After winning a state science fair and becoming a finalist in a national competition, Dasia Taylor now has her sights set on a patent

By Theresa Machemer

Dasia Taylor has juiced about three dozen beets in the last 18 months.

The root vegetables, she’s found, provide the perfect dye for her invention: suture thread that changes color, from bright red to dark purple, when a surgical wound becomes infected.

The 17-year-old student at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, began working on the project in October 2019, after her chemistry teacher shared information about state-wide science fairs with the class.

Dasia Taylor.jpg
Seventeen-year-old Dasia Taylor was named one of 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the country’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. (Courtesy of Society for Science)

After a year of research, the 17-year-old is working on getting her sutures patented. She envisions these sutures being used in developing countries where they can save lives and money.

Dasia’s sutures work by changing color if the patients pH level alters, indicating an infection.

PH is one of the most prevalent parts of wound healing, Dasia said. It changes very quickly, so it’s one of the fastest ways to identify infection.

Infections could be treated early with antibiotics instead of surgery.

When Dasia entered her project into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in March 2020, she realized she was the only Black student in the room.

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

“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.”

After five minutes under an infection-like pH, the cotton-polyester thread changes from bright red to dark purple. (Courtesy of Society for Science)
After three days, the purple fades to light gray. (Courtesy of Society for Science)

Being named a top 300 finalist for the Regeneron Science Talent Search is “phenomenal,” Dasia said.

“I wanted to conduct research. I didn’t think I was going to get this far,” Dasia recalled. “This was really a chance for me to branch out and use my creativity.

“I love my project, and to find out that it was working and to get the results I did, I was over the moon.”

More on THE SMITHSONIAN

close

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here