17-Year-Old Honored For Creating Color-Changing Sutures That Detect In – BOTWC

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17-Year-Old Honored For Creating Color-Changing Sutures That Detect Infection

17-Year-Old Honored For Creating Color-Changing Sutures That Detect Infection

She's saving lives one stitch at a time!

A 17-year-old was named a Regeneron Science Talent Scholar after developing color-changing sutures to detect infection, The Gazette reports.

Dasia Taylor is a senior at Iowa City West High School who was once interested in becoming a surgeon. A few years ago, she received a suture kit for Christmas, piquing her interest in making them more effective. In her first science research opportunity outside of traditional classes, Taylor decided to develop sutures that would change color if the patient's pH level alters, making it easier to indicate infection. 

She entered her project into the 80th annual Regeneron Science Talent Search, and was named among the top 300 scholars this year out of 1,760 students. Taylor said she researched for a year, focusing on the suitable material for the stitches and learning how to work in a sterile environment to test bacteria. She even had to learn the proper way to put on a glove, something she did not know before. 

"Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, just go with it,” Taylor told reporters. “I stand by the idea that I stumbled into STEM by way of intellectual curiosity. Be curious, because that will afford you so many opportunities."

The most pertinent part of her studies was the PH, a central component of wound healing. Taylor knew if she could color change the sutures with the PH, she would help identify infection more quickly. After a year of trial and error, Taylor first entered her project into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in March 2020, quickly realizing she was the only Black student present.

"Being in the room knowing stereotypes were flying and to be able to prove them wrong and win first place was phenomenal. My mom and I talk about it all the time. I often find myself in white-dominated spaces. That's definitely one for the books," Taylor told the Gazette

Now, she is on track to being named one of 40 finalists who will receive $25,000 and participate in the final competition in March for the grand prize of $250,000 as a Regeneron Science Talent Scholar. She credits her high school's support in helping her get this far since they provided her with the bacteria for testing. She hopes her color-changing sutures will eventually be used in developing countries to save even more lives and cut down on costs, treating infections early with antibiotics. 

"I'm a firm believer (that) you don't have to be confined to a box and just stay in one subject area. You can bounce around. If you're interested in it, go for it," Taylor said.

Congratulations, Dasia!

Photo Courtesy of Liz Martin/The Gazette