GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Science students from across Wisconsin are looking to slow down the world's "antibiotic crisis."
As bacteria mutate over time, they gain resistance to the antibiotics that are supposed to kill them. With this, the world is running out of effective antibiotics, so students have been looking to discover new ones through the Tiny Earth curriculum.
This is crucial work, explained Angelo Kolokithas, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College's director of biology. "People will start to die again of things like strep throat unless we do something about it," he explained.
Through Tiny Earth, students around the world are researching dirt samples to hopefully isolate and characterize antibiotics that haven't been discovered yet. Kolokithas explained that most antibiotics come from nature -- the most common being penicillin, which comes from mold -- so researching dirt makes sense. The students then send their discoveries to Madison for further characterization.
Wisconsin students came together Friday evening to celebrate at the Tiny Earth in Titletown Symposium, presenting their findings in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Beyond looking to mitigate antibiotic resistance, students are looking to inspire the next generation of scientists. They're also celebrating the value of collaboration and the discoveries they made along the way in their research.
"The students realize they are part of something that’s bigger than themselves and they’re contributing to an international effort," said UW-Green Bay Biology Professor Brian Merkel. "This goes beyond a celebration of research. This is a visionary idea to help our students get excited about STEM careers while building an international network."
The community can help mitigate antibiotic resistance by not overusing antibiotics. If you're prescribed them, though, you should complete your entire prescription. Kolokithas explained that even if you're feeling better, there are still likely bacteria in your system. Not killing them off gives them billions of chances to mutate and become resistant to the drug.