Local student wins prestigious international award

St. Patrick’s Student Annabelle Rayson Wins Top Prize at International Water Awards Ceremony in Stockholm. (August 30, 2022. (screenshot)

A Grade 12 student from Sarnia’s St. Patrick’s High School has won the top prize at an international water awards ceremony in Stockholm.

Annabelle Rayson represented Canada on Tuesday by receiving the prestigious 2022 Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

“Personally, it’s an absolute honour to be able to represent all of the small town little girls out there, especially if they’re from Canada,” said Rayson during her acceptance speech. “Quite often it’s very hard to get access to research materials, information, and mentors. So to be able to say, ‘hey you’re from a small area, you can still make it on one of the largest stages in the world for water science,’ is incredible!”

Rayson was chosen as the winner among 36 international entries.

The international award comes shortly after Rayson was recognized in May at the Canada-Wide Science Fair for her project Plankton Wars: An Innovative Analysis of Daphnia Genotype Biomanipulation for Algae Bloom Prevention.

During her speech, Rayson also highlighted the importance of women and girls being involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“Quite often we don’t see a lot of us out there so I am very proud to be standing up here to represent any little girl at home who dreams of having her microscope and lab coat,” she said.

The panel of international judges called Rayson’s research a “potential solution for a multi-faceted global problem”.

“This is absolutely outstanding recognition for a very enthusiastic, committed, and inspiring student,” said Scott Johnson, director of education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board. “Well done Annabelle!”

As for the next steps, Rayson said she hopes to increase research in regard to invasive species. She said a dream of hers is to work with the International Institute for Sustainable Development at the Experimental Lakes Area in Kenora, Ont.

Rayson will return home later this week and will then travel to an international science fair in the Netherlands in September.