Blog Post 4

This semester I have been conducting research with my faculty advisor Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo. The title of our project is “Synthesis and investigation of new antibacterial surfaces utilizing natural substances”.  The objectives of this research project was to characterize the antibacterial and ultraviolet light protection qualities different essential oils, plant powders, agar and natural butters. This was accomplished by the synthesizing of new surfaces consisting of natural butter, agar, essential oils and plant powders. These surfaces contained only one of each of the natural substances in order to classify them individually. These samples were then sent out to our collaborators at Long Island University Post for bacterial testing. Samples containing natural butters as their base were also tested, here at Pace, for ultraviolet light protection qualities.

Results were obtained for the samples by zone of clearance; anything 1.1 cm or greater was considered antibacterial and ultraviolet light results were scaled from 1-10, 1 being worst and 10 being best. Throughout the research process, we found that Cinnamon Cassia essential oil was most effective for antibacterial and ultraviolet light protection properties for both agar and natural butter based samples. It was also found that with the addition of Chlorella or Ginseng natural plant powder, antibacterial properties were increased. We believe that the compound Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the antibacterial properties in Cinnamon Cassia oil.

During the semesters, I have learned valuable problem-solving and research techniques. This project has taught me the importance of collaboration with my faculty mentor and our collaborators at Long Island University Post. It is near impossible to carry out any research project alone and I am very thankful for my faculty mentor for helping me throughout the entire process. I have also learned how to manage my time in order to have time for my research, my classes and my personal life.

From conducting this research, I was fortunate enough to present my findings at this year’s American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, Florida and present at Pace University’s spring Society of Fellows Meeting. Presenting at both of these events has given me great experience in public speaking and presentation as well as networking. At the ACS meeting I was able to meet many different students and faculty from institutions around the country. I was also able to gain feedback and comments about my research and what I could pursue in the future.

I am extremely thankful to Pace University’s Office of Student Success for this opportunity this year. It taught me more about what it takes to conduct research and it helped me gain confidence in myself and my work. I look forward to carrying this knowledge with me in my future.

Blog Post #3: Updated progress of synthesizing new antibacterial surfaces with natural butters, oils and powders

This semester I am continuing my research project of investigation of synthesis of new antibacterial surfaces using natural substances. I am continuing this project with my faculty mentor Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo. At the end of last semester, I thought of two different questions I would like to address with this research project. The first question was “What specific properties of the essential oil or plant powder contribute to the antibacterial and ultraviolet light protection properties of a sample?” and the second question was “When the essential oils and plant powders are combined are there certain reactions they undergo that optimize the antibacterial and ultraviolet light protection properties?”.

Through different literature searches, it was found that coffee butter contains Chlorogenic acid (CGA) which is known for its antibacterial properties. Murumuru butter was found to contain Lauric Acid, which is a fatty acid well know for antibacterial properties. Upon research it was also found that chlorella powder contains chlorellin and ginseng powder contains ginsenoside which have both been studied for their antibacterial properties.

From the results gathered so far, Cinnamon Cassia oil has shown the largest zone of clearance for antibacterial activity and the best ultraviolet light protection results. We believe this is due to the presence of Cinnamaldehyde in the essential oil. Cinnamaldehyde is known to have antibacterial properties because of the aldehyde functionality present acts as an active site. With the addition of chlorella or ginseng powder antibacterial results have increased, which leads us to believe that there is an interaction occurring that optimizes antibacterial activity.

Moving forward, I am continuing to create more samples to be sent out for testing. I am using different concentrations of the essential oils to determine which have antibacterial properties and which do not. As of now we are looking to classify which oils and powders have these properties. In the future I am looking to combine different oils and powders to optimize the antibacterial and ultraviolet protection results.

Blog #2: Progress with creating new anti-microbial surfaces from agar and natural butters

This fall semester I have been working with my faculty mentor Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo to create new anti-microbial surfaces with agar, natural butters, essential oils and plant powders. So far I have made samples with a only one essential oil or one plant powder or a combination of one essential oil with one plant powder. I first make samples with only the essential oil or one plant powder to determine the best essential oils and plant powders for anti-microbial properties and ultraviolet light protection on their own. From there I use the essential oils and plant powders with the best results and combine them in a sample with natural butter or agar to optimize the anti-microbial and ultraviolet light protection properties.

Now I am waiting for more results to come in, so I can further my research and possibly combine different essential oils and different plant powders together to maximize the anti-microbial and ultraviolet light protection properties. I have worked with Dr. Rizzo to determine what concentrations of essential oil and plant powders I should be using in my samples and also new essential oils and plant powders that can be used. Some questions that I want to investigate are: “What specific properties of the essential oil or plant powder contribute to the anti-microbial and ultraviolet light protection properties?” and “When the essential oils and plant powders are combined are there certain reactions they undergo that optimize the anti-microbial and ultraviolet light protection properties?”. I am working more to be able to answer these questions.

In addition, Dr. Rizzo and I have submitted an abstract for this project for the 257th American Chemical Society Spring Meeting. This meeting will be held in April 2019 and there I will be able to present my research to other scientists. I am very excited to present my research at this meeting this spring.

UGR Blog #1: Use of Agar and Natural Butters as Antibacterial Surfaces

The title of my research project is Use of agar and natural butters as antibacterial surfaces. The purpose of this project is to synthesize new surfaces from agar, natural butters, plant powders and essential oils that are resistant to bacteria. The bacteria we are testing against are Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The goals of this project are to create antimicrobial surfaces that are also non-hazardous to humans. I hope to learn what essential oils and plant powders have antimicrobial effects against S. aureus, E. coli, and P. aeruginosa, in order to provide a solution to minimize the amount of bacterial infections in humans.

The methods I will be using to perform my research are the infusion of agar plates with different combinations of essential oils and natural plant powders in order to maximize the antimicrobial effect of the surface. The same will be applied to the natural butters. The samples with a base of natural butters will also undergo ultraviolet light testing, in order to see what the potential benefits are for protection from ultraviolet light. Some essential oils to be used are: Cinnamon Cassia, Black Cumin Seed, Ginger, Grape Seed, and Rosehip. Some of the plant powders to be used are Chlorella and Ginseng. These powders and oils will be infused into agar as well as natural butters such as, Coffee Butter and Murumuru Butter. I am looking forward to carrying out this research over the academic year.