“I made a lifesaving product in my parents’ garage.”
—Ruchi Shah, 22, Stony Brook University
“When I was 15, I went to India to visit my uncle. He was suffering from Dengue fever, a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Yet right outside the clinic, people were getting dozens of mosquito bites! So I decided to develop my own bug repellent. Back home I collected sweat samples from athletes at school (that wasn’t awkward at all) and, in a test chamber I built in our garage with supplies from Home Depot, studied exactly what most attracted the bugs. Then I set out to create a bug spray to neutralize those compounds. Hundreds of failed recipes—and bites—later, I found the winner. Mosquitoes Be Gone is the first repellent to neutralize nitrogen-based compounds in sweat. And it’s all-natural. I’m finalizing safety testing and bottle design, and it should be on shelves within a year. I’m proof anyone can ‘do science’; it’s OK to be a little nerdy and pursue your passion.”
—Shah, a biology major, is CEO of Mosquitoes Be Gone, an all-natural mosquito repellent to combat disease in third world countries; she has also been recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research for her research on improving cervical cancer diagnoses.
See all of the 2016 College Women of the Year »