Diversity in science matters to breakthroughs. When more scientists with varied backgrounds and experiences fill laboratories and collaborate on teams, outcomes in innovation and discovery surpass those of less diverse scientific groups, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)….
PurpleSun Rises – Luis Romo ’10, G’12, Bioengineering
Luis Romo ’10, G’12 is shining a new light on infection—literally. His company, PurpleSun, uses light-based technology to prevent infections in health care settings.
Since its founding on the Syracuse University campus in 2011, the company has won business plan competitions, gained funding, garnered the attention of the Obama White House, and secured a partnership with Northwell Health—the twelfth largest health care system in the United States. It bloomed from a startup he launched with fellow alum and current University of Pittsburgh professor, Tagbo Niepa ’09, G’14, after taking an entrepreneurial course as an undergrad.
As students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Romo and Niepa devised a product that bombarded doorknobs with ultraviolet light—killing 99 percent of the bacteria on their surface. Today, PurpleSun produces a portable paneling system that can effectively and rapidly disinfect entire hospital rooms. Through hard work and determination, Romo and Niepa extended their success as students into success in industry with the help of angel investors, knowledgeable advisors, and the filing of patents.
In addition to begin an inventor, Romo was a founding member of the Student Philanthropy Council, participated in community outreach with the Syracuse University Catholic Center and the East Syracuse Church Mission, and served as program director and interim director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
He also shadowed a cardiac surgeon at nearby Upstate Medical University Hospital—an experience he sought out independently to learn what it was like on the front lines of health care. “I just dropped by his office one day and asked for the opportunity,” says Romo. “No one set it up for me. I just made a choice to explore.”
Romo’s success can be attributed to his aptitude for recognizing and seizing opportunities such as this. He took his interest in health care and his passion for bringing new ideas and technologies to life, built on them with the resources at hand, and applied them to a goal. He also credits his communications skills and his bioengineering degrees.
“As a student, I was involved in many things—inside and outside of engineering,” says Romo. “Each thing was a puzzle piece that plays a critical role in what I can do now. I encourage current and prospective students to take advantage of everything Syracuse University has to offer. It’s all there. You just have to be willing to take it.”