Tiny Earth, Big Impact

Congratulations to Prof. Brian Merkel, campus support personnel and everyone who took part in the Tiny Earth event at the Lambeau Field Atrium, Friday, Dec. 7. Attendance alone (about 250 attendees) was impressive for the inaugural event. In addition, UW-Green Bay students took first and third place (out of 56) for their research posters.

Tiny Earth 4
First place, left to right, Halee Behrens and Katlynn Tappy

“Tiny Earth in Titletown is an excellent example of the great things that can happen when people work together to address big, complex problems for the common good,” Merkel said.

Thirty-five judges worked in teams of three to evaluate each poster presentation. Judges asked questions during a 10-minute evaluation period. Students were ranked on their ability to present the information, methods, results, conclusions, literature cited, future directions related to their research and their ability to answer questions.

Halee Behrens and Katlynn Tappy took first place for their research poster presentation, “Discovery of Broad Spectrum Antibiotic Producing Soil Bacteria.”

Taking third place, left to right, Emanuel Hernandez and Sam Engel

Taking third place: Sam Engel and Emanuel Hernandez for their poster, “Isolation and Characterization of Soil from Kennedy Park in Green Bay, Wis.”

The prize winners will continue their research as independent study research projects, according to Merkel. One of the three is considering changing his career aspirations from veterinary medicine to microbiology. An additional benefit, according to Merkel, is that some of the event judges are leaders from micro-based companies from the region.

“There is good chance that opportunities could arise for these students because the leaders from these businesses are familiar with the student’s background and expertise in microbiology,” Merkel said.

Upon reflection, Merkel said the community partnership aspect was a personal highlight.

“Cherney Microbiological Services, led by former student, Steve Kuchenberg (Chief Operating Officer), Nature’s Way, MCW-Green Bay, Associated Bank all convening at the Tiny Earth in Titletown symposium to lending their time, expertise and financial support to student efforts to mitigate the world crisis of antibiotic-resistant bacteria against the backdrop of Lambeau Field made for a thrilling and inspirational evening.

Student speaker Putnam ’18 challenges peers to seek more knowledge, more kindness, more love

Lauren Putnam (Human Biology), was the Graduating Class Speaker for UW-Green Bay’s 2018 Winter Commencement Ceremony. A leader in her class and in the organizations that she works within, Putnam strives to lift up fellow students and up-and-coming high school students, to show them the careers and opportunities available in the health care fields. In her speech, she tells her peers that together, they have the capacity for more. See her remarks:

“To my fellow graduates: today we reflect. Reflect upon not only the sleepless nights, the shed tears and depleting bank accounts, but also the amazing friends and connections we have made at UW-Green Bay. Today marks a new beginning — our inaugural season. Some of you may be starting exciting new jobs and others may be going on to graduate school where you can advance your field of study. But as we move forward from UW-Green Bay, I think it is important to never forget where you came from; the people that have helped you along the way. I especially want to thank my friends, my supportive family, my faith community and the incredible faculty and staff in the Human Biology program. Thank you.

Rather than speak about my personal life, I want to focus on you all. Focus on the sacrifices you have made to be here as a college graduate. Sitting among us today, 54 percent of you are first generation college students. You all have advocated for yourselves and your education, navigating the arduous process of applications and financial aid. For that, I am so immensely proud of you. One percent of you are international students. You have made many sacrifices in order to achieve a better education. Unequal opportunities and barriers to success are everywhere; yet here you are, at the pinnacle of your educational career thus far. I hope that you continue to inspire your family, country, and community in whatever kind of work you choose to pursue. Six percent of you are veterans. Your courage, dedication, and commitment to serve our nation are appreciated. Thank you so much for your service.

While I don’t have the statistics for those of you who are married, engaged to be married or have children, I want to commend you on the tremendous love you have shown your spouses, fiancées and children. I cannot even begin to imagine the immeasurable sacrifices you all have given in the name of your education and family. Your love and endurance inspire me. There are so many other situations that I would love to recognize, but simply don’t have the time today. I just want you all to know that I understand the challenges you have overcome to be here. You are truly incredible. A big thank you goes to Dr. Jacobson with the Office of Institutional Strategy and Effectiveness for assisting me in acquiring the statistics used today.

Ephesians Chapter 3 Verse 20 states, ‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine…’ This verse has inspired the ‘Always More’ campaign by Audrey Roloff and affected people worldwide, including myself. Audrey’s campaign has revolutionized the way I live my life and before we depart, I want to leave it with you all.

The hard work and dedication that you all have displayed throughout your career here at UW-Green Bay should not stop today. As we move on, I urge you not to become stagnant in your lives. Remember the obstacles you have overcome to be here today. Remember that there is always more that you can do for your community.

Always more knowledge to gain.
Always more kindness to be had.
and always more love to give.
There is always. . . more.”

Congratulations Class of 2018!

‘Tiny Earth’ event is targeting global health crisis

UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Brian Merkel (Human Biology) considers his students the best medicine against the antibiotic resistance crisis, which is the reasoning behind the “Tiny Earth” event taking place on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 at Lambeau Field. “This is really a crowd sourcing effort, more specifically a student sourcing effort because students are being put on this important task and the more of us that do it, there’s a chance that we’re going to strike gold and find something new,” he says. Watch the story by WBAY-TV.

Brian Merkel and students

Dec. 7 event aimed at discovering new antibiotics

More than 200 registered for ‘Tiny Earth’ event at Lambeau Field

Green Bay, Wis. — Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. The “Tiny Earth” event at Lambeau Field on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Lambeau Field Atrium (Indoor Clubs, Fourth Floor) hopes to help combat that threat.

Tiny Earth, is a global network of educators who teach a college research course aimed at discovering new antibiotics. More than 100 student researchers and more than 250 registrants from colleges and universities across the state, and the general public, will participate in this week’s event.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Human Biology Prof. Brian Merkel (merkelb@uwgb.edu) is one of the organizers of the event. Merkel is also an adjunct faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW-Green Bay) with expertise in microbiology and immunology. He said this is the first of what he hopes is an annual Tiny Earth event in the Green Bay area.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about antibiotics,” Merkel said. “There are now pathogenic bacteria that are completely resistant to antibiotics. The ‘Tiny Earth’ aspect is essentially making the planet smaller by connecting with other like-minded researchers on college and university campuses throughout the world to student-source antibiotic discovery. It’s our hope that the Tiny Earth initiative will help us strike gold with new antibiotics.”

The Tiny Earth curriculum provides students with the opportunity for scientific discovery, thereby capturing the very aspects of science that inspire students to pursue STEM careers. Students are inspired both by the chance to do authentic science and to be part of a global effort addressing a looming public health crisis.

“For me, professionally, working with Tiny Earth has been a great opportunity, and I think that is the case for anyone who that really enjoys the idea of working together to address complex problems that help the common good,” Merkel said.

Merkel says the most promising antibiotic samples characterized in participating Tiny Earth lab courses will get shipped to UW-Madison to identify the chemical structure of the compounds.

“This analysis will help us understand if we have discovered a ‘new’ antibiotic. This is a highly valuable research partnership for UW-Green Bay,” Merkel said.

Merkel says that the support of his colleagues and the administration at both UW-Green Bay and MCW-Green Bay has been the key to an inaugural success of Tiny Earth Green Bay.

MCW-Green Bay, Cherney labs, Nature’s Way and Associated Bank are sponsoring the event.

Learn more.


Timing Is Everything | Lorenzo Lones | TEDxUWGreenBay

Timing Is Everything | Lorenzo Lones | TEDxUWGreenBay

Timing is often overlooked. Its never really considered to play a significant role in day-to-day life. In this talk, Lorenzo combines a personal story with research conducted at Washington University in St. Louis to explain why Timing is Everything. Lorenzo Lones is a neuroscience Ph.D. student at Washington University in St. Louis. He received bachelor of science degrees in Psychology and Human Biology from UW-Green Bay in 2016. Currently, he works in the lab of Dr. Aaron DiAntonio where he studies the molecular mechanisms underlying axon degeneration. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Discovering new antibiotics is focus of Dec. 7 event at Lambeau Field

There are more than 200 registered and 67 posters ready for presentation for the Tiny Earth event at Lambeau Field on Dec. 7, 2018. “Tiny Earth undergraduate students from across Green Bay and Wisconsin bent on a mission to discovery new antibiotics are convening at Lambeau Field on Friday to present their research,” said UW-Green Bay (and Medical College of Wisconsin instructor) Prof. Brian Merkel (Human Biology). The event is sponsored by Medical College of Wisconsin Green Bay and Cherney labs.

Tiny Earth is an innovative program spanning 44 states and 15 countries that inspires and retains students in the sciences while addressing one of the most pressing global health challenges of our century: the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Tiny Earth centers around an introductory biology course in which students perform hands-on field and laboratory research on soil in the hunt for new antibiotics.

The Tiny Earth in Titletown event was conceived by biology instructors and administrators at UW-Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) to showcase the innovative science, research, and teaching taking place in northeast Wisconsin. Participating institutions include UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, College of the Menominee Nation, Marian University, UW-Fond du Lac, Milwaukee Area Technical College, UW-Parkside, UW-Waukesha County, UW-Whitewater, UW-Rock County, Madison College, UW-Madison, Northcentral Technical College, and UW-River Falls.

The evening will include a student poster competition and a conversation discussing efforts by Wisconsin’s students to harness the full potential of the state’s soil to tackle the looming public health crisis, antibiotic resistance. Area scientists will judge student submissions and awards and prizes will be presented to winning students.

Please feel free to contact Brian Merkel (merkelb@uwgb.edu) for more information.



Faculty note: Prof. Pearson published research

“Since vitamin K is so integral to good bone health, it is natural to assume that it may be used to treat certain bone problems. Research by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay found that vitamin K has a positive effect on bone mineral density and decreases fracture risk. The research was recently published in The Science of Eating. UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Deb Pearson (Human Biology) is behind the research.