Four years ago, Austin native Rebekah Scheuerle was a freshman with a plan.
There are a lot of cool technologies out there that people have already developed, but if you can find a way to apply it in a better fashion, you can increase its availability."
Scheuerle, who developed an interest in science and engineering in middle and high school, set her sights on working for Nicholas Peppas, a pioneer in the field of oral drug delivery.
It didn't take long for the chemical engineering major to earn a coveted spot working in her desired mentor's lab where she collaborated with chemical and biomedical engineering researchers studying nanoparticles used for oral drug delivery to treat health issues like Crohn's disease and intestinal cancer.
Along the way, Rebekah found time to be president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for two years, hold offices and memberships in the engineering and chemical engineering honor societies, and played with the Longhorn Band.
What's next? Rebekah is heading across the pond, to the University of Cambridge, to attack world health issues as a graduate student and researcher. Earlier this year, she received the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, given to only 39 American students this year. The award will fund her graduate research, which is focused on developing affordable, efficient and novel therapeutics to fight diseases.
"It's been exciting," Scheuerle said. "I came to UT, and have had so many opportunities and mentors. Dr. Peppas, as well as a number of other chemical engineering professors, graduate students and peers have been so supportive." One day, Scheuerle hopes to develop practical and affordable biopharmaceuticals and diagnostics that can be used in developing countries and other resource-limited environments.