One of the MacArthur Foundation’s latest genius grants has been awarded to Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a professor at Rice University who has co-founded a hands-on engineering training program which challenges undergraduates to solve medical problems in the developing world. The grant is $625,000. Richards-Kortum says she challenges students to design new medical devices and technologies that can actually be put into practice in low-resource settings. A device developed by one of her students to help premature babies breathe, for example, is now used in 19 countries. So far, the lab holds 29 patents for work they’ve developed.
In announcing Richards-Kortum as one of this year’s 23 fellows, the MacArthur Foundation noted her commitment to “improving access to quality health care for all the world’s people. Richards-Kortum is not only developing novel solutions but also training and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to address our shared global challenges.” Richards-Kortum and her students work in partnership with The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi which regularly faces power outages.
As I heard the story of this doctor (who, by the way, is also the mother of six and a marathon runner!), I thought again about the power of one! If each of us dedicates our passion and gifts and perseverance to the Kingdom of God, what mighty works could be accomplished. We don’t have to be genius professors in medical schools. We don’t have to have world-wide influence. We just need to put the power of one behind our own special dream.
Marilyn MacEntyre says it well: “If we realized, even now and then, how securely we are held in God’s arms, if we could meditate on Jesus’ words not to fear anything that destroys the body, we might occasionally look around and recognize in our worldly habitat a playground of possibilities” (From Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. Sept./Oct. 2006).
What is your playground?