Honoring the 2014 Davidson Fellows; September 23-26, 2014
Each year, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship, which has been named as one of The 10 Biggest Scholarships in the World by TheBestColleges.org and one of 7 Prestigious Undergrad Scholarships in U.S. News & World Report, are awarded to 20 extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work in the categories of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box. This year’s application pool was no exception, with over 2000 applicants vying for these 20 scholarships, nationwide.
Two-year CSEF alumni, Sofia Bramante, from Fairfield, CT, was selected as a 2014 Davidson Fellow, and joined a list of students that included the 2013 Google Science Fair winner, the 2013 Intel STS winner, the 2014 Siemens Competition winner, many ISTS finalists, and musicians, composers, and literary artists that ranged in age from 13-18. Sofia was awarded a $10,000 scholarship for her Engineering project entitled, “Fabrication of a Flexible, Tunable Color Changing Skin using Magnetically Responsive Fe3O4 Photonic Crystal Structures.” In this research, Sofia created superparamagnetic ferrite colloidal nanoclusters that cooperatively scatter light when placed in solution. Better said, when placed in solution, these nanoclusters cause the color of the liquid to change from native brown to any color within the visible spectrum, red through blue, simply with the tuning of a magnet. She devised a way to synthesize these colloidal nanoclusters with improved response, so that color change and mobility in solution would occur with dramatically less magnetic field, and was able to embed these unique photonic crystals into polydimethylsiloxane, to create a magnetically tunable and flexible color changing thin film, that can be used to camouflage our defense vehicles, or offer color changing capabilities to consumer products.
In addition, the improved magnetic response of her nanoclusters will expand the biological application of these novel ferrite structures. Researchers have demonstrated that these nanoclusters can be used to carry chemotherapy drugs to cancer sites, with remarkable success. Others have shown that the heat generated by induced magnetic motion of these nanoclusters, when magnetically positioned at a malignancy, can be used to dissolve the tumor. In both applications, the improved magnetic performance of Sofia’s nanoclusters may allow physicians to position them with greater precision in cancer patients.
The Davidson Fellows are honored each year in Washington DC with Congressional meetings and a special reception, which was held at the Smithsonian Institution of the Native American Indian, on Friday, September 26th.
Additional images from Sofia’s experience at the David Fellows trip and reception are posted to the CSEF’s Flickr page. To learn more about the Davidson Fellowship Scholarship, and meet all of this year’s fellows, please visit their website at
To hear about why Bob Davidson started the Davidson Institute, see his 2005 CBS News Sunday Morning interview.
Past CSEF Alumni Davidson Fellows