Beating Bedbugs with Biology Research

October 30, 2018

Felicia DelgadilloFelicia Delgadillo ’21 has been researching natural remedies to find an inexpensive, safe, and easy-to-use way to beat pests, specifically bedbugs.

For the first time, the biology major will be attending the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), where she will present her research findings. SCCUR is an annual conference that showcases students from colleges all across Southern California in hopes of giving them better hands-on learning experiences in both the research process and presenting their research in a formal setting for an audience.

After studying in Associate Professor of Biology David Mbora’s writing seminar class, which fused research into the course, she submitted a mini-grant research proposal to the National Science Foundation. There are four such research-focused writing seminars offered by the biology department, supported by the National Science Foundation. Delgadillo was one of eight first-years at Whittier selected by a panel of reviewers to continue her research, and she spent the summer in the lab testing the bedbugs and how they would react to two different natural remedies: an essential oil mixture and a tea tree oil treatment.

Delgadillo’s writing seminar class prepared her well for this research project and Mbora supported her throughout her entire research process.

“It was a joy to work with Felicia on this project,” Mbora said. “She is meticulous, can create, set and achieve clear [research] goals and has a capacity for extended, sustained effort and concentration.”
Delgadillo said that “when the time comes for me to finally present my research, I will be more than ready.”

“This was very exciting to me because I can now confidently say that I do have a fairly solid remedy for bed bugs with evidence to prove it, which means I could potentially help out a lot of people in the world,” Delgadillo said about her findings. Delgadillo was pleased to discover that both of her natural remedy treatments were effective in eliminating the bedbugs. The essential oil mixture, specifically, was extremely efficient in eliminating them.

Delgadillo ultimately wishes for her research to be published in a scientific journal. She also hopes to further her research by applying to another fellowship next year to find exactly what worked within the essential oil remedy to eliminate the bed bugs.

Written by Fionna Tejada '22