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Antonia Kolb ’24 Taking Her App to Capitol Hill
Congressional Award

Research took a personal turn for Antonia Kolb ’24 when a life-threatening tick-borne infection revealed a lack of readily available information about such diseases. She decided to address the problem by developing an app to identify ticks and assess their risks. Two years, several accolades, and more than 600 Apple App Store downloads later, DETICKT IT was selected this month by Congressman Jim Himes as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Connecticut’s Fourth District.

“DETICKT IT is one-of-a-kind because it is the only tick app in the App Store that identifies a tick and gives a comprehensive, heuristic-based risk assessment using geospatial data and epidemiological data,” said Antonia, who is co-president of King’s Girls Advancing In STEM Club. “DETICKT IT allows users to take a photo of the tick they find. It immediately identifies the species and, based on the user's location, a tick risk is given, allowing users to seek medical assistance if they are bitten.”

Accurate risk analysis can expedite the diagnosis and prognosis of tick-borne diseases while offsetting the high cost and slow processing time of tick tests. 

In her research, Antonia found that previous studies using tick identification often had a margin of error that was too broad for diagnosis “For example, the Eastern Blackleggged Tick, the main carrier of Lyme disease, could be a carrier up to 50 percent of the time,” she said.

She sought to lessen the error of margin and found that adding the geographic location of the tick in question to the disease profile would increase the accuracy of the risk assessment. Using data from the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania, she was able to add data from 11 tick-borne diseases by state, improving the accuracy of the information available to the user.

Tick-borne diseases have plagued Connecticut for decades, with Lyme, Connecticut serving as the place the disease by that name was discovered in 1975. The Connecticut Department of Public Health reports about 3,000 cases yearly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the CDC estimates actual cases at ten times that number. DETICKT IT will be a powerful resource for the state’s residents. 

“Among many strong submissions, DETICK IT stood out, offering a critical tool to more effectively detect, diagnose, and treat tick-related illnesses,” said Himes, who will host Antonia as she presents her app on Capitol Hill in mid-April. “Congratulations to Antonia for her fantastic contribution.”


The accolades culminate years of work during which Antonia honed her research skills. She credits Dr. Victoria Schulman, King’s Director of Science Research, with guiding her as she developed those research skills by suggesting programs like iResearch Summer Institute, a virtual camp for science research training.

“In ninth grade, I approached Dr. Schulman with my DETICKT IT project,” Antonia said. “Even though I wasn't her student, she worked with me to develop my project further.”

In addition to the Congressional App Challenge, DETICKT IT won the Data Science and Bioinformatics category at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair. Her project manuscript was selected out of 400 submissions for publication by the prestigious Columbia Junior Science Journal.

“King has been incredibly supportive, and without Dr. Schulman, I would not be where I am today,” said Antonia.


In the News

Stamford Advocate: In tick-infested CT, a New Canaan teen invents an app to identify the blood-suckers

WICC 600: The Lisa Wexler Show – New App To Identify Ticks