Meet Isaiah Young ’22, an environmental monitoring technician and a part of the wastewater testing team. Learn about his team’s work with COVID testing, the lessons from his job and what popular artist he jams out to in the lab.
How long have you been at UNC Charlotte?
I completed my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in May 2022. I have been on staff ever since, so this is currently my sixth year at UNC Charlotte, five as a student and one as an employee.
Can you describe your role at UNC Charlotte?
As an environmental monitoring technician, I aid in the completion of the Campus Monitoring Project where we collect wastewater from campus buildings and test it for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. This was extremely useful during the height of the pandemic, as we were able to detect positive cases before students showed any symptoms. This project continues to be effective as we closely monitor positivity rates on campus. I am responsible for the processing team where we take the raw wastewater samples and extract the RNA. We then complete the PCR test to determine whether the samples are positive for COVID.
What is something people may not know about being a laboratory technician?
I was surprised how much teamwork and collaboration laboratory technicians utilize. I always had the assumption that technicians were stuck doing lab work under the bio-hood alone for hours, never seeing the light of day. However, I have learned so much from undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students as well as working closely with the amazing professors of UNC Charlotte.
What is one of the projects you’ve worked on?
A new project that my lab has been working on is collecting wastewater samples from surrounding counties and testing them for COVID. We currently work with four counties and their wastewater treatment plants. The data we are able to give the counties allows them to get an idea of the positivity rates of COVID within their county and are able to make educated decisions that protect the safety of their communities.
What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Being on the Campus Monitoring Project since October 2020, I have been able to see this team grow from the ground up. We started with a few professors and some students. This project quickly grew to a multitude of staff and faculty members with the assistance of students from the College of Computing and Informatics, the William States Lee College of Engineering and The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. We have gained recognition from both local news (WBTV) and national news (NBC News NOW). It has been so rewarding to witness this team and grow into something so large and noteworthy.
What's a fun fact about you many people may not know?
A fun fact that I actually think many people know about me is that I am a huge Swiftie. Many days, you can hear Taylor Swift playing out of my office, and I have a two- by three-foot poster of Taylor in my office just in case anyone needs a reminder. So excited to see her on tour in April!
In addition to the Charlotte 49ers, do you have any other favorite sports teams?
As a volleyball player, I watch a good amount of women’s college volleyball. My two favorite teams are the Wisconsin Badgers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers! The 2021 National Championship Game between the two teams is one of the best volleyball matches ever, in my opinion.
Who in your life inspires you the most?
I would have to say my dad is the person who inspires me the most. Being an immigrant, he was presented with the challenge of coming to a new country. He worked hard throughout college and medical school to become a successful doctor. He continuously inspires me to always treat others with kindness and to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I strive to have the patience my dad has for each and every person. I know that I am in the position I am in today because of my dad’s hard work, dedication and love for me.