The Del Mar College Natural Science Team is one of 10 national finalists to present their studies to Congress.
The students are among 10 teams selected from colleges across the country to participate in an intensive Innovation Boot Camp and move onto the final round in the Community College Innovation Challenge Addressing Societal Problems.
“I think we’ve got a great project; we have all put a lot of effort into this so we are really going to try our hardest to see if it will come out well,” team member John Ramirez said.
“We’re one of 10 finalists, so I know that all of the teams are going to be going are very well prepared, I feel that we are well prepared but it’s going to be some steep competition. As far as how it’s going to turn out in the end, I’m hopeful, I really am,” Ramirez said.
Professor of biology and team adviser John “Rob” Hatherill said he was proud of the team.
“It’s an excellent feeling to see them work so hard and then get recognized for that hard work. They really worked hard hours to put together the package for this competition and now they are recognized one of 10 nationally,” Hatherill said.
“To me it’s great working with students like that, that are so motivated and I can’t wait for the competition, it doesn’t get any better than this, because they get to present to the U.S. Congress.” Hatherill said.
Del Mar’s team was selected for their proposal to use viruses to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The team includes Danial Nasr, Ray Pray and Ramirez, who are all biotechnology majors in the Natural Science Department. Hatherill and Daisy Zhang are the leading professors behind the students and the program.
“Some of them are teaching assistants, so they’re working hard, they’ve gone on multiple internships and they understand research. One of them was adapt in video editing which is important because you need to have a professional video that you submit as part of the package for the competition and we got an excellent video because of that,” Hatherill said.
The students worked with a mentor faculty member and an industry partner to foster entrepreneur and professional skills.
“The students’ tireless dedication and access to a discovery-based research program that Dr. Daisy Zhang and I have implemented, Zhang and I started this research and the students really built up on it so we have been working in this project for 10 years,” Hatherill said.
The team’s project falls into the maker-to-manufacture category and is titled “Slowing Antibiotic Resistance with EnteroSword.” The project focuses on bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics treatment methods with the biotechnology team advocating the use of tailor-made viruses that target harmful bacteria without endangering humans.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us and we are very excited, we have spent countless hours in the lab and doing extra research so I feel that we are very prepared and I know we’ll do great,” Pray said.
Nasr said he was confident.
“We have a great plan and a very strong portion and design about what we are going to do. It was absolutely a group effort and we are very excited about the competition,” Nasr said.