Student Profile:
Taylor Sands, Chemical Engineering

Mines chemical engineering senior Taylor Sands faced the twelve-year-old twins and their mother. The word, unspoken, blanketed the air. Cancer. Both girls had it, ovarian stage four. Still reeling from the diagnosis, these children had forty-eight hours before treatment began to decide if they ever wanted kids of their own. For $25,000, they could receive estrogen shots to force ovulation, their eggs harvested and frozen for a monthly fee. 

The risk is enormous. With hormone-fueled cancers like ovarian, estrogen enlarges the tumor, and as one child’s ovary had been removed in emergency surgery, the mother asked if her sister could donate for two. Working with a gynecological oncologist, Sands guided them to a decision. 

She was an intern at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Asked to make a fertility decision aid for cancer patients, Sands developed software to scour online forums for means of helping patients decide among adoption, freezing, gestational carriers, and in vitro fertilization. Now back on campus, she’s writing a paper on her research to be jointly published with the center—which has extended both a standing offer of employment and medical school recommendation.