Adcote Sixth Former becomes published scientist aged 18

Posted: 19th May 2021

Natalia’s research focused on finding an alternative to natural food colourings, which rely heavily on monoculture, by replacing them with pigments found in fallen Autumn leaves. Her study involved research into an efficient method of identifying and extracting different coloured pigments in the leaves.

Natalia was able to develop a new methodology which is less expensive than commonly used methods. It could now pave the way to the future use of fallen Autumn leaves to produce natural food dyes.

Natalia was able to carry out her research thanks to a science partnership between Adcote and the University Centre Shrewsbury which gave her the opportunity of working in university science laboratories alongside senior lecturers.

Her research was this week published in the online scientific journal Plos One. An autumn walk with her parents in her native Poland, three years ago, inspired Natalia’s idea for the research.

“I was looking at the Autumn colours of the trees and I started thinking about how trees could be used more in an environmentally responsible way,” she said.

“Artificial dyes in the food industry are harmful to human health while natural dyes require a lot of processes and irrigation and rely on monoculture.

“I thought that the colours in Autumn leaves could be a solution to this problem.” 

“We have no current use for Autumn leaves and their disposal is harmful to human health and the environment, hence processing autumn leaves would bring many benefits.”

Natalia began her research using fallen horse chestnut leaves.

Head of KS4 Science Mrs Barnett said: “From the first meeting at Shrewsbury University it was apparent that Natalia had a burning passion for science. The depth of research she carried out was remarkable and the manner to which she presented herself showed maturity beyond her years.

“Natalia has shown tenacity and resilience in bucket loads to see this project through. I am incredibly proud of her achievement and I believe she will go on to push the frontier of science.

“I also want to thank Dr Sharp, her mentor at the University. Without him this would not have happened.” 

Natalia now hopes to take her research further in the next stage of her scientific journey with an international research team. She has a place to study biochemistry at the University College London this coming September. We wish her every success.

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