Tiny Earth is an innovative program that introduces students to scientific methods while addressing a worldwide health threat – the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Since its inception, as Small World Initiative (SWI), Tiny Earth has grown rapidly to include more than 275 participating undergraduate institutions and high schools across fourteen countries. At FAU, 192 students are engaged in Tiny Earth per semester and have discovered hundreds of antibiotic producing soil bacteria. We have established a research team partnering with FAU chemists with the goal of isolating and characterizing novel antibiotic compounds.
Dr. Jo Handelsman founded SWI in 2012 while at Yale University. She created SWI with the goal of strengthening STEM education, addressing the antibiotic crisis and sharing her passion for soil microbes. She is currently the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin Madison where she launched Tiny Earth to continue antibiotic discovery efforts. Previously she served as the Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology appointed by President Obama.