Carol Bascom-Slack, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Medical Education
Tufts University School of Medicine
Crowd-sourcing Environmental Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance Through Undergraduate Course-Based Research

Emerging resistance to antimicrobials threatens human health globally. Resistant bacteria have been documented in various environments, such as drinking water, food, sewage, and soil, yet surveillance and sampling has largely been from infected patients or limited geographic areas. There is consensus that environmental surveillance is an important first step in forecasting and targeting efforts to prevent spread and transmission of resistant microbes. However, efforts to date have been limited. The Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment (PARE) is a classroom-based research project that engages students around the globe in systematic environmental surveillance with the goal of identifying areas where prevalence is high. The format of PARE, designed as short classroom research modules, lowers common barriers for participation in course-based research, and has proven successful in attracting instructors at a range of instructional contexts and institution types. Longitudinal tracking of instructors suggests that the module nature of PARE leads to sustained and expanded classroom research programs and, despite the short duration, students show significant learning gains.


Dr. Carol Bascom-Slack received her Ph.D. from Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences where she studied the dynamics of chromosome segregation to understand the underlying cause of conditions such as Down Syndrome. After post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, she taught undergraduates at Yale University for 15 years. While at Yale, she co-taught Yale’s first course-based research experience (CURE) for undergraduates. She later worked closely with Dr. Jo Handelsman to develop and co-teach the first iteration of Tiny Earth, an antibiotic discovery CURE. Most recently, she developed the Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment (PARE) program. PARE engages undergraduates in an authentic classroom research experience to shed light on environmental presence of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) microbes and educate about stewardship. Thousands of undergraduates and high school students across the U.S. and internationally contribute GPS-tagged AMR prevalence data to a database. Dr. Bascom-Slack’s research program is rooted in the social sciences to understand faculty motivations and barriers to integrating authentic experiences into their classes.

This lecture was recorded and can be viewed on the EPAASM YouTube Channel
click here: Virtual Lecture