Current Initiatives and Courses
PARE Undergraduate-High School Citizen Science Partnership
The Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistance in the Environment (PARE) project is a short, low-cost, authentic research module in which counts of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are obtained from local soil samples. Implementation materials and the research plan are designed to be accessible to instructors from a variety of institution types serving a broad demographic of students. Partnerships are formed between college undergraduate classrooms and high school biology classes to bridge social and professional connections for both students and faculty.
We had a total of 9 undergraduate and 11 high school instructor participants and over 500 students participating. We established over 275 student-generated data points representing 14 states. Both students and instructors completed assessments and undergraduate instructors met at the American Society of Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) in May 2015 to exchange thoughts and ideas about the program.
We are currently recruiting instructors for the 2015-2016 academic year. Revised implementation materials will be available in early July 2015. The invitation letter can be accessed here:
Applications can be found here:
Small World Initiative
The Small World Initiative evolved from the Microbes to Molecules course (see below) and is an international initiative to crowd-source the discovery of antibiotics. Our Small World Initiative team has created instructional materials for other instructors to implement this combination lecture and research-based course. In the Spring semester of 2014, we launched the program with 26 participating institutions across the U.S.
Microbes to molecules (MCDB 166)
Microbes to Molecules is a research-based course that teaches a majors-based introductory biology curriculum in the context of an authentic research project. This is an antibiotic-discovery course in which students collect a soil sample, isolate bacteria from the sample, and assay for the ability to produce antibiotics. Students who wish to continue with chemical characterization of their potential antibiotics are encouraged to do so in MCDB 167. The course targets freshman science majors or any early undergraduate interested in an authentic research experience.
Previous Initiatives and Courses
The Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory (MB&B 230)
The Rainforest Course was developed to offer upper-level undergraduates an opportunity to engage in authentic bench research and field work. Students cultivate fungi from plants collected during a field expedition to the forests of South America. These fungi are tested for antibiotic activity as well as an activity of choice. Throughout the spring semester, students determine an assay of interest in which to test their fungal isolates and begin testing fungal isolates in the assay during an intensive 10 week summer research experience. Many students choose to continue this research beyond the summer in conjunction with a collaborating faculty member on campus. Previous fungal isolates have shown plastic-degrading activity, inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus, and anti-inflammatory activity.