Robert Jean-Gilles Studies Novel Possibility

Robert Jean-Gilles studied how octopus genes can help the military

August 02, 2017

Robert Jean-Gilles can act, sing and dance, but that just scratches the surface of the teenager’s many talents. He has amazing research skills, too.

The rising sophomore won an award for his National History Day dramatic performance project and he also conducted innovative science research, studying how octopus genes can improve the United States military.

Robert Jean-Gilles
Huntington High School
sophomore Robert Jean-Gilles.

“In the near future, I am hoping to create a new military uniform with the abilities of an octopus,” wrote Mr. Jean-Gilles in an abstract for a science research project he developed as a freshman. “With the new suits, the military would apply the features to help us civilians. The military is working their hardest on the frontlines and I believe they should get all the help they deserve.”

The Huntington teenager believes those serving on the battlefront need an “upgrade” and he wants to provide them with it. “If this were to be something big, then combat technique would be efficient and easy to take down our enemies,” said Mr. Jean-Gilles about the octopus inspired suits he would like to create. “The suit would mimic the abilities of an octopus. The gloves would be touch sensitive and have a tight grasp on objects. The spray included in the suit would be used to distract the enemy.”

Mr. Jean-Gilles said the main feature of the uniform he wants to create “will be its ability to change color and shape. The suit will flash colors and can camouflage with the environment just with a click of a button.”

The teenager’s project exposed the common octopus to different “unnatural” materials to determine their stress level responses. He recorded their color patterns and then selected specific colors for future use with his project.

“The research can further develop scientist’s understanding of cephalopod behavior and applications that can be used in everyday activities,” Mr. Jean-Gilles said.

The incoming sophomore will resume his participation in the high school’s science research program when classes kickoff in September.