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Freshman Research Initiative Spotlight: Discovering Antibiotics

Freshman Research Initiative Spotlight: Discovering Antibiotics

With the arrival of the spring semester, hundreds of first-year undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences will join one of over 27 research streams in the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI), searching for answers to some of modern science's most pressing questions, and gathering important research experience along the way.

 Students from the Antibiotics Discovery and Function stream search for new antibiotics in the very soil of UT's campus. They take samples from the earth just outside the lab and various other locations around campus, and search for bacteria within those samples.

"Humans are really bad at discovering antibiotics on their own through chemistry," said Gregory Palmer, a research educator in the Antibiotics stream. "One thing we can do is look in nature for new types of molecules that will actually have the kinds of activities we want. In this case, it's the ability to kill other bacteria."

Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, these samples are compared to existing antibiotics. If a new antibiotic producer is found, students purify the antibiotic through chromotography techniques and conduct pharmacological testing to determine its efficacy in killing other bacteria and fighting plant infections.

As in other FRI labs, students quickly learn the discipline and confidence required to do real science. Student mentor Anthony Osborne, reflecting on his first year in the lab, said, "It's been very helpful. I think I grew up working in the lab a little bit. It taught me to be more independent and more open-minded."

This is the second installment in a series of spotlights on FRI streams. Read about how two nanomaterials streams are shaping the face of industrial chemistry here.

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Comments 1

 
Guest - Richard Phillips on Sunday, 17 May 2015 23:37

Nice Article & Post... I Like This Post...

Bacterial Infection

Nice Article & Post... I Like This Post... Bacterial Infection
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