Student researchers waging battle against bacteria
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Wendy Eidman of Milton is one of several students working in a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater lab this summer on a research project that uses extremely small biologically altered particles to fight contamination such as bacteria, mold or fungus. Terry Mayer/staff.
WHITEWATER — A research grant at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is giving three local students a chance to get hands-on experience with some downright tiny particles.
Assistant professor of biological sciences Eric Brown applied for the $35,954 grant from the UW System for his work on ways to keep surfaces free of contamination using nanoparticles.
“The ultimate goal would be to develop a nanomaterial that could be applied to surfaces that would allow the sterilization of surfaces just by flicking on a light,” Brown said. “The idea would be that this type of technology would replace the use of different noxious chemicals.”
Such a material could be used in food-processing plants, hospitals and other places where keeping things sterile is key.
Nanotechnology involves matter that has one dimension of 100 nanometers or less, and has unique properties it would not have on a larger scale. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
Jacob Crosby, a senior from Elkhorn; Wendy Eidman, a post-baccalaureate student from Milton; and Stephanie Simonet, a senior from Whitewater; are driving the research for the project, along with senior Kara Kamps of Belmont.
Brown said the year-long grant allowed for the purchase of equipment to help in the process, and pays the students for their research.
“This summer, they’re going to be assessing how they can modify nanoparticles so they’re very photo sensitive,” Brown said. “They’ll be testing them to see how they work in terms of destroying biological targets.”
The 41-year-old Eidman, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, said she returned to school for a career change.
She hopes to become a physician and has applied for medical school.
Read the full story in the Aug. 1, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.