Speaking for science
Liberty student gets the opportunity to present research findings at the VAS
Not every student gets an opportunity to present his or her research at the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS), but Liberty University student Stefany Orellana, a cell and molecular biology student, and her team were some of the few who did.
In January, Orellana, one of three students from Liberty invited to speak at the VAS, stood in front of the Virginia House of Delegates’ Science and Technology Committee and presented her case on the importance of undergraduate research.
“Speaking at the academy of science was a new experience for me,” Orellana said.”
I had no idea what it was going to be like, but it was in a small room, and there I was in front of the microphone to present our research.”
Her research, a study on the effects of essential oils as an anti-microbial agent, has the potential for a substantial impact in the field of biology.
Orellana and the team worked to find which active compounds in the oils fight bacteria, while also working to enhance the oils chemically to increase their bacteria-fighting effects.
Currently, essential oils are already used for many medicinal uses such as joint pain, decongestants, anxiety and as a sleep aid.
Orellana’s research through Liberty not only allowed her to receive a grant for research, but also gave her a better idea about what she wants to do with her career,
narrowing her general goal of becoming a doctor to wanting to be a doctor who conducts medical research as well.
“Going into undergraduate medical school was something I wanted to do, but this research project has made me want to become more than that,” Orellana said.
“I want to keep researching as well.”
Last year, Orellana pitched her proposal at Liberty’s Research Week, an event where Liberty students can highlight their knowledge, skills and excellence in research and scholarship in the form of a poster or
It was during Research Week that her pitch was chosen and supported by Associate Chemistry Professor Michael Korn.
Orellana hopes her research will be something that can be taken to other countries.
“I’ve always wanted to do missions, and Liberty University’s research has a global focus,” Orellana said.
Orellana and her research team have garnered attention since her presentation.
Orellana and her fellow team members Katherine Phillips and Meghan Ehko presented their work, “Microbial Effects of Chemically Modified Essential Oils,” at the VAS Fall Undergraduate Meeting in October and received a $500 research grant.
Her team has also been invited to present at the VAS annual meeting at Virginia Commonwealth University this May.
Orellana was joined by Matthew Anderson, Joshua Kowalczyk and Katherine Phillips as one of 20 Virginia college students who had the opportunity to present at VAS.