Hayley Todesco

Since the age of 10, Hayley has been trying to solve local environmental issues through science fair projects after Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” ignited her zeal for environmentalism. At the age of 16, this passion led her to tackle the environmental issues surrounding the oil sands in her home province, specifically the oil sands tailings ponds. Through a novel science fair project, she designed an inexpensive set of bioreactors to biodegrade naphthenic acids – the most difficult water pollution in the tailings ponds. After years of troubleshooting and redesigning these naphthenic acid bioreactors, Hayley found that by creating biofilms, the indigenous bacteria she grew were capable of degrading these toxic pollutants at rates 14X faster than normal. A full-scale sustainable implementation of her results could potentially clean up the pollution in decades instead of centuries. For these amazing findings, Hayley was honoured to win the 2014 Google Science Fair, the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for the world’s top water-related science project, and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award. By speaking at local, national and international science fairs, youth conferences, and industry events, she has been able to encourage progress towards tailings bioremediation and inspire peers with her passion for environmentalism.