Women who want to purchase make-up face an overwhelming variety of choices. So how are they to know which products are really the best for their skin?

Alexis DeGraff, who will be a senior at Temple High School this fall, has always been interested in make-up. So when she had a chance to conduct a summer research project, DeGraff decided to study the physical properties of liquid foundation. Her goal was to find out which foundations are better for certain skin types based on their physical properties.

“Make-up is not regulated by the FDA the way drugs are,” DeGraaf said. “Foundation is applied directly to the skin, but companies are not required to provide much information about what is in it.”

DeGraff is one of 16 area high school students who conducted research this summer as part of a program sponsored by the Texas Bioscience Institute’s Middle College program. The students worked with faculty mentors from a variety of local institutions, including Baylor Scott & White Health, Texas A&M College of Medicine, Texas A&M University-Central Texas, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, the City of Killeen, and the Veterans Administration Research Lab.

DeGraff conducted her research with Dr. Ruth Ann Murphy, a professor of chemistry at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She studied properties of three different brands of foundation – CoverGirl, Maybelline and NYX. Within each brand, she tested a light foundation, a medium one, and a dark one.

DeGraff determined the pH levels, density, viscosity and dehydration rate for each of the products.

“I wanted to know if brand makes a difference in physical properties,” she said.

Dehydration rate is important, DeGraaf explained, because if you have dry skin, you want a foundation that holds in moisture more. But a product that holds in moisture more could cause pimples to grow faster.

Before she conducted her research, DeGraaf said she was using CoverGirl foundation. But as a result of her research, she found that a Maybelline foundation would be better for her because she has oily skin.

As a result of her work, DeGraff was able to help Murphy develop a new lab she plans to use in her freshman chemistry classes this fall.

DeGraff said she hopes to work with Murphy again next summer, before attending Texas A&M University to study chemical engineering.

Arleth Subiria, a classmate of DeGraff’s at Temple High School, also worked in Murphy’s lab over the summer. Subiria, who is an aspiring dentist, studied the physiochemical properties of eight different mouthwashes.

“Knowing the physiochemical properties of mouthwash can help people select the most suitable product for them,” she said.

For example, Subiria said, people who have a dry mouth — a condition known as xerostomia — need to avoid mouthwashes with ethyl alcohol, which can increase dry mouth.

Subiria said after conducting her research, she also decided to switch to a different brand of mouthwash.

Killeen High School student Lee Horton had the opportunity to work with Dr. Mienie DeKock Roberts, an associate professor of mathematics at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, on a real-life prosthetic hand project.

Through a Google + community that is dedicated to helping people who need prosthetics, the two found a 19-year old man in California who was born without a hand. Using mathematics and 3-D printing, they were able to fashion a prosthetic hand for the man for less than $50 – a fraction of the cost of medical-grade prosthetics.

Horton, who is interested in medicine, said the summer experience confirmed his desire to be able to work with patients.

Other students participating in the summer research program conducted research on a wide variety of topics, including cancer, computer software and water quality in the City of Killeen. The students presented their research Aug. 8 at a public event held at the TBI campus.

Other students who participated in the summer research program were:

  • Zachrieh Alhaj of Harker Heights, who worked with Dr. Nasir Uddin from the Texas A&M College of Medicine.
  • Malaika Ali of Academy, who worked with Dr. Matthew McMillin from the Veterans Administration Research Lab.
  • William Cody Bradley of Troy, who worked with Dr. Christine Jones from Texas A&M University-Central Texas for the second year in a row.
  • Zachary Hunt of Temple, who worked with Dr. Sanjib Mukherjee from the Texas A&M College of Medicine.
  • Amira Lambertis of Killeen, who worked with Dr. Binu Tharakan of Baylor Scott & White Health and Texas A&M College of Medicine.
  • Sonia Lopez of Harker Heights, who worked with Dr. Lee Shapiro from the Texas A&M College of Medicine.
  • Madigan McDaniel of Harker Heights, who worked with Dr. Anitha Chennamaneni from Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
  • Yasmeen Patel of Killeen and Joshua Queen of Academy, who worked with Dr. Fengfei Wang from Baylor Scott & White Health.
  • Hannah Peterson of Harker Heights, who worked with Kristina Ramirez, director of environmental services for the City of Killeen.
  • Daisy Rodriguez of Killeen, who worked with Dr. Laura Weiser Erlandson from Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
  • Gwyneth Udy of Harker Heights, who worked with Dr. Shannon Glaser from the Veterans Administration Research Lab.
  • Michae’ Villegas of Killeen, who worked with Dr. Phyllis Tipton from Baylor Scott & White Health.

The TBI Middle College Program offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours in STEM–focused classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through Temple College. For more information on the program, visit http://templejc.edu/tbi/middle-college.



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