Karen Mendelson

Inexpensive Fast Optical Method for Measuring Carbon Monoxide in Whole Blood

Karen Mendelson

Worcester, MA
Age 16

Karen Mendelson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Massachusetts when she was two years old. At the age of three, Karen’s nursery school teacher told Mrs. Mendelson to buy some books for her because she was already starting to read on her own.

In 10th grade, Karen read about victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. This often occurs when fuels are burned in enclosed spaces and can cause flu-like symptoms, often resulting in death. Karen’s battery-powered invention can quickly diagnose carbon monoxide poisoning by measuring light transmission through blood that is drawn from a pin prick.

Karen's device won 2nd place at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in 1997, and has been featured on MSNBC, NBC Today, as well as in Business Week and Popular Mechanics.

The next year, she won 1st place at the Intel Science & Engineering Fair for inventing a device that can measure hemoglobin without drawing blood from the patient.

Karen is one of only two students from the U.S. invited to visit Stockholm for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prizes. Karen plans to attend college and earn a Ph.D. in medical research.