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Examining how successive generations of bacteria build resistance to antibiotics earned University of Wisconsin-Superior biology student Eta Obeya an invitation to present her research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research later this month at the University of Montana.
The conference is the largest undergraduate research symposium in the country, bringing together 2,000 students from all fields and disciplines. Obeya will join students chosen from other University of Wisconsin System schools in flying to Missoula, Mont., for the April 15-17 conference.
"This conference is a chance for Eta to meet other students in science, and it's a great chance for people to see what kind of science is going on at UW-Superior," said Dr. Ralph Seelke, who advised Obeya on the project.
Obeya is concentrating in the study of cellular/molecular biology. She's from Abjua, Nigeria, and has been a UW-Superior student for four years. She plans to attend medical school after graduating this spring.
She began working on the research in 2008 with fellow student James Conner. They examined how exposing e. coli bacteria to low doses of three antibiotics - such as might occur if the drugs were improperly or incompletely administered -- enabled the bacteria to build resistance to the drugs over many generations. They also found that the successive generations of bacteria became more robust in general.
Obeya said the work made her much more conscious of the dangers bacterial infections could pose.
"It was interesting that bacteria can build resistance - and pretty fast, too," she said.
Obeya also presented her research last fall at the American Society of Microbiologists North Central branch meeting in La Crosse, Wis.
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