Angelina Arora: Young Conservationist of the Year 2019

By Australian Geographic 1 November 2019
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Angelina Arora is the 2019 Young Conservationist of the Year for her invention of a biodegradable plastic, and her ongoing inventive spirit.

In 2018, Sydney high schooler Angelina Arora became known as the young scientist reshaping plastic waste thanks to her invention of a biodegradable alternative made from prawn shells.

“For a school science project, I made a plastic bag out of corn-starch, but it didn’t work because it was soluble in water, which would mean we’d have our groceries end up on the floor and it would also mean taking away precious food sources,” Angelina says. “That’s when I was at the fish and chip shop getting prawns for dinner and noticed that the prawn shells looked like plastic. I went back to the lab and thought about what exactly made them look like that.”

Angelina had discovered an element of the prawn shell that could be mixed with a protein from spider web to create a plastic that decomposed 1.5 million times faster than conventional plastics.

For her invention she earned a BHP Science and Engineering Award and was touted as the “16-year-old changing the world” by National Geographic. But she didn’t stop there.

Angelina is now exploring the effect of algae on oil spill remediation, which has again earned her a nomination in the BHP Science and Engineering Awards. In June of this year, Angelina became one of the youngest people to give a TED talk.

While many may think that Angelina would go into the field of material engineering, she actually has her eyes set on a medical degree. “Victor Chang is my ultimate role model,” she says. “He was fearless. I want to be a doctor in medical research.”

This award is sponsored by