Elif Bilgin may have received a few strange looks while purchasing bananas in droves — only the ones that met her specifications, of course — but this precocious teen is on a mission to save the planet.

Advertisement
In 2013, Elif won the $50,000 Scientific American "Science in Action" award, which is part of the Google Science Fair, for her groundbreaking and eco-conscious work. Inspired by her bustling home city of Istanbul, Turkey, Elif was determined to find a way to reduce worldwide pollution. Through two years of extensive research, the then 16-year-old devised a way to turn ordinary banana peels into a bioplastic alternative to petroleum-based plastic. 

Now 18, Elif is currently a senior in high school. According to Innovation Convention, part of the Innovation Union flagship initiative, she is a diligent student both at Koç High School and the Istanbul Science and Art Center. After high school, she plans to pursue a career in medicine.