Highlights from BYU colleges: Construction management awards $48k in scholarships, scientists develop superbug testing

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering 

BYU scientists develop faster superbug testing

BYU professors Richard Robison, Adam Woolley, Aaron Hawkins and William Pitt developed a life-saving superbug testing method that works in under an hour. (Claire Moore/BYU Photo)

A team of BYU professors developed a superbug testing method that works in less than one hour, saving lives and improving treatment methods. Richard Robison, Adam Wolley, Aaron Hawkins and William Pitt, specializing in molecular biology, chemistry, integrated optics and chemical processing, respectively, created a DNA-extracting method that can identify bacteria in under an hour. In comparison, current superbug testing methods take at least 24 hours which leads to irreversible damage or death for sufferers. This new research will help to save lives, improve well-being, and keep doctors from misusing valuable antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacteria. The next step is to take the technology to the market by making it easily distributable to hospitals. 

“That was always our goal, to do it in an hour, so it’s quite exciting that we’ve been able to combine all of our efforts and hit that benchmark,” Hawkins said. “Every hour the disease is untreated, survivability drops by about 7%. You want to know what you’re fighting immediately so you can apply the right treatments.”


Construction management awards $48k in scholarships

Battssagaan Ilch and Savannah Taylor were two of 22 BYU construction management students to receive scholarships from the Industry Advisory Council. (Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering)

Forty-eight thousand dollars in scholarship money went to 22 BYU construction students this year from the Construction Management Industry Advisory Council (IAC). The IAC has hosted events generating donation money and networking opportunities in past years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no events were held this year, but the IAC and other construction businesses still donated money to support involved and well-rounded students. Typical years generate $20k or $30k, but this year’s fundraising yielded $48k to be distributed.

Two exceptional students who received IAC scholarships are Battsagaan Ilch and Savannah Taylor. Ilch is from Mongolia and is a senior in the construction management program at BYU. Ilch has enjoyed varied experiences in construction already and has dedicated his life to improving the construction leadership in Mongolia. 

Savannah Taylor is the president of the National Association of Home Builders student chapter and serves as the Women in Construction club’s vice president. Taylor combines her internationally recognized musical talents with her passion for construction. One such example is a performing arts building she got to design. Taylor hopes to encourage more women to join the construction industry and to someday teach at BYU.


Marriott School of Business

MBA Alumna launches company during pandemic

Ruchika Goel, right, is pictured with her husband, Anup. Goel started a company helping MBA students around the world. (Ruchika Goel)

A recent BYU Marriott School of Business MBA alumna took risks to start her own company during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Ruchika Goel, who grew up in India, moved to Utah in January 2015 to be with her husband. She made the goal to earn her MBA from BYU and became involved with the university’s MBA Sherpa program that pairs second-year students, or sherpas, with first-years, or climbers.

This mentorship program helps new students find internships and guides them in their experiences. Goel’s experiences as a sherpa helped her realize how much she enjoyed helping MBA students. Get On The Raft, Goel’s company, provides MBA students around the world with support and mentoring and launched in August 2020. Goel explained she helps students “bring their whole selves to the job search process and feel comfortable in their own skin.”

“I have learned that if we choose to see challenges as an opportunity to do something amazing, we are much better off,” Goel said. “Whether it was my move from India to a country I had never been to before or starting a company amid the biggest pandemic in this century, optimism is the key to success.”


College of Life Sciences

Student’s BYU research experiences prepared him for Yale

BYU alum Jacob Mabey (’20) participated in research at BYU that prepared him to study at Yale. (Jacob Mabey)

A student’s great research experiences at BYU launched him into studying at Yale School of Medicine. Jacob Mabey, now a first-year student at Yale, wrote two research papers and co-authored two others before graduating from BYU this year. Mabey credited his preparation and research skills to the mentorship of BYU faculty, especially exercise science professor Lance Davidson.

Davidson and Mabey worked with a group studying chronic metabolic disease where Mabey had the chance to work as a team leader. Mabey’s resultant papers were published in the large-reaching journal “Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.” Mabey’s future ambitions include studying interventional radiology and surgery. Davidson called Mabey “extraordinary” and a “productive collaborator and colleague.” 

“It was a great impetus to really stretch myself,” Mabey said of being a team leader. “Those studies really motivated me to use what I learned to do better next time. They gave me an eye toward future research.”

BYU ranks fifth in America for students who go on to earn Ph.D.s, largely because of its mentored research opportunities; a third of BYU undergraduates are involved in research.


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