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AUA Student Research Day Helps Connect Local Communities

Twelve groups of third-semester students at American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine have earned themselves top marks following research presentations to a panel of judges, faculty members, and a cross-section of the local community. The presentation was held on March 28th at the University’s west campus on Friar’s Hill Road.

The microbiology research project, under the guidance of Dr. Dipeolu, Professor of Microbiology and Director for the Centre of Tropical Diseases and International Travels at AUA, gave students an opportunity to independently investigate a variety of public health problems as part of the microbiology course, earning them a valuable 15% of their overall grade. Six groups were selected to present their work and the best research project went to the group of students who presented on the ‘Bacterial contamination of ice cream from vendors in Antigua, by Tabitha Aghaji, Merlynn Jayaraman, and Shannon Zipf. Topics for research concentrated on public health problems focusing on the University environment as well as local communities. “In selecting the research topics to be presented, we looked at three that would be of interest to and impact on the public and three that were University oriented,” said Dr. Dipeolu.

He had high praises for his students saying, “I am very satisfied with their work. The students were really interested and the enthusiasm was great.” He said the presentation, covered in the local media, had already seen some positive results.“One of the companies making ice cream has been in touch with us. They want us to work with them to improve their method of preparation. They want AUA to monitor their ice cream process to ensure that it is the right quality before it leaves the factory or retailer,” he explained.Dr. Dipeolu views the University as an independent body playing a critical role in highlighting public health concerns, intervening and then correcting problems as necessary.

He said this is why the University’s Centre for Tropical Diseases and International Travel was established. “We do research that is community-related. We cannot be a medical school and not respond to the health needs of the community. When a medical university fails to respond to the needs of the community in which it is located it simply becomes a white elephant,” opined Dr. Dipeolu.

Other research topics presented covered:

  • “Contamination of classrooms at AUA,”
  • “Microbial Evaluation of Chinese take-away food in Antigua,”
  • ”Bacteria isolates resistant to antibodies among populations in Antigua,”
  • “An examination of the water supply by selected communities in Antigua,”
  • “Bacterial contamination of foods sold at AUA,”
  • “The degree of contamination of drinking water supplied to the American University of Antigua,”
  • “Microbial hand contamination and its significance in disease prevention,”
  • “Contamination of fruit salads and cooked vegetables at local vendors & supermarkets in Antigua,”
  • “The Mosquito effect in Antigua,”
  • “The relatedness of Schistosoma contaminated water pools or ponds and the prevalence of Schistosomiasis in the communities of Antigua,”
  • “Microbial contamination of outdoor food served to some primary and high schools in Antigua.”