Emma Markowitz lives on the remote island of Trevett off the coast of Boothbay, Maine. A homeschooled senior, Emma also takes classes through her local public high school. The teen expects to graduate in June 2023.
Emma’s early years of Waldorf education encouraged her to develop a love for nature while thinking critically and applying learning to real-life situations. She grew to become a dedicated and determined researcher.
Markowitz wrote on her Linkedin page, “”
Activities and societies in which Emma participates include the National Honor Society, Interact Club, German Club, Cross Country Team, Student Council, and she also served as Class Vice President.
Markowitz had the privilege of sitting on the Maine Department of Education’s student cabinet for two consecutive years (December 2019 – March 2021), where she represented over 35,000 students in her county. Emma was told that her application stood out because of her diverse educational experiences. “They said they thought that I’d be valuable to have on the team.”
During her time on the student cabinet, she co-founded an anti-racism group and helped to initiate positive social change throughout the Maine public school system. Emma told the Boothbay Register:
“I was really excited because I’d never really been a part of something like that … It was so great to be in a room with so many kids who are inspired and ready for change and I was impressed with how many kids were on the same page I was.”
When it comes to the world of science, Emma Markowitz is following in her parents’ footsteps. She told News Center Maine, “I’ve always picked up my mom’s microbiology books and studied seawater samples under my microscope at home.”
Emma also grew up around beehives, learning about colonies and honey with her father. This led Markowitz to wonder if certain strains of honey, already packed with antimicrobials, could be a natural alternative to antibiotics.
In ninth grade, the young scientist began researching natural methods to combat antibiotic resistance. According to the World Health Organization, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”
Emma researched a variety of honeys originating from different nectars, and found that “Manuka honey was the best at inhibiting certain bacterial strains.”
Through her groundbreaking research, Emma Markowitz could be changing the way infections are treated, starting with horses’ hooves.
“I was initially looking to help diabetics, specifically diabetic ulcers, with honey, but I did not have access to humans,” she said. “So I turned to what I did have access to, which was horses.”
Emma’s research led her to develop a natural alternative to sometimes overused antibiotics in the agricultural industry. She focused her science project on healing white line disease, which can lead to deformities in horses’ hooves.
“I separated my horses into two categories: the ones who didn’t have the [Manuka honey] products and the ones who did have the product. The ones who did saw improvements within weeks,” Emma said.
Honors & Awards
Emma Markowitz has had the privilege of presenting her scientific findings at the state, national and international levels. Her research on treating equine hoof disease by applying Manuka honey and poly-wrap won the following awards:
- 1st Place Maine State Science Fair Animal Science Category (March 2022)
- 2nd Place Grand Award Winner Maine State Science Fair (March 2022)
- 2nd Place Oral Presenter Northern New England Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (March 2022)
- 2nd Place Grand Award Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Animal Science Category (May 2022)
Emma has since expanded her research to combating bacterial biofilms and creating a treatment for chronic wound infections. She set up a GoFundMe page to raise the funds she needs to purchase much of her own lab equipment, chemicals and supplies.
Emma’s participation in the prestigious Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest high school science competition, led to offers for her to join research projects at colleges throughout New England.
Emma Markowitz is now working as an intern at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Before that, she interned at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, where she conducted in vitro sensitivity testing in Dr. José Fernández Robledo’s lab.
Emma said, “These experiences have been truly inspiring, introducing me to new technologies and spurring new ideas.”
“I just want everyone to know that even if you’re homeschooled and you don’t have the resources available in your community, you can definitely reach out, and there are so many people willing to help.”