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Inspire_Her Feature: Sofiya Lysenko (A Winner in the coderGirls International Video Competition 2018

Briana: Why did you enter the coderGirls competition and what did you enter with?

Sofiya: I entered the coderGirls competition to inspire other girls to find ambitions in computer science and help other girls to too, by showing them my initiatives and impact in computer science, as well as projects I have undertaken independently for computer science. I entered with a video that describes my underlying passion for computer science, my most recent project with DNA Robotics, and finally my initiatives to close the gender gap in computer science.

Briana: What did this achievement mean to you?

Sofiya: This achievement meant much to me because it illustrated that the impacts I have made thus far are able to be translated towards the international community too. I am excited for this achievement of my video, because I would be able to truly inspire other girls to find ambitions in computer science and help them realize these ambitions.

Briana: What was your first experience with technology and/or coding?

Sofiya: My first experience with technology and/or coding was as a child attending robotics camps for Lego and Vex robotics, and then teaching myself how to code with Scratch. These experiences not only sparked my interest in technology, but also followed through to my passions to help close the gender gap in computer science.

Briana: Describe some of your achievements in awards or extracurriculars, especially STEM.


2017-2018: “Intelligent NN Nanorobotic Systems for Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment”

Investigating use of DNA origami and computational methods (DSD cascades) to develop smart drug-delivery system with implementation of a DNA neural network to cross the blood brain barrier and differentiate target cells (applications of therapeutic drug delivery in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases)

  1. 2nd Place Montgomery County Science Fair

  2. Honorable Mention Delaware Valley Science Fair

  3. 1st Place Janssen, 2nd place Merck recognition

  4. Recognition by Parenteral Drug Association Delaware Valley

  5. BioGENEius Finalist

Established BioEnGene laboratory (May 2018)

The mission of the Abington BioEnGene lab is to encourage ASHS students to engage with biotechnological projects and materials, learn laboratory techniques and procedures, and facilitate an environment where anyone can work on and learn about biotechnology, thereby promoting science and research literacy through student access to biotechnology.

Established chapter of Society of Women Engineers (May 2018)

Engineering Club (2017-Present)

Assisting in leading a team for the SeaGlide competition, set to compete in early March 2018

2016-2017: “Designing Biological Computational Circuits to Facilitate Cancer Treatment”

Project on expression of drug conjugated antibodies by designing computational biological circuits (applications of cheaper and more effective cancer therapy)

  • Advances to MCSRC competition (County)

  • Wins 2nd place at MCSRC, advances to DVSF (Regional)

  • Project wins honorable mention at Delaware Valley Science Fair

2015- 2016: Designed a homemade gel electrophoresis device to denature proteins extracted from banana, kiwi, onion, and milk

  • 1st place winner for the category of Biochemistry (School), advances to MCSRC

  • MCSRC project recognized by Temple University School of Medicine Fels Institute for Cancer Research with the TUSM Fels Institute Outstanding Research Award

Founded the first H2O for Life Club at AJHS with AJHS Destination Imagination team (2016-2017)

Raised over $1,000 (over $2,000 matched) to build a tap system in Uganda that would bring clean water to a community and school.

Founded the Coding Club to advocate for computer science exposure in the school, including closing the gender gap in the community for computer science (Fall 2016)

Received Challenger Award from the Abington School District for outstanding scientific research

Project CS Girls Computer Science Competition

2016- 4th Place National Winner for project on Zika virus using Machine Learning

2015- Regional Finalist, Created an app to help children on the autism spectrum

Competed in Firefighter Robot Challenge robotics competition at Penn State Abington and earned first place in remote controlled group division (2013)

Briana: What is a challenge you've faced, related to coding/technology experiences? How did you overcome that challenge?

Sofiya: A challenge I have faced, related to technology experiences is information gaps that sometimes present themselves in independent projects, such as my most recent one in DNA robotics. The software I was trying to code for the DNA cascades was new, similarly to the field itself, and documentation and understanding how the program could be implemented was limited. It was challenging to determine how I could use it and how it could be properly implemented for my specific application and goal, but after much reading, learning, and discussing with my mentor, I was able to overcome the challenge and write a successful program that allowed the DNA robot to complete its classification with an over 90% accuracy!

Briana: What advice would you have for someone who was interested in technology, but was intimidated?

Sofiya: I would advise that they begin with small steps, such as exploring Khan Academy’s resources for coding or committing to any online course for coding or technology. In this case, if they are able to commit, they will find success in learning about the topic they may have previously been intimidated in. In addition, trying new things or tinkering with hardware such as an Arduino using a tutorial found online can be both rewarding and very informative.

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