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.

Blog Post #3

The results from my research have been successful in both the zone clearing of bacteria along with UV radiation testing for all samples created. My work focused on the creation of natural samples with butters, essential oils, and powders with a focus on MCT oil and coconut oil. The results so far have shown that different oils including: cinnamon cassia, bergamot, catnip, lemongrass, olive oil, and carrot seed oil proved to be the most effective in zone clearing at greater than 4.4 cm. Zone clearing in this case is the part on a petri dish where no growth of bacteria reached the sample placed in the dish. This shows the zone of inhibition where the sample proved to be effective against the bacteria. The results that I was initially looking for was anything greater than 1.2 cm, with that number being considered good. So, my results for a few of the samples showed to be very promising. From the results that were proven to be effective I decided to incorporate the MCT oil and or coconut oil to see if there would be any correlation in enhancing the zone clearing of bacteria. However, the results so far are still pending and until I receive the results my research is at a pause. My hypothesis though is that the zone clearing will be enhanced since more fatty acid chains will be supplied and provide more bonding to enhance the zone clearing of bacteria. The UV radiation testing was successful from the 45 samples created, and about half of them were effective in producing a 7-9 rating. The lowest possible rating was a 1, while a 10 was considered to be the most effective. Most of the results that had a high zone clearing were also effective against UV radiation, however there were a few of the samples that were low which is where I needed to think of a way to enhance these results. After the addition of the MCT oil in these effective samples the numbers went from 2-4 to 7-9.

            The problems at hand were to see different combinations of shea butter with different essential oils and powders, because of the antimicrobial properties found inside them. Taking the research done from previous students who worked with my mentor, the essential oils that were proven to be effective were the ones that I incorporated into my research. These oils were the ones that provided the largest zone clearing which are provided above, except for catnip. The collaboration with my mentor helped tremendously with a few of the problems at hand beginning with the low UV radiation numbers for the effective zone clearing samples. After recreating the samples that were found to be most effective and inserting the MCT oil the UV effectiveness increased for all samples. MCT oil alone with the shea butter did not have an effect on radiation, but after inserted into the samples the reaction caused there to be an increase in UV protection. My research results so far would not be where they are if I did not have the guidance of my mentor. Communication was key for the experimentation part of the research, and I cannot thank Dr. Rizzo enough for allowing me to do this project. The challenges found within this project though included waiting some time to receive the MCT oil, so that pushed my results after incorporating the MCT oil into the samples to be received later. However, I have learned so much on how interactions with certain oils and powders will react differently with the shea butter base. Also, this research pertains to my future career with wanting to go into the cosmetic science field and focusing on natural ingredients to fight against different skin bacteria’s. The knowledge I have gained while working in the laboratory has been promising for my future, and again thank you Dr. Rizzo for all of your incite on this project and for my future overall.

Blog 2: Continuation of Coconut and Medium Chain Triglycerides Infused with Plant Powders to Combat Bacteria

During this research I work collaboratively with my professor Dr. Rizzo for obtaining samples of surfaces and oils from shea butter, coconut oil, MCT oils, and powders. Along with the creation of the samples testing them against UV radiation is necessary in order to determine if the samples can help in the protection against harmful radiation. The results I have obtained so far are effective in my research by telling which samples are protective against radiation and also which samples fight against the three different bacteria’s being tested. There are some specific natural oils and powders when mixed in solution with coconut oil and shea butter that have had great results. However, I just received the necessary MCT oil so the results so far are based solely around the addition of coconut oil and either a powder or an oil that had constructive results from other colleague’s samples. From this point on the MCT oil will be the focus with coconut oil, powders, and other natural oils. Since the MCT oil took some time to get in I had to think of other ways to make my research successful, which is why I tested the base of shea butter and coconut oil with the different natural oils and powders as a control group to see whether or not the MCT oil will have any effect when added in. I communicated this with Dr. Rizzo and we have come up with different solutions and ways in which the research can be helpful without the MCT oil at the moment. I try to do research one to two times a week, although due to sending samples to the laboratory for testing I do have to wait a week between sending samples sometimes. Dr. Rizzo has given me great mentorship and communication throughout the process thus far, and she continues to give me great feedback and ways to improve future results for this project.

            The results concluded so far are very insightful due to seeing which oils and powders when mixed with the coconut oil and/or shea butter will have good results with the bacteria testing or UV testing. There are some natural oils that I would think would be effective against bacteria, but the results show otherwise. It is exciting to play around and try to find the perfect sample that will have the results I am looking for. From this moment on I want to see how drastically the results will change once adding the MCT oil into the samples. Along with the effects of the turmeric and maca powders with the MCT oil. Will the testing against UV radiation improve at all? Will the testing against bacteria be beneficial or no change at all? The conclusion of this research will depend solely on the MCT oil. Also, with this project I have been accepted to present at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting this spring in Orlando, Florida alongside some of my colleagues.

Blog 1: Coconut and Medium Chain Triglycerides Infused with Plant Powders to Combat Bacteria

The research project that I have started this fall for the 2018-2019 year, is based on the creation of antimicrobial surfaces using all natural ingredients, along with testing against UV radiation. The title of my project is, “coconut and medium chain triglycerides infused with plant powders to combat bacteria.” The purpose of this project is to infuse exotic butters and natural oils and powders to create a surface that could be used on the skin for people with skin irritations or diseases. Studies have found that natural ingredients have been able to reach the plasma of the skin much quicker and easier compared to other synthetic ingredients. The natural butters and essential oils have therapeutic effects on the skin, which plays into why many cosmetic companies have switched to all natural and organic products. The use of certain butters and natural oils in research has been shown to have effective results due to the antimicrobial properties found within them, which prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Our work focuses on the infusion of the fixed variable shea butter, along with the addition of different natural MCT oils and natural powders like turmeric and maca to create these antimicrobial surfaces. As for the UV testing, each sample created will be tested to see if it can with stand radiation. The goal behind this is to create a surface that can prevent the harmful cancers that come from the UV rays. By the end of this project, there is a hope to have created a natural surface that can help fight against different skin diseases and irritations, along with preventing the cancers that come with UV radiation. Also, I will be presenting my research this spring at the American Chemical Society. Finally, to in the end be able to apply the knowledge from this project with Dr. Rizzo to future research for the cosmetic industry.

The methods for this project have two parts including, the creation of the antimicrobial surface and then taking the surface and testing it with an ultraviolet light.

To create different surfaces, the shea butter must be liquefied by a water bath so that the MCT oils and powders will readily infuse. From there a ratio of about 3:1 will be used as the starting ratio, with shea butter and either oil (mL) or powder (g) respectively. Once results come back for the different rounds of samples then the ratio can be adjusted accordingly. From there the sample is hardened over night at room temperature, or tested for UV radiation. The UV radiation method includes the created surface sample, a zip lock bag, a petri dish, UV radiation detecting beads, and an ultraviolent light. The UV radiation detecting beads are placed in a petri dish that is then zipped in the zip lock bag. From there about 1 mL of the sample is spread evenly over top of the beads and the ultraviolent light is placed over top for about 20 seconds. From there the different samples are rated from 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, by comparing it to the blank sample of just the exotic butter.