How did she do it?
The Purdue University sophomore was asked to find a mud sample for analysis in her introductory biotechnology class. Rather than collect mud from around the house like other students, Emilia remembered an interesting looking cave three hours from her home in Bedford, Indiana. After a boat ride along an underground river with a supportive friend, Emilia found a remote spot in the cave to scrape mud from its walls. Back in class, Emilia and her professor realized that this was no ordinary mud. It was glacial mud from the last ice age.
And the most exciting discovery?
The mud contained an unknown virus — a bacteriophage — which is harmless to humans but attacks bacteria that are antagonistic to humans. This Czyszczon1 bacteriophage attacks the family of bacteria responsible for Tuberculosis. And because Tuberculosis bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatments, this bacteriophage may provide a valuable form of alternative treatment. Emilia has already been given a grant to examine the Czyszczon1 genome. And yes, she’s 20.
Still think you’re too young to make a difference? Break out your pioneering spirit and think again!
Cheers to another Sturff Hero: Emilia Czyszczon