Vanessa Mahan, a senior in biological sciences at Missouri S&T from Kansas City, Missouri, has earned second place in a virtual “shark tank” style competition through the University of Missouri System’s Entrepreneur Quest (EQ) program.

For making it to the last round of competition, Mahan will receive an award and will also receive a business model and plan educational program; mentorship from executives, leaders, investors and subject matter experts; and opportunities to participate in pitch and demo competitions.

Mahan’s project, titled “Bionic Bowel,” combines biology studies with ceramic engineering ideas. The project uses bioactive glass as a way to potentially change the pH level in the body of a Crohn’s disease sufferer. By including the biomaterial in an oral medicine that dissolves and prevents scar tissue, Mahan realized that she could implant the glass in the human body via a pill to repair the damaged area.

The top three teams from each UM System campus competed against each other by pitching their ideas via remote video conferencing to panels of experts April 15-16. Originally, the teams were schedule to meet in-person to present projects to a panel of judges, but the spread of COVID-19 canceled those plans.

EQ teams come from a wide variety of academic programs in science, technology, engineering and math and represent students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. 

For more information about the competition, visit the EQ website at eq.umsystem.edu.