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Researchers push envelope for Undergraduate Research Day

UTPB+student+Tamara+Davault+%28left%29%2C+Dr.+Tara+Deaver+%28middle+right%29+and+student+Deborah+Brannon+%28far+right%29+stand+in+front+of+their+poster+titled+%22Dermatophyte+Susceptibility+to+Gentian+Violet%22+at+Undergraduate+research+day.
UTPB student Tamara Davault (left), Dr. Tara Deaver (middle right) and student Deborah Brannon (far right) stand in front of their poster titled

UTPB student Tamara Davault (left), Dr. Tara Deaver (middle right) and student Deborah Brannon (far right) stand in front of their poster titled "Dermatophyte Susceptibility to Gentian Violet" at Undergraduate research day.

UTPB student Tamara Davault (left), Dr. Tara Deaver (middle right) and student Deborah Brannon (far right) stand in front of their poster titled "Dermatophyte Susceptibility to Gentian Violet" at Undergraduate research day.

Kelsie Clifton, Features Writer and Columnist

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Have you ever wanted to help make a solution for a medical condition that was affordable, practical, and non-damaging to your body? Well, Science Technician and adjunct teacher for the Biology department, Tamara Davault along with her aunt who is a Podiatrist, Dr. Tara Deaver and pre-nursing student, Deborah Brannon are doing just that through their Undergraduate Research Study.

College as an undergraduate student was when Davault first started doing research. At the time she had plans to go to medical school but says that she learned early on that it was smart to have a backup plan which is what drove her to doing research, wanting to stay in science.

“My professors always told me to have a plan B. What would I do if I couldn’t go into medicine? Knowing I wanted to stay with the same background, Science, I started doing research in undergraduate and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed being in the lab, learning new things, asking questions, and figuring out how to answer them,” she stated.

April 21 the research team participated in the Undergraduate Research Day at UTPB and presented research which focused on looking for a cost-effective method of treating onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus.

Davault informed that they use Gentian violet (GeV), an over-the-counter anti-fungal, to inhibit the growth of dermatophytes which is the fungus that causes onychomycosis. Since they now know that GeV kills dermatophytes, they are going to try it out on patient nail samples and eventually patients.

“Dr. Deaver comes across nail fungus all the time and she is used to just prescribing an anti-fungal medication and just telling patients to stay on it. However, these antifungals can be very rough on the system. Specifically, the liver and often before they can even get on the medication they must go through screenings to even see if their body can handle the anti-fungal,” she informed.

“On top of that, it is very expensive just to start it. Most people will either opt out to not go through all that or they will start it and have to get off because they are not financially able to complete it.”

Deaver was determined to try to find a way to treat her patients in a more economical fashion and safer way.

“Dr. Deaver had heard that GeV had some anti-fungal properties to it. They use it to treat Thrush, a yeast infection that causes white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. So, she was thinking that if we are using it to treat Thrush, I wonder if it will kill the other fungus, dermatophytes,” she said.

Dr. Deaver originally tried to ask if she could just test what she had discovered on patients but was directed to do some empirical studies first which was when she informed Davault about what she had been researching.

Davault’s initial study has been to acquire some dermatophytes, grow them, and expose them to the GeV. Through research, they found that GeV will kill a dermatophyte which is what they presented at Undergraduate Research Day.

Texas Tech Health Science Center has been in collaboration during their research and used grant money for their research that was done. UTPB has also supplied the equipment as well as lab space to do the research.

Having once been a student herself, Davault believes that students having the opportunity to be a part of undergraduate research is important because these opportunities give real life experience to what they are learning.

“Students spend all this time sitting in lectures, going through labs, and learning about things that have been done in the past. Why not try it yourself? See if you can push the envelope. It gives you a passion for what it is that you are going to school for,” she explained.

“Research makes you ask questions and find answers and I think that’s something that you need to be interested in doing, in any subject. I truly appreciate the fact that many majors require you to do it.”

While although there are times that the research can be discouraging, Davault believes that in the end, it is rewarding.

“Sometimes you get things wrong, but you learn. The frustration turns to passion, that passion turns to results, and before you know it you are standing in front of a lecture hall full of people, explaining your experience. I think it’s very rewarding. Don’t be afraid of failure.  Failure is the pathway to success.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Researchers push envelope for Undergraduate Research Day”

  1. D. Byrd on May 12th, 2017 2:16 pm

    Thank you for a procedure that will give more people the opportunity to excellent health care. We appreciate your desire and dedication to help.

    [Reply]

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Researchers push envelope for Undergraduate Research Day