Biomedical research, from a patient's perspective

Incoming ASU freshman has unique view of medicine, having lived through treatments; her dream is to make them cheaper

Evangeline Taylor-Hermes ASU freshman

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2018 incoming ASU students.

Evangeline Taylor-Hermes is going to study medical research at Arizona State University because she’s been the subject of medical research.

Legally blind and albino, the incoming freshman has photophobia, which means she can’t see outside. Because of that, she has dealt with medical technologies her whole life.

“They’ve always been trying new machines out on me in order to study albinism more,” Taylor-Hermes said. “As a kid, my mom would always sign me up with developmental opthamologists in order to study the development of albinism, especially because I have a very rare form of it. Growing up I was always around those technologies and that’s what drew me to it. I always loved the medical field and I realized very early on I was not a patient person. I definitely was drawn to the engineering aspect of it. I think it’s a great way to still interact with the medical field. I get very attached to things, so working with patients wasn’t necessarily for me.”

At ASU she will major in biomedical engineering. Her goal is to work in prosthetics.

“I have family friends who unfortunately were born without limbs,” she said. “They were the ones who inspired me to look into this. I like the fact it combines so many disciplines. It’s mechanical engineering, it’s electrical, it’s biomedical, and they all kind of come together in order to make this field.”

From Parker, Arizona, she earned a full ride scholarship from the Flinn Foundation that includes study abroad. Each year the nonprofit funds undergraduate study at an Arizona public university for approximately 20 of Arizona’s highest-achieving high school seniors.

ASU Now talked to Taylor-Hermes about the upcoming school year, and what brought her to ASU.

Question: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

Answer: I’m definitely excited to meet all sorts of people. I came from a Native American reservation, so there’s not many people. I’m definitely excited to meet all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds and just get into it and make some friendships.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: With ASU I love talking about the Biodesign building. If you’ve ever been here on the weekends with the retinal scanners going, you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie. It’s so cool. I love telling my friends it’s like being a spy!

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I definitely am a big fan of cooperation. I’m very open-minded. I’m a disabled person going into a field that helps with medical research. I think that’s a fresh perspective that can really help scientists understand from the perspective of someone who has been through medical research. I think that’s what I mostly offer.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show right now?

A: I’m a big Star Trek fan, which I know is really nerdy. "Voyager"? If you put that on, I’ll watch it all the way through.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: Definitely learn as much as I can. That’s the main part of it. Flinn is a great opportunity to not only learn, but also to travel, and I’ve always had a passion for travel. I actually just went to Canada.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: I used to show dogs competitively. I did that all through middle school and high school because being legally blind ... sports ... things being thrown at your face is not necessarily the best thing. I took up dog showing and I showed standard dachshunds and German shepherds — the weinie dogs, and the big old German shepherds. Quite the mix.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I would definitely try to make drugs and materials cheaper, because I think a lot of times what happens now is that a lot of drug companies will hike up prices either because of monopolies or because of the fact that the materials are so expensive to produce. Personally I have a very severe nut allergy to peanuts, so I have something called an Epipen. Those are about $600 for a little injection. My main goal is to find a way to make life-saving treatments and things that can mitigate disabilities cheaper and more affordable to the public.

Q: What’s your prediction on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: ASU all the way!

Above photo: Incoming freshman Angie Taylor-Hermes poses with a sucrose gradient she helped design and program in Biodesign's Biomolecular Mechanics and Nanotechnology Lab, on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Though she hasn't started classes, the Flinn Scholar has been working in helping to produce a $300 device made with Lego Mindstorms EV3 and custom 3D-printed parts that performs the same function as a $6000 one. Taylor-Hermes intends to pursue a biomedical engineering degree. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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