Diving Into Antibiotic Discovery

Students in the Research in Microbiology class donned their lab coats, goggles, and gloves this week as they continued their quest to combat superbugs and aid in the antibiotic discovery process.

The class is connected to the Small World Initiative (SWI), an innovative program that provides real-world laboratory and field research experiences to high school and university students around the world — all while addressing worldwide health threats posed by the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics.

On Wednesday, students observed bacterial growth on soil samples gathered from local sources and identified colonies, which they will gram stain in order to obtain more specific information about the organisms. Ultimately, students will test samples against ESKAPE pathogens — a group which includes six of the most common microbial organisms — to determine production of any resistant chemicals. Relevant findings will be reported to the SWI and added to the organization’s crowdsourced information bank, which will be used in research and development programs that combat antibiotic resistance.

Taught by science teachers Mrs. Cheryl Ellis and Mrs. Katie Cooper, Research in Microbiology builds on knowledge from courses such as Emerging Infectious Diseases, and focuses on valuable experiential learning opportunities — a key aspect of how girls learn best. Student research takes place in the school’s Biosafety Level 2 lab in the science wing, which includes a sub-20 freezer, incubators, centrifuge, and a miniPCR, which allows students to observe the genetic makeup of different organisms.

Learn more about Research in Microbiology and the Biosafety lab.

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