Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Kassing, E. 2022. Tiny Earth, Tinier Microbes: An Experiential Learning Approach to Antibiotic Discovery. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


At time of publication, data collection for this study was incomplete. Results and conclusions of publication reflect this status.


Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest global health challenges of the 21st century as antibiotic discovery has slowed even as scientific knowledge about AMR has progressed. At the same time, science education has turned to active learning approaches like CUREs, or course-based undergraduate research experiences, to achieve educational objectives while engaging students in real-life research. The Tiny Earth Project is a global research initiative that seeks to crowdsource antibiotic discovery by recruiting undergraduate students to screen soil samples for antibiotic producers. The goal of this study was to determine the viability of translating the Tiny Earth programming to a large-scale high school audience as assessed by the 3 aims of helping students develop 1) microbiology laboratory skills, 2) experimental design skills, and 3) positive scientific identity. Qualitative observations of 3 students in this pilot study suggest there is potential for expansion of the Tiny Earth project to a pre-undergraduate level, although data collection is still underway.