Student Profile: Anan Islam

Undergraduate researcher Anan Islam is exploring new ways to clean your everyday products.

Majors: Neuroscience and Biology

Mentors: Dr. Kimberly Kew and Ryan Controneo

Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Project Title: “Protocols for evaluating enzymatic detergents”

My undergraduate research projects examines how we can create eco-friendly detergent products that stand up to wash performance evaluation, stability testing techniques, and MALDI/MS means. Wash performance evaluation is the quantitative analysis using a formula determining the soil removal index by the use of a spectrophotometer. The stability testing technique is the qualitative analysis for degradation of the product over time. MALDI/MS technique determines enzyme degradation by showing shifts in enzyme mass.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I became involved with undergraduate research thanks to Dr. Kimberley Kew and Ryan Cotroneo of U.N.X. Industries. Because of them, I have had the opportunity to expand my ideas of my undergraduate research project.

Why did you choose your research topic?

My research aims to highlight the importance of wash performance in our everyday routine. We often allow a subject as such to go unnoticed, but it allows many different industries to remain functional. These include health care, food and beverage, and even pharmaceuticals. My goal is to develop a method that can formulate great enzymatic detergent products that maintain their quality despite environmental factors; and at the same time formulate products that will be less detrimental to our environment.

What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?

My favorite part of conducting undergraduate research is that my work is relevant. I feel that the work that I put into my research will have an impact because detergents are common products used by everyone.

What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?

The challenges I faced while conducting my research was developing a method that could encompass the three things I saw important for a detergent product to have. I wanted the detergents to maintain its quality, consistent surfactant, and an enzyme. That is why I decided to design the three step process of a wash performance evaluation for the quality, the stability testing technique to find the best surfactant, and the MALDI/MS for the enzyme degradation.

Why is your research important for the average, everyday person?

I believe my research is important for the average, everyday person because we all deal with detergent products to clean. Linens at our hospitals, machines used at food and beverage companies, and even at pharmaceutical industries use detergent products to ensure cleanliness is maintained.

What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?

My goal with my research to publish my methods into a scientific journal by the end of this year highlight my findings and improvements for green, enzymatic detergent products.

How do you feel that participating in undergraduate research has helped prepare you for life after college?

I believe that participating in undergraduate research has definitely opened my eyes to other options available after college. I have been to a ton of conferences and poster presentations, and I can confidently say that undergraduate research has expanded my network a lot.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?

My advice for students who are interested in conducting undergraduate research would be to pursue it. Every question has an answer. It is just a matter of how passionate you are and how willing you are to invest your time to find it.