During the entirety of the fall semester I have devoted time to participate in research with Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo- under Dr. Rizzo’s supervision, I synthesized antimicrobial surfaces. Our formulation of surfaces is produced via the combination of various organic butters as a base and the strategic addition of plant-based oils and powders to promote the healing effects produced by the butters.
The defining feature of this research project lies in exploring natural ways to prevent and cure bacterial infection while preventing UV damage produced by natural causes. With the understanding that Tamanu butter, Aloe Vera butter, and Ucuuba butter are known to have soothing antimicrobial effects, we wish to find chemical counterparts that are found from other organic sources that work synergistically to enhance the probability of the desired outcomes. To date I have generated about 130 samples- 62 have proven to have great antimicrobial resistance and 74 have ample UV resistance. Of all samples, 44 have demonstrated the best outcome of having both antimicrobial resistance and UV resistance.
As the primary researcher, the biggest question I have is what are ways that I can revise the samples that did not work to further enhance their effects to produce the desired epidermic outcome. By exploring the effect of adding powdered supplements such as Graviola, wheatgrass, or sacred mushroom I hope to multiply the healing and protective effects of samples. Another question that comes up during research involves understanding what other bacterial strains can be tested to ensure we are making a holistic cure to infection. So far, the bacteria we study in relation to antimicrobial resistance is E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa.
The problem-solving methodology used to address questions like these rely on prior observations and informative literature searches to find potent organic chemicals that prevent infections and disease- by relying on past works conducted, I can stand on the shoulders of past researchers who have studied the chemical make up of plants and role that plant chemicals play in bacterial resistance.
Rudra Persaud and Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo
My research project aims to enhance the cosmetic chemistry world by introducing a novel line of antimicrobial surfaces derived from a synergetic fusion of exotic butters, plant-based essential oils, and plant-based powder supplements. Antimicrobial surfaces are any agent that has a potential to inhibit the growth and development of microorganisms- bacterial and fungus being the target group in this study. In addition to having this retardation effect, we also examine the potential for our antimicrobial surfaces in repelling the absorption of UV light. The ingredients that constitute the basis of our formulation are ucuuba butter, aloe vera butter, and tamanu butter; the variable ingredients include a wide variety of oils and powders including, but not limited to, chaulmoogra oil, Jamaican black castor oil, dragon’s blood, marine phytoplankton, and sacred mushroom. The products that we generate in our lab are considered vegan and 100% organic- one of the biggest trends found in the cosmetology market is a global shift for consumers to favor products that are derived naturally instead of synthetically. In general, natural skin products are earth-friendly, biodegradable, reduce any uncomfortable chemical irritation, are nutrient rich with natural fatty acids, and prevent adverse chemical imbalances. The overall premise of this project is to provide more natural means to sterile wound healing techniques and prevent harmful cancers caused by UV rays.
The antimicrobial surfaces are synthesized and tested for UV resistance in our research lab at Pace University, but to test for antimicrobial resistance our samples are sent to a partner university, Long Island University Post.
To generate the antimicrobial surface, the individual butters used are initially liquefied through the use of a hot water bath. About 4 mL of each sample is aliquoted into a beaker and 2 mL of an essential oil is infused. The mixture is then plated in a petri dish and left to solidify at room temperature.
Using a tryptic soy agar plate, 0.8 cm plugs of agar were removed. 175 µL of each butter and oil sample was liquefied and placed in different agar holes, which were left to be hardened. 100 µL of 106 S. aureus was spread on the agar using a sterile spreader and each plate was left to incubate overnight at 37 °C. Antimicrobial activity was assessed based on if the zones of clearance were greater than 1 cm around each sample plug.
Following the creation of the surface, UV radiation tests are conducted. Each antimicrobial formulation is generated using the above procedure. A ziplock bag is filled with UV detecting color beads, and each antimicrobial surface is applied evenly over the bag. Each bag is then placed under UV radiation for about 20 seconds. Samples were then rated based on how drastic the color change was in relation to a blank sample of individual butters and a comparative sunscreen.