Hailey Cramer began creating gold nanoparticles — particles a thousand times smaller than the thickness of a human hair — as a high school junior and intern with the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
During the internship, she learned that nanoparticles could find and detect cancer, lighting up its exact location so that it could be traced and treated; they could be made into nanoscale machines capable of making today’s electronics even smaller; and they could serve as a new sustainable energy source in solar cells.
“The difference that these 15-nanometer particles could make in science, technology and the world was fascinating to me. The possibilities seemed endless and I wanted in,” the University of Delaware sophomore told an audience of over 1,000 newly minted Carson Scholars and their parents at a banquet April 7.
The Carson Scholars Fund, created by noted neurosurgeon Ben Carson, provides scholarships to junior and senior high school students who excel in academics and community service, as well as funding for school reading rooms to encourage literacy among young people.
Cramer, a two-time Carson Scholar, was in middle school the first time she heard Carson, author of Gifted Hands, tell of his journey from poverty to success. It was a field trip that inspired in her a life-long love of learning and a tireless desire to succeed.
In her invited talk, Cramer hoped her path to engineering would inspire the 2013 Carson Scholars not only to succeed, but to view themselves as role models for others.
“Each of you has unique skills that no one else has — you are amazing students; talented musicians, athletes or dancers; environmental advocates; aspiring teachers, scientists and doctors,” Cramer told the students. “Together you are the next generation of leaders, and that excites me and gives me confidence that our future will be in good hands.”
Today, Cramer is studying chemical and biomolecular engineering at UD. She continues to intern with the Army Research Laboratory, as well as conduct undergraduate research on polymer solar cells with Ismat Shah, professor of materials science and engineering.
A member of the UD Honors Program, Cramer also co-chairs UD’s Campus Sustainability Day and volunteers at the Little Sisters of the Poor retirement home.
Article by Karen B. Roberts