Hayley Todesco, 2016 Finalist

Hayley Todesco, 2016 Finalist

AGE: 19
HOMETOWN: Calgary, AB (Treaty No. 7)

At her lab bench, Hayley examines pollutants found in tailing ponds in an attempt to find methods of biodegradation for these compounds. She is driven to address water pollution in the environment after an incident that changed her life.

When Hayley was only 10 years old, she received an eye-opening message about the state of our planet. After watching the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” she found that the underlying message of the film -- global warming isn’t something that is going to go away and we must address it -- resonated with her. She had not contemplated it before, but now understood why people needed to compost and recycle. The planet had always been there for Hayley -- it was time for her to return the favour.

From that moment onwards, she devoted her time to finding ways to clean up the earth. At school, Hayley was gifted in the sciences so she began working on projects designed to clean up the earth. There were many science fairs in her city. Passionate and dedicated, Hayley entered herself into every single one of those science fairs, pushing herself to create better and innovative designs that would benefit the environment.

Hayley Todesco, 2016 Finalist

Hayley Todesco, 2016 Finalist

At 16, Hayley developed a filtering system that tackled the water pollution issues from the oil sands. Instead of creating something that would break down the pollutants, Hayley’s solution utilized bacteria already in the water. Hayley successfully found a way for bacteria to break down toxic pollutants much faster than man-made designs.

Hayley was interviewed by local and national news, and her project was broadcast to the world. Hayley’s accomplishments push her to keep trying to make her filters even better to help clean up the environment.

Hayley has been invited to speak on various media outlets as well as at conferences. There, she encourages youth to pursue science and raises awareness for environmental issues. She hopes to inspire young people, encouraging them to help the environment.

So what does Hayley plan to do now? She continues to find ways to better her filtering project with the help of an environmental microbiology lab. Looking into the future, Hayley anticipates that she will have a long journey ahead of her. But she knows that she has a bright future in discovering new ideas and solutions to environmental issues in order to make a difference.


  • In 2014, Hayley was chosen to go to the Google Science Fair as the local winner. She became one of the fifteen global finalists and won in her age category.

  • Last spring, Hayley was chosen to speak at the Generate Youth Energy Education Summit and Atlanta Science Festival, where she shared her story and project and promoted environmental awareness to her peers.

  • Hayley has won numerous scholarships and awards for her efforts in solving environmental issues including the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for the world’s top water-related science project and Canada’s 2015 Top 20 under 20 Award.

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