Over the course of this past 2018-2019 academic year, I have worked with Dr. Jamielee Rizzo in studying how to generate antimicrobial surfaces that exhibit UV resistance. The overall end goal of this project is to find a more natural, yet effective way to address wound healing. As I prepare to graduate in May, having this chance to work with Dr. Rizzo on a scientific research project has encouraged my interest in relevant work and given me the drive to pursue a Ph.D. in science.
Through all of the hard work put into this project and time spent doing background research, I find that there were many instances where I had to find a balance with research along with school work and daily life- but I can say that having this opportunity taught me how to adequately balance my time. One of the reasons I enjoyed working with Dr. Rizzo is because she encourages me to be diligent in my work and gave me the chance to answer thought-provoking questions we came up with together, I felt as though she was able to provide an authentic in-field research experience because often times the questions that are asked may not have an answer yet. Dr. Rizzo was able to give me a chance to think like a real scientist while providing a safe distance to guide me whenever I had my doubts. Another reason why I enjoyed working with Dr. Rizzo is that she encouraged me to participate in as many research presentations as possible. Just recently I had the opportunity to go to the national American Chemical Society symposium in Orlando to present my findings to thousands of scientist from all over the world.
Based on the work completed over the course of this academic year I was able to discover may-interesting facts from the protocol we implement with our butter and oil antimicrobial samples. Base butter by themselves, tamanu, ucuuba, and Aloe Vera, have a known effect when it comes to protecting against UV light and having antimicrobial resistance (see RP1, RP6, and RP11 respectively). In general, it is observed that samples that have a darker tint tend to have a better UV resistance, this is expected because in darker pigments absorb a wide spectrum of light. In fact, the most favorable butter base to use is uccuba butter and tamanu butter, as it has a dark brown tint when liquefied. Butters that naturally have a lighter tint like Aloe Vera tend to have relatively good antimicrobial resistance, having a range of clearance of about 1 cm naturally, but due to its tint does not have good resistance to UV light. As we add essentials oils to our butter bases, we can observe an increase in antimicrobial resistance and UV resistance as well. Essentials oils and powder supplements that add a noticeable favorable result include dragon’s blood, cumin oil, marine powder, sweet marjoram oil, cedarwood oil, rosehip oil, ginseng powder, petitgrain oil, kukui oil, patchouli oil, sacred mushroom powder, and cinnamon cassia oil. These additives are identified to have a significant effect in presenting a favorable outcome, in comparison to blanks, because antimicrobial zone’s of clearance have an increase to 1.5 cm or greater. With these oils and powdered supplements, we plan to test different concentration to identify the smallest ration of materials needed to get antimicrobial resistance and UV resistance while additionally testing different known pathogens that cause skin problems. Although this UV light resistance is very favorable, with regards to the marketability, we need to find a way to make samples that do not cause much deviation to natural skin color. One example of this is usually when a powdered supplement, such as marine powder, is added- marine powder has a deep green tint and with consideration to aesthetic, it would be interesting to see people walk around with green skin.
63 samples were able to demonstrate antimicrobial resistance and 75 samples demonstrated UV light protection. Of the total number of samples, 45 of them were proven to have both UV and antimicrobial protection properties. The samples that we identified to provide the best results include: RP5, RP12, RP21, RP22, RP28, RP30, RP62, RP63, RP64, RP65, RP66, RP67, RP68, RP69, RP72, RP73, RP74, RP75, RP76, RP77, RP87, RP89, RP90, RP91, RP92, RP93, RP94, RP97, RP98, RP99, RP100, RP101, RP102, RP103, RP104, RP105, RP106, RP107, RP108, RP109, RP110, RP111, RP115, RP116, and RP117. Although a majority of these samples do provide great antimicrobial resistance and UV resistance, we need to revise samples RP 63, RP64, RP67, RP68, and RP72 because they have a deep green color that may stain skin. With all samples, we plan to rework the concentration ratios in hopes of identifying if we can decrease the amount of additive materials needed to make samples pungent.
In the future, we anticipate producing more samples that prove better UV protection by the incorporation of compounds from natural powdered supplements and to actively expand our collection of essentials oils in hand based on knowledge of herbal effects demonstrated by plants. To expand on the antimicrobial effects of our samples, we hope to test against different known pathogens that cause epidermal irritation, such as Candida albicans. By the end of this project, it is anticipated that we will be able to provide a means to address more sterile wound healing techniques and a more natural alternative to UV protectants- or produce a unique cure all that reflect both results.