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Science / Tech

Colleen Costello

The Scientist on a Mission to Zap Germs for Good

For Colleen Costello, what started as a college project has become a business of infection-fighting technology. She’s the scientist, co-founder and CEO behind Vital Vio, which creates LED lights that kill up to 99 percent of bacteria including MRSA, E. coli and salmonella (and as of September 1, are now available in select Home Depot stores). All that, and she’s not even 30 yet.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“The most pivotal moment was when I was studying biomedical engineering in college and got the news that my grandmother had contracted a MRSA infection during what was to be a brief hospital stay. Thankfully she recovered, but her experience opened my eyes to how pervasive and dangerous the problem of infection is. That experience set me on my current path as co-founder and CEO of health tech company Vital Vio.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“I would like to say it was scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final, but in fact it was deciding to find a better way to combat germs, and in just five years building the team that has found a safe solution with our continuously disinfecting LEDs. I take pride in the fact that our VioSafe technology is now keeping places like ambulances, food trucks and hospitals safer, as well as empowering homeowners to add a layer of protection by going online or into stores to purchase lights powered by our germ-killing technology. People are amazed that lights can safely kill germs, but it works!”

What are you most grateful for?

“I am grateful for my family and my health, of course. But I also am mindful, and grateful that I live in a time and place where a woman under 30 can take an idea, develop a new technology, and grow it into a company, and in doing so, make the world a little safer.”

What advice do you have for other women working toward their own dreams?

“No excuses. As it says on the plaque on my desk: ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’”

Snack food you can’t live without?

“In theory carrots, apples, walnuts, but in fact airplane pretzels, because I am traveling all of the time.”

Desert island question: If you could bring only three things, what would they be?

“Boat, oar and lifejacket. I learned early, it is all about being prepared to weather storms.”

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