In the fall of 2021, Lake Erie College School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (SNSM) faculty Dr. Deborah Schulman and Dean Dr. Johnathan Tedesco will be rolling out a new research program in Austin Hall of Science. In collaboration with the Small World Initiative (SWI), students in the SNSM will contribute to the crowdsourcing of antibiotic discovery, providing them valuable real-world hands-on experience in data collection and reporting. The rise of antibiotic resistance among human pathogens is of huge global concern and clinical importance and the international effort put forth by the SWI is valuable not only in training students in laboratory techniques, but in the potential identification of novel molecules for clinical use.
Dr. Schulman said, “Dr. Tedesco and I are now SWIPIs (SWI principal investigators). We completed a training course in the science and pedagogy of this program and are excited to combine old and newly gained skills to implement it. This will also be a great way to continue analyzing the microbiome of the soil along with our collaborators at Holden Arboretum.”
Dr. Bryan DePoy, Lake Erie College’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, states that “Lake Erie College’s participation in SWI is an exemplary example of how we can leverage participation in world-wide initiative and integrate it with faculty and student driven research and real-world experiences. Drs. Schulman and Tedesco are to be commended for their work to ensure our students have access to such vibrant learning opportunities.”
In the LEC microbiology course (BI205L) students will collect soil samples and identify bacteria that produce antibiotic molecules. Along with the microbiology students, Dr. Schulman's cell and molecular biology (BI203L) students will use molecular techniques including PCR and sequencing of 16S rRNA to further identify interesting strains. SNSM chemistry and biology students will have the opportunity to continue this work in the organic chemistry laboratory (CH211), headed by Dr. Tedesco. “Organic chemistry students will be able to characterize, on the structural level, any organic compounds produced by isolates demonstrating antibiotic activity. Students will get to apply skills and techniques learned in their previous chemistry labs including TLC, chromatography, and infrared spectroscopy,” he explained. Of course, as Dr. Tedesco notes, candidate compounds identified at LEC would require formal verification of efficacy and safety, but could ultimately be used in a clinical setting to treat infection.
Participating students will be encouraged to participate in yearly challenges presented by the SWI such as “The Do Something Challenge.” In addition, they will be encouraged to continue their work beyond the laboratory courses, as capstone projects and for formal publication and presentation at scientific conferences such as the American Society for Microbiology,
American Chemical Society, or The Ohio Academy of Science annual meetings. Please direct any questions about this programming or other opportunities in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.