Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistance in the Environment (PARE)

Project Location

A "bite-sized" authentic research experience in microbiology for undergraduate and high school labs

Student Audience

Introductory, Major, Non-major

Scientific Domain

  • Environmental science
  • Microbiology

Nature of the Research

  • Wet lab/bench research
  • Field research
  • Informatics/computational research
  • Basic research
  • Database research

Core Concepts

  • Evolution: The diversity of life evolved over time by process of mutation, selection, and genetic change.

Core Competencies

  • Applying the process of science
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Understanding the relationship between science and society

Guiding Questions

  • What is antibiotic-resistance?
  • Where in our environment is antibiotic-resistance more prevalent?
  • What are environmental conditions that promote antibiotic resistance?

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the causes and potential consequences of antibiotic resistance
  • Use basic microbiology lab techniques
  • Critically analyze scientific data
  • Understand the benefits/purpose of citizen science generated data
  • Understand and identify potential sources of error in collecting scientific data


The goal of the PARE project is to provide a pathway for instructors to implement research into their classrooms. 

Students collect soil samples and use classic microbiological laboratory techniques to determine the relative number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This information is entered into a global database used to monitor antibiotic resistance in our environment. In this way, students are playing a critical role in collecting data for a real scientific research project.  Students report gains in attitudes and behaviors associated with identity as a scientist, as well as gains in confidence and collaboration skills.

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 are formed between college undergraduate classrooms and high school biology classes to bridge social and professional connections for both students and faculty.


2-6 hours

Class time

2-3 lab class days