Sandra Arias, a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University and a Columbian scientist, has been the leader in a stunning innovation.
Before we dive into her work, let’s get a little background on Arias. Growing up on a small coffee farm in Columbia, she always wanted to be a scientist, wearing a white coat as a kid. Her parents set the example of work ethic and excellence and were ultimately a huge influence in her pursuing a Ph.D., along with other mentors. Being the first to go to a university in her family, she was determined to make great strides in the science field and sure enough, she did.
Arias looked to the ways we clean our households, for years we have sprayed or wiped down surfaces to kill the bacteria. She is looking at smart materials that use their microscopic, spiky texture to kill the bacteria.
Arias looked to dragonfly wings for inspiration, noticing that the surface of their wings on the microscopic scale naturally broke apart bacterial cells. She developed this spiky surface on her own, using bacterial cellulose hydrogels. These spikes broke apart gram-positive bacteria, the family that contains the deadly Staphylococcus aureus, but not mammalian cells. Her work can develop materials that will kill bacteria in similar ways.
She says, “my work on cellulose demonstrates a simple and economical way to confer bactericidal activity to material by altering its surface texture at the nanoscale. I think a similar strategy can be applied to textiles, food packaging, and a variety of other materials of the industrial and clinical significance that require bactericidal properties.”
Arias isn’t the only Columbian scientist making moves in cellular technology but she is definitely making amazing contributions to the field.