Students Explored Antimicrobial Resistance in Research Methods Course

Students in a laboratory culturing bacteria cells.

In Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Instructor Kari Hodge’s Bioprospecting: Drugs from Bugs class, students spent the semester exploring the many facets of the antimicrobial resistance crisis. The course, a part of the Small World Initiative, is a research methods lecture and laboratory course framed around identifying strains of bacteria that may produce novel antibiotic compounds.

Students playing a game called Bacteria Land during a class.
Students playing a game called Bacteria Land during class.

In January, students enrolled in the course partnered with a local elementary school to screen soil, snow and leaf litter for bacterial growth. Building on their initial experiences, the UVM students spent the rest of the semester collecting their own soil samples, identifying diverse bacterial colonies, screening these against safe relatives of ESKAPE pathogens to identify potential candidates demonstrating inhibition of the safe relatives. Finally, the students attempted to isolate their secondary metabolites to determine if these could be used as antibiotics. Along the way, they practiced evaluating and reporting on primary literature, learned fundamental laboratory skills and created and presented scientific posters to summarize their findings.

For their final project, the UVM students were asked to create a product that could both demonstrate the relevance and severity of the AMR crisis and inspire younger students to pursue careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics). Hodge happily shared these graphic novels, stories, games and a music video with the elementary school students from Brewster Pierce Memorial School in Huntington, VT on May 19, 2022.

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