Racquela Richard Presents at National Conference
LONGMEADOW, Mass.— Researchers have long-studied the medicinal qualities of cranberries, and Bay Path College senior and Providence, RI, resident Racquela Richard can now be counted among them. Following the successful completion of her internship with the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Richard was among 10 undergraduates in the country invited to present their research findings at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.
Based at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the NSF REU internships focused on biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and chemistry and biochemistry. Richard and her peers at WPI selected various research projects to conduct during the ten-week program. When given the opportunity to perform her research experiment, Richard explored the therapeutic benefits of cranberry juice, which is often suggested to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI). After reviewing her study, the Biomedical Engineering Society selected Racquela to share her findings with scientists from around the world at its Annual Meeting.
During her research project, Cranberry Juice Does Not Alter Bacterial Growth but May Inhibit Bacterial Adhesion, Richard examined the biological process in which cranberry juice may inhibit UTIs. She, along with her team from WPI, hypothesized that consuming cranberry juice does not kill bacteria, but it prevents E. coli from adhering to cells, which line the urinary tract. By using cranberry juice cocktail and a placebo, Richard determined that a cranberry juice cocktail does not destroy the UTI-causing E. coli bacteria. However, previous clinical research proposes that cranberry juice cocktail drinks contain anti-adhesive properties, which prevent the bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract cells. Investigators continue the research to determine the factors that inhibit bacterial adhesion.
The Annual Meeting welcomes leaders and decision-makers in research, design, and applications of medical technology. More than 2,200 participants from over 20 countries attended the event, and represented a wide variety of practicing engineers from biomedical, electrical, chemical, mechanical, and other engineering fields, as well as medical specialists.
“The NSF internship was a great experience, which has led to so much more,” said Richard, who is a Bay Path NSF Scholar. “My education at Bay Path prepared me well for the lab experiences, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to conduct bioengineering research with acclaimed scientists and to receive personal and professional development training, which will serve me well as I further my education.”