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BTC Instructor Joins Initiative to Fight Shortage of New Antibiotics

January 23, 2019

Blackhawk Technical College joins the Tiny Earth initiative to address a global critical health crisis: antibiotic resistance. BTC Microbiology instructor, Daniel Harrigan, has been selected to be a part of a network of instructors and students focused on crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery from soil.

The Tiny Earth Program Initiative (TEPI) is a global network of students and instructors dedicated to discovering new antibiotics from soil and creating engaging laboratory coursework. The program includes nearly 10,000 students in 45 states and 15 countries. It was originally launched by Jo Handelsman in 2012 at Yale University but is currently headquartered at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Its mission is two-fold: to encourage students to pursue careers in science through real-world, applicable laboratory research, and to address the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. 

“All of us at BTC are very excited for the purposeful application and experience it will provide agribusiness, microbiology and lab technician students,” said BTC faculty member Daniel Harrigan.

BTC students in the Lab Technician Program, Medical Lab Technician Program, and General Microbiology courses will be among those participating in the initiative. In addition, students from the Agribusiness Program will be helping collect diverse soil samples. Tiny Earth’s student scientists will hunt for new antibiotic organisms in soil samples; many of them will be experiencing the scientific method in action for the first time,

As part of the curriculum, BTC faculty Kathi Winker and Kevin Holmin will help the students characterize their potential discoveries. Harrigan continued, “As we launch and expand the program here at BTC, we plan to include K-12 and other community partners because outreach and providing engaging scientific education is part of the initiative.”

Harrigan and other partner instructors from institutions across the U.S. recently attended an intensive five-day training hosted at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Tiny Earth leverages a network of partner institutions where instructors learn the curriculum and incorporate best practices into their classes. Adding new instructors is part of Tiny Earth’s commitment to engage schools, departments, colleges and aspiring scientists across the globe.

For more information about Tiny Earth visit tinyearth.wisc.edu. To learn more about the initiative at Blackhawk Technical College contact Daniel Harrigan at dharrigan@blackhawk.edu.

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