“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

COVID-19 was not my first experience with deadly viral outbreaks.

I was born in Macau and lived through the 2002 SARS epidemic. During the epidemic, my mother, a doctor, volunteered to serve on the frontlines, tirelessly treating an endless number of patients. After school, I remember helping out in whatever way I could, such as organizing medical supplies and lab results at our family clinic.

I come from a family of doctors, and I am the first to break this family tradition. Even though I have taken a different career path, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps in the battle against COVID-19. As a chemical engineer, I designed the process to manufacture Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. I developed new technologies to improve how vaccines are manufactured and shortened production time in half for Operation Warp Speed.

My mother’s selfless actions during the SARS epidemic continue to inspire me. I want to reshape how vaccines and pharmaceuticals are manufactured and bring these life-saving products to patients more quickly and cheaply. From SARS to COVID-19 and beyond, I want to use my skills and education to help frontline workers, like my mother, in the fight against diseases.

— Albert Chiu