The Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge

In November 2016, as part of our Do Something Challenge™ series, the Small World Initiative® teamed up with The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to encourage students to do something about the antibiotic crisis in recognition of the CDC’s 9th Annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week (November 14-20). This coincided with global activities from the World Health Organization, European Union, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and similar organizations in Canada and Australia. A team of students from North Carolina State University took home first place.

Winner Profile

Class MB360 at North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University’s Department of Biological Sciences has a strong Microbiology program dedicated to the personal and academic success of its students. Its students have the opportunity to take classroom-based undergraduate research experiences such as MB360, a Small World Initiative (SWI) course. Students work on an authentic research project, the discovery of new antibiotics from soil microorganisms, to address the problem of antibiotic resistance. MB360 is a small class of ten students taught by Professor Alice Lee and Doctoral Candidate Paige Nemec. Students in the class have a strong interest in microbial research with the majority being Microbiology majors. Students come from diverse backgrounds and training, but collectively, they have a shared passion for contributing to change in the field of antibiotic research. The class was particularly excited to spread awareness of antibiotic resistance through community outreach. As part of the SWI-CDC Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge, the class brainstormed awareness events and activities. Within a month, they had conceived of and implemented the four key events for the challenge: holding two public outreach events at large venues (NC Museum of Natural Sciences and NC State’s Talley Student Center), applied their artistic talents to painting a section of their campus “free expression tunnel” to highlight antibiotic awareness, and created a mannequin challenge video using their lab as a backdrop, which was then disseminated on YouTube. A compilation video of these efforts was created and further distributed to the university and department communications team. Every student was able to stand out among their peers and contribute their unique skills and perspectives to the challenge. As a large land-grant institution and a Research I University, NC State is tackling the world’s toughest problems. Its students are rising to meet global challenges such as antibiotic resistance through research and raising awareness. The ten students in MB360 truly exemplify NC State’s mantra: THINK AND DO.

Winning Team Members

  • Emily May
  • Hayley Payne
  • Jonquil Cothren
  • Hunter Hudson
  • Brian Ford
  • April Malone
  • Andrew Dalrymple
  • Ayumi Deloach
  • Patrick Sheehan
  • Jarin Tasnim
  • Paige Nemec (Graduate TA)
  • Dr. Alice Lee (Professor)

Winner Board

Winner – Class MB360 at North Carolina State University (SWIPI – Dr. Alice Lee)

Honorable Mentions

  • Microbiology and Immunology Students' Association at McGill University (SWIPI – Dr. Samantha Gruenheid)
  • Ceci Valenzuela at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (SWIPI – Dr. Victor Cid)
  • Class at Baton Rouge Community College (SWIPI – Dr. Mary Miller)

Entries (listed in alphabetical order)

1. Baton Rouge Community College – Pier Wells (Mary Miller's class)

This team put together a citizen science project and held a 3-hour hands-on event reaching 260 students (180 of which were non-biology majors).

2. Johnson County Community College – Nge-Nkeng Nicoline

This student created survey for people at her school and place of work to find out how many people have heard about antibiotic-resistant infections and whether they felt it should be a concern to the government and world. Her paper on the results can be downloaded here.

3. McGill University – Joy Tseng (MISA)

Students in McGill Microbiology and Immunology (MIMM) made and sold microbial crafts (MiCrafts), including microbe plushies, keychains, pins, and stickers and raised more than $500 to donate to the Small World Initiative to help train more educators from under-resourced schools. The student crafters recounted stories about how even the process of making these pieces at home, at school, and on public transportation often led to interesting awareness-building conversations with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers, and it proved to be a fun way to link academia and the public. Each plushie took on average 3 hours to knit, and each cross-stitched keychain took about 1 hour to make. Due to international demand in these creative products, MiCrafts even made their way to eBay and were sold abroad. Given the enduring nature of the crafts, they will continue to be educational tools among those who purchased them. Throughout the challenge, McGill students used a lot of humor to garner interest and further their cause, much of it is posted here.

4. North Carolina State University – Emily May (MB360 Class)

A team made of up North Carolina State University MB360 class put together multiple events to raise awareness on antibiotic resistance during the month of November. The team uploaded a video compilation of four of these events, including a symposium at The Museum of Natural History in Raleigh, North Carolina (reaching more than 200 people), a mannequin challenge video (reaching 220 shares to date), painting of the Free Expression Tunnel (reaching thousands of passersby as the most trafficked tunnel on campus), and an information table at Talley Student Union (reaching about 100 people).

5. Southern Connecticut State University – Abi Athuni (plus teammates Paul, Maria, Mika)

Southern Connecticut State University students Abi, Paul, Maria, and Mika created a video to raise awareness on the antibiotic crisis. This video included helpful information plus four acting vignettes covering the overuse of antibiotics in the agricultural industry with crowded conditions, a doctor-patient interaction, a student conversation, and advice from an expert microbiologist. The students acted, directed, and produced the video and recruited the help of three pet actors. (No animals were harmed in the making of this great video.) The video has already reached more than 230 people.

6. Southern Connecticut State University – Atarrah Kelly

Atarrah Kelly at Southern Connecticut State University created an evil Kermit the Frog meme. (Note to Dr. Betsy Roberts – Good luck conserving plates with such ambitious student researchers!)

7. Southern Connecticut State University – Alyssa Spadaro

Alyssa Spadaro at Southern Connecticut State University created a success kid meme.

8. Southern Connecticut State University – Tamara Munoz

Tamara Munoz at Southern Connecticut State University created two memes using Kermit the Frog.

9. Universidad Complutense de Madrid – Alejandro García López, Paula San Segundo, Gonzalo Sainz (SWITAs); Dra. Belén Patiño (SWIPI)

SWI@Spain students from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid re-wrote the lyrics to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and released their own single with a field and laboratory music video retitled, "They Won't Survive." It is already up to around 2,000 views on Facebook and YouTube. The song is in English with Spanish subtitles. The new music group is deciding whether to go on tour with their performance.

10. Universidad Complutense de Madrid – Ceci Valenzuela

SWI@Spain student Ceci Valenzuela at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid designed a warning sticker to put on packages of antibiotics having been inspired by the sticker warnings added to cigarette boxes. She came up with this idea after thinking about who would be the best target for this information and concluding that it was people actually taking antibiotics. The sticker provides information on antibiotic resistance, has places to add the start and end date of the treatment, indicates how to dispose of the antibiotics when treatment is finished, and has a link to a website for more information. Ceci has already created and set up a very polished Spanish website on antibiotic resistance for the link since she could not find a simple one in Spanish. Talk about taking action and filling a void! She plans to continue the idea and run a test with the sticker in some local pharmacies. To visit the website, click here.

11. University of Pittsburgh – Joe DeDionisio

University of Pittsburgh student Joe DeDionisio designed a t-shirt that can be order online here. He reached 763 people with his design from posting it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

12. University of Pittsburgh – Bailey Smith (class)

Bailey Smith and her classmates at the University of Pittsburgh created a mannequin challenge video followed by some helpful information on antibiotic resistance. It is already up to 260 views on YouTube.

13. University of Pittsburgh – Daisy Ritenour

Student Daisy Ritenour at the University of Pittsburgh created a Buzzfeed Quiz titled, "How Much Do You Know About Antibiotics?" To date, nearly 400 people have taken the quiz, learning important information about the antibiotic crisis in the process. Take the quiz here.

14. Utah State University-Uintah Basin – Ramon Ruiz (BIOL 1610)

Ramon Ruiz and his fellow classmates in BIOL 1610 at Utah State University-Uintah Basin created a mannequin challenge video. You can see many of the laboratory protocols that students do to crowdsource antibiotic discovery as part of the Small World Initiative. The video can currently be viewed on our Facebook Global Community page and will be posted here once available.


Initial Announcement & Challenge Rules

The Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge

Are you a current or former Small World Initiative® student?

Enter our Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge to make a difference and win a prize.

The Small World Initiative® is teaming up with The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to encourage you to do something about the antibiotic crisis in recognition of the CDC’s 9th Annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week (November 14-20). This coincides with global activities from the World Health Organization, European Union, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and similar organizations in Canada and Australia.

As Small World Initiative students know, antibiotic resistance – when bacteria stop responding to the drugs designed to kill them – is possibly the most important infectious disease threat we face today. Just in September, the United Nations called antibiotic resistance “the greatest and most urgent global risk.” Without action, we risk turning back the clock to a world where simple infections could kill people as they did a century ago. In the US alone, more than 2 million people get infections from germs that are resistant to antibiotics – and at least 23,000 people die as a result, and the CDC just announced that more than 800,000 Americans may soon be at risk of acquiring untreatable gonorrhea each year. If we continue on our current path, projections from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance show that antibiotic resistance will kill 10 million people globally annually by 2050. That will be more than the number of people killed by cancer and diabetes combined.

We are running out of time on confronting one of the most pressing global challenges. Yet, we possess the ingenuity to solve this problem, and we already understand the key causes and many of the possible solutions. It is not too late if we respond effectively with global collaboration. You have a very important role to play in stemming antibiotic resistance, and we are calling on you to do something.

By far, the single most important action to slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to improve the mass-scale misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture. Up to half of all antibiotics use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Each year in the US, doctors write 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing use a national priority. On top of that, animals consume more than twice as many medically important antibiotics as humans, and nearly all of this consumption is for growth promotion or prophylactic.

Other factors include inadequate prevention and control of infections related to poor hygiene (wash hands!), access to proper sanitation and safe water, and immunization. In addition to taking action to slow the spread of infections, we need to employ new collaborative ways to find new antibiotics, and we need more people to join and support the Small World Initiative in our endeavor to crowdsource antibiotic discovery.

Consider what impactful action you can take to help solve the public health emergency of our time. What can you do to help raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and get others to act?

How to Enter

  1. You must be a current or former SWI student to be eligible. (You may enter as a team or individually.)
  2. Do something about the antibiotic crisis. Use one of our ideas (below) or create your own.
  3. Share what you did online via Twitter with @Team_SWI or through SWI’s Facebook Group Page. Include your full name, school, how many people you impacted, and the following hashtags: #dosomething #AntibioticSmart # AntibioticResistance. (Remember…if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Don’t let your important actions go unnoticed. Announce them online!)

Do Something About Antibiotics Ideas

Use these ideas or create your own! (Remember to get permission from your instructor if you are doing something on campus.)

  • Make a Video (max 5 minutes) – Be a director and/or an actor in your own medical genre classic bringing viewers on your journey to learn about the antibiotic crisis. Consider answering some of the following questions: What is antibiotic resistance? Why should you be concerned? What can you do about it? Where would you expect to find microbes that produce antibiotics? (For ideas, check out this winning entry from the Teen Genes Challenge judged by our very own Dr. Todd Kelson (BYU). Other interesting videos to get your creative juices flowing: sample 1 and sample 2.)
  • Organize an Event – Ever want to share your research with the community? Maybe, you want to host an open house and walk others through what you are doing and why it is important. Are you a movie lover? Consider screening an outbreak-style film with an important message on how to keep that from happening in real life.
  • Bake for Antibiotic Resistance – Do you like to practice your plating skills in the kitchen? Wonder what impact eating icing streaked, Petri-dish shaped cookies has on people? Hold an antibiotic-themed bake sale.
  • Measure – Wonder how many people at your school really wash their hands after using the restroom? Curious about whether your classmates demand antibiotics every time they feel sick? Create a mini-study and share your results. How does your school compare to national averages? What recommendations do you have for improvement?
  • Write a Song – Did you ever want to join The Voice but did not know how to incorporate your love for microbiology? Not a great singer but enjoy lip syncing while digging in soil and hunting for microbes? Make a funny song or lip sync about something related to antibiotic resistance.
  • Buzz – Create an online interactive quiz on buzzfeed to spread awareness on antibiotic resistance. Remember to follow their posting rules.
  • Fundraise – Add a fundraising element to your action. Consider using funds to help students at your school attend the Small World Initiative Symposium or donating to help the Small World Initiative train more educators from under-resourced schools. Film screenings and bake sales can have a fundraising element. Or, maybe, you want to design a catchy t-shirt on antibiotic resistance. Even better, create the next ice bucket challenge. Be sure to get permission from your instructor first. Let us know what you raise so that we can announce it during our Crowdrise fundraiser this month.
  • Passionate about something else? Consider how you might incorporate that into our Do Something Challenge.


The winning student or team will receive: 

A much-coveted mentoring session with Dr. Lauri Hicks

Dr. Hicks is a Medical Epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; the Medical Director for the CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work Program; the Director for the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion; a Commander in the US Public Health Service; and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She leads research on antibiotic use and resistance trends and serves as the Get Smart spokeswoman. Globally, she has fostered CDC, European Union, and World Health Organization collaboration leading joint antibiotic awareness observances. Her expertise is in bacterial respiratory diseases, outbreak investigations, and antibiotic resistance and use.

A Special Tour of the David J. Spencer CDC Museum with Expert Guillermo Sanchez

Imagine where you might fit in the history of public health as you tour the David J. Spencer Museum on a global health odyssey. Granted you might only be able to take advantage of this perk if you will be near Atlanta, Georgia.

CDC Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work Award Certificate

Perfect for Snapchatting your success to the world and proudly displaying on your wall.

CDC, Get Smart, and SWI Swag

International acclaim!

…or at least acclaim from the Small World Initiative and CDC Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work Program. Your award will be announced on our website and through social media, and you will be profiled online.

Note: All other student entries will be posted on a special page on the Small World Initiative website.


Wednesday, November 30th

How Winner Is Selected

The winner will be selected based on the reach and depth of the impact of his/her actions. A Selection Committee will be made up of persons from the Small World Initiative, SWI faculty, and the CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work Program. Any conflicted parties will not vote on the final winner.


Don’t be offensive! While we understand that there is sometimes a fine line between what one person considers funny and another person considers offensive, SWI leadership will make final determinations on what is offensive. Any offensive entries should be immediately taken down upon request.

Submission Usage

By submitting an entry, entrants agree that the Small World Initiative may use, repost, and publish entries. Entrants will be credited if/when their entries are used.

More Information

The Small World Initiative’s Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge™ is part of our Do Something Challenge™ series. For more information, please call us at 347-762-4818 or contact us

The Small World Initiative® is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, and donations to SWI are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.