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HU Senior Erica Ward Wins 2nd Place During the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences

This weekend, April 1-3rd, was the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, PA.  Senior undergraduate student Erica Ward in the Integrative Sciences Program studying Biological Chemistry presented her research entitled “Extraction Method Effects on the Antibacterial Properties of Plant-Derived Oils” at the meeting.  She is the first student from Harrisburg University to present at this conference.  Erica represented HU extremely well at the conference.  She received compliments from faculty and students from various universities across PA.  The ultimate compliment came from the PA Academy of Science itself when at the conclusion of the conference on Sunday she was awarded 2nd place for Outstanding Undergraduate Oral Research Presentation at the conference.  The conference included research presented from 30 different academic institutions across PA.  Her oral research presentation was judged to be among the very best, and we at Harrisburg University are so proud of her.

Research Abstract:

Ward, Erica*, Richard Jackson, and Catherine Santai. Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Extraction Method Effects on Antibacterial Properties of Essential Oils. — With the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant microbes, the search for new antibiotics is paramount for the future of medicine. Research is turning toward plants and their essential oils to find compounds that combat bacteria. Essential oils from Origanum vulgare (oregano)[1] and Syzygium aromaticum (clove)[2] have previously shown to have antibacterial properties. Oil composition can vary depending on extraction method and potential antibacterial function[3]. In this study, oregano and clove were both extracted using two different methods: organic solvent extraction and Pressurized Hot Water

(PHW) extraction. These physical conditions can improve water’s ability to extract a solute by adjusting physical constants, including the dielectric constant. The efficiency of the antibacterial component was assayed using disc diffusion against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. There was no significant difference in antibacterial effectiveness between the two extraction methods for oregano-derived oil against E. coli. Therefore subjecting water to both high pressure and temperature increased the solubility for carvacrol, the main antibacterial constituent in oregano, as predicted. Lastly, the diethyl ether solvent-extracted clove oil did not inhibit any bacterial growth for either bacterial species, but the PHW extracted clove oil inhibited both bacterial species suggesting that the solvent altered the antibacterial composition of the oil. This new information indicates extraction method and essential oil composition greatly affects antibacterial properties.