Luther College student researches antibacterial resistance

September 1, 2017

The landscape surrounding Decorah is home to many springs and streams, making it a prime destination for recreation. Unfortunately, these waters are also home to high levels of bacteria such as E. coli, particularly after summer rains. Tiwonge Chirwa, Luther College junior of Lilongwe, Malawi, was selected to research antibacterial resistance of bacteria inhabiting water sources in and around Decorah.

Chirwa, the daughter of Simon and Mercy Chirwa of Bangkok, Thailand, is a 2014 graduate of the Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa.

“I personally feel that this research is important because we are generating data that will be added to ongoing research which will help provide useful insight on antibacterial resistance,” said Chirwa. “This experience has helped me become a more inquisitive and active learner. Learning things in class is good, but putting what you learn to action is really mind-blowing.”

Chirwa worked with Eric Baack, Luther associate professor of biology, on her project.

The group’s collaboration was one of 26 summer student-faculty research projects funded through Luther’s College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. 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 selection of experiential learning opportunities at Luther intended to deepen the learning process and that are part of Luther’s academic core.

The results of the project will be presented at Luther’s Student Research Symposium in 2018.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,000, 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: