Foraging in the Forest: Student Projects at Drew

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By: Nina Campli, Assistant Editor of Student Life and Arts

This week Foraging in the Forest led us to the Science department, where a number of students are working with professors on scientific research. Ryann Callaghan (‘19) is one such student. Under the guidance of RISE Fellow, Dr. Neal Conors, Callaghan is researching the production of a novel antibiotic, kibdelomycin. This antibiotic is produced by the bacteria Kibdelosporangium sp. The goal of the research is to increase the production of kibdelomycin through various different methods. By increasing the production, it would allow the antibiotic to be purified in larger amounts so its structure can be experimented with chemically. Callaghan said, “In order to one day be used safely in medicine, alterations will need to be made to its structure.”

She says that she was interested in this research because “In my Microbiology class we learned about the antibiotic resistance crisis. Essentially, many bacteria have become resistant to the antibiotics we use and are no longer able to be killed.”

The antibiotic has been found to have “broad-spectrum gram-positive activity.” This means that it can be used against several types of bacteria. She added, “Some of the most notable are Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Streptococcus pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis, and Haemophilus influenzae.

Callaghan hopes to build this work into her honors thesis next year, saying, “I’d probably incorporate the work I’ve already done as well advise a project on the purification of kibdelomycin.” However, after her time at Drew she is uncertain how and if she will help continue this research or pursue something similar.

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