Biochemist, Sharon, Massachusetts

When Alynne MacLean worked at a biotechnology company (Biogen), she was picked for a new position over a male candidate. But then a year later, when another spot opened up, the same candidate was hired for significantly more money. “Staying at the company and being angry about this was not an option,” said MacLean. “I had to decide to change jobs or to choose to not let it bother me so I could enjoy my work. I chose to stay and enjoy my job.”

Today, she runs Science with a Mission Inc. (SMI), a nonprofit that assembles rapid medical diagnostics for diseases like HIV and malaria that work in low resource settings. “Our diagnostics have many advantages: They do not require electricity—so after an earthquake in Haiti or typhoon flooding in the Philippines, they still work,” said MacLean. “You do not need specialized training to ‘read’ the results—grandmothers in Nepal have been taught to use our malaria tests.”

Image: Jonathan Bartlett

The low-cost tests give results in minutes, have a long shelf life, and do not need to be refrigerated.

MacLean explained how it works: “Sometimes when you are sick, you have something in your blood that is not present when you are well. We call this a disease marker. If we can prove that someone has a particular disease marker, we know what disease they have so we can get them the right medicine.”

She credits her faith with determining the trajectory of her career. “(God) is the one who gave me a passion and joy for science, but he is also the one that instilled in me a heart for his people in the poorest parts of our world,” she said.