Antibiotics Unearthed

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'Antibiotics Unearthed' was a public engagement venture inspired by the Small World Initiative™, organised and managed by the Microbiology Society for four very successful years.

Antibiotics Unearthed gave the general public, students and educators throughout the UK and Ireland a unique opportunity to work with scientists as part of a global initiative to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria.

Most antibiotics in current use have come from soil bacteria. The Small World Initiative™, first organised by Yale University, continues to be an innovative and authentic research project, which uses crowdsourcing to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria. The Society took the project further by including school pupils and the general public.

During the project, undergraduate and school students analysed their samples for antibacterial compounds and investigated any potential compounds found. By taking part in real research, they experienced what it would be like to follow a scientific career and hopefully think about a future career in science.

A series of ‘pop-up’ events also took place across the UK and Ireland, giving members of the public an opportunity to submit their soil samples, make observations, speak to scientists and track online through the analysis process after the event.