Mentor: Dr. Susan Percival
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"When I started research last year, I was seeking to conduct an independent project, get experience in my prospective career, and eventually write a thesis paper on my findings. I applied to the Scholars program because it served as a way to fulfill all of these desires. I hope that I will learn more about how nutrition affects oral microbiota and oral biofilm formation. I also want to gain a firm foundation in conducting projects in the lab and writing scholarly publications through this experience. My goal is to present my findings to the American Society for Nutrition at the Experimental Biology Conference in 2013. I also hope to publish my findings in an academic journal."
- Human Physiology
- Bacterial Biofilms
- Oral Health
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Friends and Alumni Leadership Award (April, 2012)
University Scholars Program for Independent Research Project (March, 2012)
CALS Upper Division Honors Program
- College of Dentistry Clinics and dental clinics for the mentally disabled and underserved
- Pre-Dental ASDA to teach children about dental health and good hygiene
Hobbies and Interests
- Playing/Recording Musical Instruments
Inhibition of Oral Biofilm and Amyloid Fibril Formation Using Cranberry
Dental caries is the most common infectious disease among humans and has caused great financial consequences globally. Streptococcus mutans, the causative agent of caries, is found ubiquitously in the human oral cavity. This pathogen has many unique proteins that allow it to adhere to smooth, hard surfaces. One important extracellular fibrillar-like protein that has been recently characterized allows it to adhere to the dental pellicle formed on a tooth. This organism has enzymes that convert simple carbohydrates, particularly sucrose, into an extracellular polysaccharide matrix. Within this matrix, more S. mutans and other microorganisms can bind to form a highly complex biofilm structure, which eventually becomes what is known as dental plaque. Recently, researchers have found that S. mutans makes amyloid fibrils, which may contribute to the structure and strength of these matrices. Continuous reshaping and growth of the biofilm creates a microenvironment, which allows the bacteria to survive much of the harsh chemical treatments and mechanical forces in the oral cavity such as the use of toothpaste and toothbrush. Once isolated, the bacteria’s metabolism of simple sugars into organic acid by-products is allowed to aggregate around the tooth surface. The drop in pH of fluids on the tooth surface erodes the enamel and leads to carious legions. Past research has shown that cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) inhibit biofilm formation on a hydroxyapatite surface. My project seeks to find which components in cranberry effectively reduce biofilm and amyloid fibril formation. By separating the major components in cranberry through HPLC, I will be able to determine what is contributing to inhibiting biofilm and amyloid fibril formation. Positive results could indicate potential efficacy in reducing plaque formation, and consequently, reducing caries in people.