End of Year Report: Ames

I have learned a lot so far from this research and from my mentor. The goal for this research project was to create natural samples that only use natural butters, essential oils, and powders to fight against bacteria and to protect against harmful UV radiation. This project is focused around trying to find alternatives to different topical creams in the medical field that contain different chemicals and substituting it with all natural surfaces. Also, with these topical creams trying to find an alternative to sunscreen which contains harmful chemicals to the environment and to our skin and substituting it with the natural surfaces and oils. I have learned what essential oils, butters, and powders have antimicrobial properties from the literature research, and then have been able to put that to the test in the laboratory. I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge in this field of research, and also to strengthen my skills in the laboratory.

My research has had great results from the samples that have shea butter as a base, and then specific essential oils infused into it like cinnamon cassia, catnip, lemongrass, olive oil, and more which has had a large zone of inhibition. The zone of inhibition is the gap between the sample in the petri dish and the bacteria growth on the plate. The larger the zone of inhibition, at about 1.2 cm or larger, then the better the sample was at fighting against the designated bacteria that include: S. aureus, E. coli, and pseudomonas. I had about six samples that had a zone inhibition of about 4.4 and larger, which shows that the sample was successful against the bacteria. I also had many samples on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, where they were successful at about a 9 on the scale for protection against UV radiation. There was an issue at first with the MCT oil that my project was mainly focused around, and it took a while for it to come in. So, I started with a few samples as a control and then once I was able to get the MCT oil in, I infused it into the samples previously tested that had the best results against the bacteria’s. However, the lab that we collaborate with, where they test the samples against the bacteria’s, was backed up for a while and could not get the samples back in the time frame we needed. My mentor and professor in this project came up with a solution and an alternative to the situation, and I was ready before my first presentation of this project.

I don’t think I could have done this project without the help and guidance from my professor. She helped with the initiative of this project in getting me set up and situated with the material that was necessary for this project. The best part though  was the freedom that my mentor allowed me to have. I was able to collaborate initially with the ideas and goals that we had for this project, and then I was able have the time in the laboratory to play around with the different samples created in this project. I was able to use the background and knowledge that I have learned in previous classes, and then would come to her with the results and if any questions that I had. We would discuss the outcomes of the different samples after being tested, and then would take that information and build upon it. The future for this project is to get the tested results back from the MCT oil and see how it affects the bacteria growth for the tested samples that had a large zone of inhibition. Also, to focus more on the shea butter and testing the dielectric constant of the samples with different essential oils and powders infused in. After different essential oils and butters have been heated for long periods of time the antimicrobial properties found inside have decreased, so we would like to look further into how these samples will be able to maintain their physical and chemical properties after the extensive amounts of heating.

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