Skyline biology students show off research projects

Many potential new antibiotics are being researched by students on campus

Potential new antibiotics from sources such as black walnuts were seen as a possibility at the SACNAS Symposium held in Building 5’s Learning Center on Friday, Oct. 7.

Held by Biology 695 students, the Symposium gave students and faculty a chance to see the research projects of Biology 695 students, who gave presentations on the work they did under the guidance of professors such as Christine Case.

Holed up in a small room of the Learning Center, each of the students presenting also had billboards with information on their particular research project. This symposium leads up to their trip to the SACNAS 2016 conference in Long Beach later this year.

Skyline student Akayi Thein, working with Grizelda Erazo, presented her findings on a strain of bacteria that works as an antibiotic by inhibiting the growth of bacteria itself. Her findings revolved around the extract of ribes menziesii, or more commonly named the canyon gooseberry. Testing the extract against bacteria such as Escherichia Coli, and S. aureus, the extract showed quite promising results as an antibiotic over testing.

In this particular research project, the extract was suspended in a solution of ethanol and then mixed with foods such as boiled rice along with the bacteria as well, and then tested each of the samples for how many bacteria were present after a certain amount of time.

“History has shown that this compound has been used before.” Thein said. “But it’s now proven sicentifically.”

Another example of such research projects comes from Skyline student Janah May Oclaman, who also tested the antibiotic potential of a substance called Juglone, a compound found in black walnut trees, which is different from the type of walnuts that are commonly eaten. Oclaman took interest in juglone, seeing as it is a more natural compound, and sees a potential heightened interest for a more “natural” solution to antibiotics.

This particular research project focused specifically on the notorious salmonella bacteria. Diluting commercial juglone in ethanol, Oclaman later suspended both lettuce and ground beef in the solution, showing fairly significant inhibition of salmonella growth.

“Juglone is effective, but it is not entirely safe.” Oclaman said at her presentation. “Lower concentrations may be safe, though.”

I wasn’t able to get see all of the projects that were presented at the event, but from what i did see, antibiotics were a common trend between many of them. Biology professor Nick Kapp was also there, walking among each of the presentations and asking the presenting students what their projects were about, and a bit about their methods as well. Students also stood by presenters in groups, listening to what was being said in the background.