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Assessing Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistance in the Environment (PARE) banner

The Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistance in the Environment (PARE) project is a short duration, low-cost, course-based research module and citizen-science driven research project. Its goals are two-fold: large-scale monitoring of the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms in the environment, and providing a low-hurdle pathway for instructors to begin implementing research in their classrooms.

Several prominent reports (e.g. the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Engage to Excel (pdf), National Research Council Bio 2010 (link), AAAS Vision and Change (link)) convey the importance of early authentic research experiences for improving interest and persistence in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). The short duration, low-cost PARE project aims to make it easier to start introducing students to authentic research practices within the confines of a structured laboratory class.

In this citizen-science driven initiative, students collect soil samples and PAREmapWcaptionuse classic microbiological laboratory techniques to determine the relative number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Their data is collected in a national database used to monitor antibiotic resistant hotspots on a nation-wide scale. Students gain a sense of importance and ownership over their laboratory work knowing that it will be used in a real scientific study.

The entire project can be completed in a couple of class periods at low cost. Many instructors choose to expand the project in subsequent years by adding on follow-up experiments, data analysis, or student presentations. Implementation materials and the research plan are designed to be accessible to instructors from a variety of institution types serving a broad demographic of students. Partnerships can be formed between college and high school biology classes to bridge social and professional connections for both students and faculty.

The program is evaluated using the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) survey and skills-based student survey. Despite the short duration of the project, students show modest gains in several areas. Current assessment includes capturing whether students have learned basic mathematical and methods skills associated with the project.


PARE in the News

“What do cow poop, toilets and piles of trash have to do with the ability of humans to fight infectious disease? Gwynedd Mercy University Biology students and Lansdale Catholic High School Honors Environmental Science students teamed up to find out. […] The PARE project is just one example of how Gwynedd Mercy University students are partnering with other student scientists to apply the skills they are learning in class to real-world research opportunities.” — Dr. Stacey Lettini, Associate Professor of Biology (GMercyU Biology and Lansdale Honors Environmental Science Students Participate in National PARE Project, April 2016)

“Participation in this citizen science project allowed Westerville’s AP Biology students to be a part of authentic lab work contributing to a national research initiative. The experience also gave them insight into the career field of molecular genetics.” — Lyndsey Manzo, Science Curriculum Specialist (High School AP Biology Classes Participate in National Yale University PARE Project, October 2015)

“[This opportunity] might turn a kid on to doing science who hadn’t considered it as a future path before. Also, even for kids who don’t pursue science, this experience improves their science literacy, and it educates them as global citizens.” — Ann Brokaw, Biology Teacher (Summer Sophomores Collaborate with Hiram College, Yale University [pdf], summer 2015)


Student Testimonials

“It has shown me that research is very possible for my future.”

“The research experience helped me realized I could do things that I considered challenging.”

“It was cool to talk to college students.”

“Research has helped enlighten me to the scope of research that is needed for understanding some of the more complex social and environmental problems.”

“I now am considering doing psychological research because I really enjoyed feeling like a scientist with the PARE study. I know its not likely that I will be using tubes and MAC plates with psych research, but I really like the process of collecting and analyzing data in a controlled setting. I didn’t think that would be something I found enjoyable, but it is.”

Get Involved

A limited number of undergraduate instructors are accepted into the program each year. Each undergraduate instructor identifies a partnering high school instructor. Applications for the 2016-2017 academic year can be submitted via SurveyMonkey link.

Contact Carol to learn more.

PARE downloads for 2016-17

Follow @PARE_Project on Twitter!