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Two years ago, Riley Nichols and Hyrum Packard started a research project with Dr. Craig Oberg swabbing gym equipment in an effort to find if it could be a source of microbial contamination. After a semester of swabbing the equipment, their findings showed there was no bacteria, which meant that they had to find a new approach. Because of preliminary research associating bacteria with automatic hand dryers, Dr. Oberg suggested they switch to swabbing those. Their research showed that hand dryers can be a source of microbial contamination, and the group was chosen to present their findings at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) annual meeting and at Weber State’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.  

As they began swabbing the hand dryers, they ran into some challenges. Their first approach was to swab their hands to see if the bacteria transferred from the hand dryers, but it proved to be less productive than they would have liked. They would swab their hands after they air dried them, dried them with a paper towel, or dried them with the hand dryer and repeated this process, switching the order each time. No matter what order they completed the tests, the last was always the cleanest, and the first was always the dirtiest. They believed this was because they were washing their hands multiple times, so after washing them three or more times, they were always cleaner. Once again they had to find a new approach, so they decided to sample directly in the dryer to look for microbial contaminants...

September 2, 2020
by Katelyn Shaw, student intern

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This year we are highlighting and give voice to biodiversity, energy crisis, and other environment topics.  Also, we want to share your "In my (science) shoes..." story this year as part of CCEL's Engaged Learning Series.   


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Allyson Bangerter, zoology student and REU participant

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