A Low-Cost, Hands-on Module to Characterize Antimicrobial Compounds Using an Interdisciplinary, Biophysical Approach
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We have developed a hands-on experimental module that combines biology experiments with a physics-based analytical model in order to characterize antimicrobial compounds. To understand antibiotic resistance, participants perform a disc diffusion assay to test the antimicrobial activity of different compounds and then apply a diffusion-based analytical model to gain insights into the behavior of the active antimicrobial component. In our experience, this module was robust, reproducible, and cost-effective, suggesting that it could be implemented in diverse settings such as undergraduate research, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) camps, school programs, and laboratory training workshops. By providing valuable interdisciplinary research experience in science outreach and education initiatives, this module addresses the paucity of structured training or education programs that integrate diverse scientific fields. Its low-cost requirements make it especially suitable for use in resource-limited settings.
1 Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, United States of America, 2 Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Department of Physics, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, United States of America, 3 Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, United States of America