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AUA Students Take Research Into Local Communities

Students at American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine showcased their research and presentation skills to a panel of judges, faculty members, and their peers at Research Day held at the University’s Antigua campus on Saturday, July 27.

Research Day signaled the culmination of a semester dedicated to research projects by third-semester students as part of their microbiology course. The topics covered a range of health issues, some relative to the students’ immediate environment and others encompassing the wider community.

The research was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Olusegun Dipeolu, AUA’s Professor of Microbiology and Director for the Center for Tropical Diseases and International travel medicine.

Acknowledging the important role of microbiology research, AUA’s VP & Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Peter Bell, said that American University of Antigua is well positioned to use its resources to assist in the development of the country. “We are more than a medical school trying to get our students through basic sciences,” said Dr. Bell adding that research “whether examining the germ population at the university or infectious diseases in the community, helps to shape the landscape in microbiology research.”

Echoing Dr. Bell’s sentiments was President of the Student Government Association, Tyger Haywood “the student body is consistently looking for ways to contribute positively to the local community” noting that “student research projects help to contribute to the overall knowledge base.”

Students worked in groups of 10-12 to produce a total of 12 projects which were presented via poster boards. Of these, six were selected for oral presentation. According to Dr. Amiralli, Professor of Anatomy, the judging criteria was based on scientific merit, presentation style, whether the conclusions answered the definite objectives, and relevance to the larger community. Other judges on the panel were Dr. Desiree Francis, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Dr. Krishna, Associate Professor of Pathology.

First place was awarded to the paper ‘Cattle in our Community, the effects of peri-domestic fecal contamination.’ The study assessed the potential threats of community contamination of roaming livestock by isolating and identifying several bacteria from three communities across the island. The team prize was a $500 check from local Pediatric Consultant, Dr. Thomas Martin. The research team included Randall Singh, Jasmine Riviere, Sandeep Khurana, Khalid Sanbol, Melbin Thomas, Janet Kandrevas, Neesha Shah, Anurag Singh, Simraf Suri, and Kamal Tottempudi.

Capturing second place and a cash prize of $500 from Woods Pharmacy was the project entitled ‘Antibiotic resistance in selected communities of Antigua’ which sought to uncover strains of staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcus epidermis that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Research team members Preeta Bendala, Shams Abdulla, Sijuwola Adigun, Nesa Alaeian, Sarah Boaz, Andro Bonhomme, Jaspal, Dharmesh Sanghani, Sukhbir Singh, Sandhiya Suneechur, and Paul Terwilliger.

The paper, ‘Comparison of the Anti-microbial effects of various Hand Sanitizers’ won the third place spot and received a printer-scanner compliments of BBS & Supplies Ltd. The study examined the effectiveness of three different brands of hand sanitizers containing 62% ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient. The paper was presented by Neeja Dave, Vinod Chadalavada, Stephanie Mazloom, Jonathan Bowers, Thinthiri Chit, Jacqueline Choi, and Ravinder Dhiman.

Best poster presentation went to the project entitled ‘Micro-organisms found in Potswork Dam’ by Nimalya Ganeshalingam, Michael Kennis, Rex Porte, Fadi Ismail, Shahista Premji, Tyge Hayward, Tessy Fenton and Sunil Rambarran.

Other topics presented included ‘Contamination of recreational areas at AUA, Bathrooms: safe havens or breeding ground for bacteria’,’ Comparison of oral microflora of pets and humans’, ‘Study of Micro-organisms found on student buses for AUA’, ‘Study of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms found inhabiting books and computers at AUA’s Medical Library’, ‘Antibiotic resistance in selected communities in Antigua’, ‘Micro-organisms found in Potsworks Dam’, ‘Comparison of strains of Staphlococcus in humans and dogs’, ‘Microbial Profile of cups of ice from local eateries in St. John’s’, ‘Do you know what bacteria hitches a ride in your car—testing the microbial population in the cars of AUA students’.