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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Chemical Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jessica D Schiffman

Subject Categories

Bacteriology | Biomaterials | Food Biotechnology | Food Microbiology | Membrane Science | Polymer and Organic Materials | Polymer Science | Transport Phenomena


The persistence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens remains a primary concern for immunocompromised and critically-ill hospital patients. Hospital associated infections can be deadly and reduce the successes of medical advancements, such as, cancer therapies and medical implants. Thus, it is imperative to develop materials that can (i) deliver new antibiotics with accuracy, as well as (ii) uptake pathogenic microbes. In this work, we will demonstrate that electrospun nanofiber mats offer a promising platform for both of these objectives because of their high surface-to-volume ratio, interconnected high porosity, gas permeability, and ability to contour to virtually any surface. To provide biodegradability, biocompatibility, and little or no antibacterial resistance, biopolymers and plant essential oils will be used. The first system explores the engineered incorporation, characterization, delivery, and antibacterial activity of two structurally different essential oils from chitosan-poly(ethylene oxide) nanofiber mats and chitosan thin films. The incorporation of both chitosan and the essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, produced a wider range of antibacterial efficacy against Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa than when chitosan or cinnamaldehdye were used alone. The second system features cellulose fibers to fundamentally study the use of nanofibers for the collection of bacteria. Nanofiber mats outperformed the two commercial fibrous materials, by collecting high quantities of three medically relevant bacteria strains. Additionally, polyelectrolyte-functionalized cellulose nanofiber mats demonstrated the ability to tune both the collection and inactivation of bacteria for specific applications. Overall, biopolymer nanofiber mats electrospun in this work demonstrate the successful collection and inactivation of medically relevant bacteria, and thus, are an ideal platform for biomedical applications.