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Student Highlight: Elizabeth SchottenPhoto of young woman in dress, with white flowers and greenery behind her

Hello, my name is Elizabeth Schotten. I am a sophomore in the S.T.E.A.M program. I would describe myself as a science/math nerd with a love for biology and medical sciences. My project is "Antibiotic Resistance: Synthetic vs. Natural Antibiotics". In this project, I will be testing synthetic and natural antibiotics on E. coli, and measure the results to find which antibiotics will be more successful in eradicating the bacteria. I chose this project because I am very interested in molecular biology, and this seemed like a fascinating project to do. I was first interested in a project about stem cells, and upon some research, I found that was not something available to me. I had been struggling for a project idea feasible at the high school level. I was trying to figure out a project in my interests that I could expand upon and develop. I first stumbled upon the idea when I was reading some science fair project articles, and I saw in bold text ‘Synthetic Antibiotics vs. Natural Antibiotics’. The idea immediately intrigued; it that gave me all the inspiration I needed.

The problem question: What type of antibiotic is most effective in eradicating E. coli? Synthetic or Natural?

My hypothesis: It would make the most sense that synthetic antibiotics would be the most the effective in eradicating bacteria, in comparison to natural antibiotics, because synthetic antibiotics can be changed to resistant-developing bacteria. Bacteria have also been developing resistance to natural antibiotics for thousands of years.

My objectives of this project are to gain greater knowledge on antibiotic resistance through this project and to see if synthetic or natural antibiotics yields the best outcome in response to the problem question. This will also help light the path on the knowledge on the future of antibiotics.

I watched a TED Talk on How Bacteria "Talk" by Bonnie Bassler, I was inspired by her to investigate/research bacteria after watching her incredible presentation. It was so fascinating and I simply loved it. The presentation was about the communication of bacteria and how bacteria have interspecies and intraspecies communication through chemical messages. Dr. Bassler talked about the future of antibiotics, and to say I was enthralled with the presentation is an understatement at best. I was giddy and jumping up and down like a child on Christmas. Can one be too excited about science? My answer: never.

Link to TED Talk:

The STEAM Academy is a rigorous independent academic program, leading to a STEAM diploma. The program aims to develop students’ creativity, logic, determination, and communication skills while engaged in interdisciplinary learning. Students who are successful in STEAM fields must be curious, intuitive, and motivated.

The STEAM program involves a three-year commitment, beginning in 10th grade.

Students must maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA in order to continue enrollment in the STEAM program.

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