012 Google Science Fair competition.

by Anaïs Schaeffer