Meet a future life-saving surgeon in the making!

According to The Gazette,  17-year-old Dasia Taylor has been named a Regeneron Science Talent Scholar after her development of color-changing sutures to detect infection.

A senior at Iowa City West High School, Taylor has often dreamt about becoming a surgeon. A few years ago, she was gifted a suture kit for Christmas which sparked her interest in learning how to make them more effective.

As her first science research opportunity outside of her traditional classes, Taylor made the decision to develop sutures that would change colors when a patient’s pH levels altered, in turn making it easier to point out an infection.

After conducting research for a year and focusing on the suitable material for the stitches along with learning how to work in a sterile environment to test bacteria, Taylor entered her project into the 80th annual Regeneron Science Talent Search. Out of the 1,760 students who applied, Taylor was named among the top 300 scholars.

“Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, just go with it,” said Taylor in an interview. “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.”

pH was the most intricate part of her studies as it is the central compound of wound healing. She knew that if she could successfully change the sutures with the pH, that it would help her to identify infection more quickly.

After a year of trial and error, Taylor decided to first enter her project into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in March 2020 and quickly learned that she was the only Black student in the running.

“Being in the room knowing stereotypes were flying and to be able to prove them wrong and win first place was phenomenal,” shared Taylor. “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.”

Now, Taylor’s sights are set upon being named one of the 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.