A pitch for a color-coded needle system earned Juliet Petillo ’22 and her teammates first-place honors in a social innovation competition sponsored by the Honors College at Rutgers–New Brunswick. Their entry, which the team named Eleftheria, bested more than 50 others to earn the top prize in the contest, which challenged Honors College students to develop a project proposal that would help to improve the lives of others. Petillo is a PharmD candidate at the School of Pharmacy.

The proposed system would alert heroin users to the presence of fentanyl, a commonly added substance that can cause overdose, via testing needles that change color. A second component of the project is a continuous opioids buy-back program to lower the risk of new addictions. After considering the pitch presentations of 12 finalists, a panel of judges from business and academia was persuaded to award the top spot to Eleftheria.

Joining Petillo on the team were Timothy Topolski ’22 of the School of Engineering and Daniel Goldin ’22 of the School of Arts and Sciences. All three are first-year students in the Honors College, a living-learning community on the College Avenue Campus that brings together the highest-achieving students across several Rutgers–New Brunswick liberal arts and sciences and professional schools, including the School of Pharmacy.

Advising the team were Pedro Cesar Lopes Gerum, a graduate fellow in industrial and systems engineering, and Anne Hong, a learning assistant.

Winning Project

First Place: EleftheriaEleftheria Project

A color-coded needle system designed to warn heroin users about the presence of Fentanyl, a commonly added substance that causes overdoses, coupled with a continuous opioids buy-back program to help curb new addicts.

Projected created by (L-R): Timothy Topolski (’22, SOE/HC), Daniel Goldin (’22, SAS/HC), Juliet Petillo (’22, EMSOP/HC)
Professor (L): Pedro Cesar Lopes Gerum
Learning Assistant (R): Anne Hong