Seventeen-year-old Jessie MacAlpine, a senior at Woodstock’s Huron Park Secondary School, has picked up some big prizes at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona.

The fair concluded on Friday, and MacAlpine’s project ‘Mustard Oil as an Apicomplexan-targeting Drug Therapy for Plasmodium falciparum’ was among the top winners.

Plasmodium falciparum is one species of the parasite that is responsible for causing malaria in humans.

MacAlpine developed a malaria medication using cooking oil that is very inexpensive, which would make it available to those most affected by the disease.

“Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of emphasis on malaria in today’s society even though it’s still a huge problem. So hopefully there is now potential to help these people by using a very inexpensive treatment like this,” she says.

MacAlpine picked up the Best of Category for Medicine and Health Sciences, which brings an award of $5,000 plus $1,000 for her school and the region’s science fair organization.

The Grade 12 student describes the scene “They call up first place winners and we’re waiting on stage and I was almost crying knowing that I won first place, then they announced that I was best in my category.”

In addition, MacAlpine’s project was selected first for the Arizona State University Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives award, a $7,500 prize.

She says the next step for her will be a biochemistry degree at the University of Toronto, which has offered her a scholarship.

Canada sent a team of 18 students and they picked up a total of 25 awards.

London student Danila Alferov, a 15-year-old A.B. Lucas Secondary School student, was also among the winners.

His project ‘Neural Correlates of Visual Awareness during Perceptual Organization’ garnered him third place in the Behavioural and Social Sciences category.