Student from Sussex County invited to Participate in White House Science Fair

The Delaware Biotechnology Institute (DBI) is proud to announce that Sussex County, Delaware native Mikayla Ockels, recipient of the Practical Impact Award at the U.S. National BioGENEius Challenge in 2015, has been invited to participate at the White House Science Fair, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. Now in its sixth and final year of President Obama’s Administration, the White House Science Fair honors and celebrates students for their accomplishments in a broad range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competitions across the Nation.

The President hosted the first-ever White House Science Fair in October 2010, fulfilling a commitment he made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign which aims to move American students from the middle to the top-of-the-pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. As the President noted then, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”

“Mikayla is an example of the outstanding young people from the State of Delaware who are leading the way in STEM innovation,” Governor Jack Markell said. “They hold the keys to tomorrow’s success and we are proud to have Mikayla representing Delaware in our nation’s capital.”

The White House Science Fair features extraordinary science projects and experiments from some of America’s most innovative students.

“I had the honor of visiting Mikayla on her family farm and witnessed first-hand her passion for agriculture life sciences – from her flowers and vegetables to her chickens, goats and horses, Mikayla loves learning how she can expand the horizons to feed the world,” stated Delaware Economic Development director, Bernice Whaley. “Delaware is fortunate to have such bright young talent growing in our state.”

This year’s White House Science Fair will highlight the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and innovators. Students attending this year’s Science Fair are tackling some of our Nation’s greatest challenges – from combatting climate change, to uncovering new ways to fight cancer, to discovering ways to reach farther beyond our atmosphere as a part of the Mars generation.

“Mikayla’s participation means that two students in the past few years, from Delaware, have been fortunate enough to be recognized at this national event which is a testimony to the quality and enthusiasm of our youngest scientists in the state.” says Kelvin Lee, Director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and University of Delaware Gore Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Ockels, a senior at Sussex Central High School, was awarded the 2015 Practical Impact Award with her research project entitled “Heritage Hens, Weighing in on Feed to Egg Conversion Rate.” Competing against finalists from across the U.S., the award recognized Ockels who combined her dedication to sustainability with real world knowledge to increase the productivity of egg farming. The award from the Biotechnology Institute (BI) provides financial assistance to continue the research along with mentorship from BI as well as industry leaders to support her pursuits.

Find out more about the students participating in this year’s Science Fair at

To watch the White House Science Fair live on Wednesday, April 13 at 2:00 pm please visit

About Delaware BioGENEius
The BioGENEius Challenges is an opportunity for high school students to compete on an international stage with some of the brightest scientific minds in the world. It is hosted by The Biotechnology Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Delaware BioGENEius Challenge is coordinated by the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. Local Delaware students in grades 9-12 can compete in the Delaware BioGENEius Challenge, which is held in conjunction with three local science fairs – the New Castle County Science Expo, the Kent County Science Fair, and the Sussex County Science Fair.

Local support for the 2015 Delaware BioGENEius Challenge was provided by AstraZeneca, W. L. Gore & Associates, Fraunhofer USA, We Work for Health Delaware Chapter and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

About Delaware Biotechnology Institute:
The Delaware Biotechnology Institute is a partnership among government, academia and industry to help establish the First State as a center of excellence in biotechnology and the life sciences.
DBI promotes research, education and technology transfer for biotechnology applications to the benefit of the environment, agriculture and human health.

Media Contact:
Delaware Biotechnology Institute
Alok Patel
Associate Director, External Relations
(302) 831-6165

Article by Allie Sethman
Photos by Kathleen Atkinson