Maryellie Ramler, a sophomore bio-engineering major at UCLA, has a big idea. She’s been designing a life-changing solution for individuals with diabetes – and the device could have huge benefits for thousands of people. As a River Valleys alumna, Maryellie says the community, opportunities, and support she gained in Girl Scouts inspired her to seek a future in STEM.
Through her research, Maryellie found that tens of thousands of people each year are afflicted with foot ulcers caused by diabetes. Although there’s a well-documented prevention method, it requires a doctor’s visit every 3-4 weeks, which can be costly in time and money. As a result, many diabetics develop holes in their feet called ulcers that can lead to amputation if they get seriously infected. Maryellie’s device uses a new technological capability she’s developed that mimics the doctors’ prevention method, but could be used by the individual. Her device would be the only safe, at-home prevention method out there.
In January, Maryellie’s hard work and research landed her a spot as a finalist in a UCLA STEM design competition.
Currently, Maryellie has a concept for the device and will start building prototypes to test her design. She is pursuing resources for a patent to protect the idea.
Maryellie attributes much of her interest in bio-engineering to her experiences as a River Valleys Girl Scout. Through her troop, she found a community of like-minded girls who “were surviving the same classes,” says Maryellie. They could chat about cool things in chemistry or interesting scientific discoveries. Girl Scouts also provided access to scientific opportunities, like a tour of a nuclear plant and chemistry experiment events. And as a volunteer with the Wayzata Service Unit Day Camp, she found that camp leaders supported her to design STEM-focused camp curriculum.
Furthermore, Maryellie says that Girl Scouts helped prepare her for college in general by giving her opportunities to develop planning, teamwork, and leadership skills. Even during troop camping trips, she found her independence and passion for planning.
Maryellie has some solid advice for girls who would like to pursue STEM:
You can do it! If you are interested in something like astrophysics, engineering, or coding – you should go for it. You don’t have to be a genius to understand science. You just have to work hard until you do understand. People will want to help you if they see how excited you are and how hard you are willing to work.
To learn more about Maryellie’s design, view her video from the FutureX Student Challenge.