Packers provide field soil to 'Tiny Earth' UWGB global research project

Published: Sep. 9, 2019 at 5:11 PM CDT
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The Green Bay Packers partnered with UW-Green Bay as part of a global research project looking to fight against the rise of drug-resistant diseases. Tiny Earth is an initiative using a global network of college students to identify new life-saving antibiotics produced by bacteria in soil.

“Soil is a very rich trove of places where microbes live, bacteria live, and in particular bacteria and other organisms that produce antibiotics,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of Tiny Earth.

This year the Green Bay Packers offered up some soil from its practice field to be used in Tiny Earth's research with students at UWGB.

“We look to UW Green Bay for being a growing and more impactful partner in the community,” said Aaron Popkey, Public Affairs Director of the Green Bay Packers.

Student researchers will analyze the soil bacteria, and then present those findings during the Tiny Earth Titletown Symposium in December at Lambeau Field.

UWGB said 700,000 people around the world die each year from drug-resistant diseases, saying common diseases are becoming untreatable.

It's students like Morgan Courier, a human biology/health science major, who want to make a difference. She said, “It’s really cool that the packers are willing to show that no matter who you are, it's important to help out the community.”

UWGB said the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria will only intensify.

“Over time because we recognize how important soil is in terms of discovery of new drugs but there's this alarming trend of soil erosion, that we have too, it takes about 100 years to generate a centimeter of soil,” said UWGB Biology Professor Brian Merkel.

Merkel said it's about awareness in using antibiotics more effectively but the goal is to also discover more drugs to help this worldwide crisis.