Manhattanville College Biology Department: Small in Size, Big in Opportunities

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Manhattanville College Biology Department: Small in Size, Big in Opportunities

January 31, 2017 • tracy.guyton

Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung and Olivia Drew '17. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.

Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung and Olivia Drew '17.

Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung is assisting Olivia Drew '17 with her senior research project in the biology lab at Manhattanville College. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.

Olivia Drew ’17 is spending plenty of time in the biology laboratory this year, alongside Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung, researching the use of citrus oils in reducing the amount of antibiotics needed to treat bacterial infections.

Drew is trying to find the right mix of the citrus oil D-Limonene and the antibiotic rifampicin to inhibit the growth of a biofilm created by a mutant strain of staphylococcus epidermidis which grows on people’s skin and causes complications and infections. The current treatment for the biofilm is to take a lot of antibiotics, such as rifampicin, in order to reduce the complications.

Olivia Drew '17. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.

Olivia Drew '17.

Olivia Drew '17 is trying to find the right mix of the citrus oil D-Limonene and the antibiotic rifampicin to inhibit the growth of a biofilm created by a mutant strain of staphylococcus epidermidis. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.

The work Drew is doing follows research that two former students, Charlene Caoili ’16 and Natcha Rumaneethorn ’16, began last year with Dr. Yeung-Cheung. While Caoili and Rumaneethorn were trying to see if the D-Limonene would react with the antibiotic, Drew is taking her research to the next level by trying to find the precise concentration needed to have a minimal amount of antibiotic use and still inhibit the growth of staphylococcus epidermidis.

“I have determined some values that definitely could work, but we need to run further tests,” said Drew, a biochemistry major and business management minor.

While collaborative research projects like this are commonplace for Manhattanville biology students, it’s not a common opportunity for many undergraduate students, due to costs and the lack of faculty members. However, Manhattanville’s small size and state of the art facilities and equipment allows undergraduate students to do their own research projects alongside dedicated faculty members, providing a true hands-on experience of working in a laboratory for the students.

“It’s up to them on how far they go. The harder they work the more data they generate,” Yeung-Cheung said. “Here you can spend days in the lab. It is a precious experience.”

Drew, who plans on going to dental school after she graduates from Manhattanville, added, “It’s given me an upper hand when I apply to other schools, and when I go on to do research in the dental field.”

Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung and Olivia Drew '17. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.

Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung Helps Olivia Drew '17.

Manhattanville College's Biology Department promotes mentor-mentee relationships between faculty and students, like the one Dr. Anna Yeung-Cheung formed with Olivia Drew '17. Photo by Tara Murphy '18.



Yeung-Cheung went on to explain that mentoring students early on in their time at Manhattanville is very important to the Biology Department.

“We build a close relationship. We text each other all of the time,” Yeung-Cheung said with a laugh.

Drew’s research will continue into the spring, which will be aided by a grant she received from the Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) Research Foundation. Drew, who is president of the Manhattanville chapter of Tri-Beta, will be presenting her work at the Northeast regional district convention, and will submit her manuscript to the organization’s publication BIOS.

“There are so many positives to this research as a whole. I am so fortunate that I picked this school and I got to participate in this project, and who knows, maybe I will get published,” Drew said.

In addition to her role with Tri-Beta, Drew also plays ice hockey and lacrosse for the Valiants, is treasurer of the College’s American Chemical Society chapter, a supplemental instructor for biology, and a chemistry tutor in the Academic Resource Center.

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