Luther sophomore Eness carries out research on drug resistant bacteria funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Bacteria can adapt rapidly to environmental changes or responses of an immune system. For his summer research project Max Eness, Luther College sophomore of Ames, Iowa, is researching the drug resistance of bacteria found in bodies of water around Decorah.

Eness, the son of Daniel and Betsy Eness, of Des Moines, Iowa, is a 2016 graduate of Ames High School. He is majoring in philosophy and environmental studies at Luther.

"[Research] has allowed me to practice communicating facts about the environment and more deeply understand the connections between the land and quality of life for humans" said Eness.

Working alongside Eric Baack, Luther associate professor of biology, Eness and several other students are isolating bacteria from springs and streams used for recreation in NE Iowa and testing the bacteria's resistance to antibiotics. As bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics, the effectiveness of drugs to cure or prevent infections drops. Drug resistant bacteria threaten to change basic health care practices that rely on antibiotics, and identifying possibilities of contamination in local communities helps to address the issue.

The group's collaboration is funded through a grant to Luther College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide range of experiential learning opportunities at Luther intended to deepen the learning process and that are part of Luther's academic core.

Eness has presented preliminary results of this research at several meetings, including the Iowa Water Conference and a meeting on "Livestock, Karst and Water Quality" sponsored by the Iowa Environmental Council.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: