Student conducts antimicrobial research
Summertime is often filled with barbecues and picnics featuring a wide variety of foods. Finding ways to make those foods safer was how one Kansas State University undergraduate spent her summer.
Keshia McAfee, senior in food science and industry, Olathe, researched the effectiveness of novel food-grade antimicrobials against salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus in pure cultures and food products. McAfee conducted her research in the Call Hall food safety lab in June and July. Her faculty mentor was Randy Phebus, professor of animal sciences and industry. Her research was supported by the XIM Group, a Sabetha-based food consulting company.
Antimicrobial research has been ongoing in Phebus' lab, McAfee said. She worked with Minto Michael, a K-State doctoral candidate in food science and industry, on the research project.
In her research McAfee discovered the concentrations of each antimicrobial necessary to inhibit Salmonella Montevideo and Staphylococcus aureus.
"This information can be used to know how concentrated the antimicrobials should be to be effective in food," she said.
McAfee conducted her research as part of K-State's McNair Scholars Program, which helps prepare undergraduates for successful graduate careers. The program provides summer research internships and related opportunities throughout the school year. This was the second consecutive summer McAfee conducted research.
The McNair Scholars Program has been very beneficial according to McAfee, who is interested in attending graduate school for biomedical science.
"I have learned a ton about graduate school," she said. "The McNair Scholars Program has really prepared me for my next step in life."
In the summer 2009 McAfee researched antioxidants, including the polyphenol catechin, found in green tea. The research centered on how formulation, processing and in vitro digestion affects catechin content. High performance liquid chromatography revealed that catechin content was at levels worth noting, McAfee said. This research was conducted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., through the Summer Research Opportunities Program.
McAfee said she was unaware of what research entailed before her summer experiences.
"At first I thought I wouldn't like it," she said. "But now that I have had these experiences, I really enjoy it."