Irnela Bajrovic, a senior majoring in biochemistry, is collaborating on research that could transform the future of Ebola prevention. She has gained wide recognition for her research on an oral method of vaccine delivery, which could help vaccinate larger populations in arid climates, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. After she completes her graduate studies, she plans to pursue a career at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Born to build… Bajrovic discovered her love for science back in seventh grade when she was engrossed in a classroom project that involved constructing a rollercoaster track for marbles. “Creating this project from scratch using things I had around the house made me realize that we are born to build – and we should build in any which way that we can. Science seemed like the best way for me to do that.”
A difficult journey…Born in Bosnia during a civil war, Bajrovic’s family moved to the United States when she was two years old. “Coming here was pretty difficult. My parents didn’t speak any English. It was hard for them to find work, and they were practically incapable of helping my sister and I with schoolwork and preparing for our futures.”
Seizing opportunities…While at UT Austin, she took full advantage of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Program, which connects undergrads with graduate students and internship opportunities. After winning the IE Kuhn Scholarship, Bajrovic traveled to the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists conference, where she collaborated with fellow scientists and presented her research.
Embracing change… She encourages everyone to push against their comfort zones, overcome their fears and never give up on their dreams—no matter how far-fetched they may seem. “Most people don’t realize that everybody is scared of change, but you can’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals and accomplishing something amazing.”