Celebrating studentsourced antibiotic discovery
for students and instructors

Register for the event
Wed, June 12 at 9 AM – 5 PM CDT | For TEPIs only
Thurs, June 13 at 9 AM – 5 PM CDT | For TEPIs & students

Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
University of Wisconsin-Madison
330 N Orchard St, Madison, WI 53715

The Tiny Earth Summer Symposium is a two-day event designed to showcase student research findings, delve into current advancements and challenges in antibiotic discovery, and engage instructors in sharing instructional innovations. Tiny Earth students and instructors will meet in-person at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for an opportunity to network with Tiny Earth researchers from around the globe.

Tiny Earth Partner Instructors (TEPIs) will convene on June 12th to engage and share new innovations in teaching and learning. TEPI Day will feature Tapas Talks, a series of bite-sized, dynamic presentations, plus new updates and content from Tiny Earth Headquarters including Scientific Teaching Course and Tiny Earth Discovery Database workshops. June 13th will feature student research poster sessions, plenaries from Dr. Jo Handelsman (UW-Madison) and Dr. Roselin Polugari (St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad), and a panel discussion: Diverse Perspectives to and from Microbiology.

Important Deadlines

Registration (EXTENDED): May 24
Lodging requests are now closed.

Student Research Poster Abstract: May 24
Student Research Posters are due on May 31

Instructor Tapas Talk Abstract: May 24
Tapas Talk Presentations (slides) are due on May 31

Registration & Lodging

Registration deadline EXTENDED to Friday, May 24th.
Lodging Requests are CLOSED. 

Register via eventbrite
Dietary Restrictions and preferences request

Note: Registration is required for attendance. Register and request lodging separately.

*A limited number of rooms are available. Lodging will be assigned on first come, first serve basis. Attendees are encouraged to register and request lodging at their earliest convenience for priority.

Instructors with students under the age of 18 who are interested in participating, reach out to tinyearth@wid.wisc.edu by April 15.

View campus map »
View building map »

Student Registration Fee: $30 | Instructor Registration Fee: $60
Use code “micro” for 10% off your registration when attending in groups of 4 or more!
Groups must include at least 3 students and group members must be attending from the same institution for the discount to apply. Attendees may register and use the code together or separately.


Free lodging for up to two (2) nights at University Housing is included with registration*.

  • Double/shared dorm for students
    • Single rooms requests assessed on a case-by-case basis
  • Single dorm for instructors

Additional nights may be purchased with registration for $40/night. Please also indicate any additional nights requested in the Lodging & Meals form.


  • Lunch is included with registration.
  • Dining hall breakfast tokens are included with University Housing lodging.
  • Dinner will not be provided.

View more information on parking, campus transportation, and alternative lodging »

Student Research Posters

Submit a Student Research Poster Abstract by Friday, May 24
Submit your final poster by Friday, May 31

submit a research poster abstract & Poster

What do I need for my submission?

By May 24:

  • Presenter names and contact information
  • Poster title
  • Poster abstract

By May 31:

  • Poster copy in PDF format

Share your Tiny Earth research findings with the network on June 13th!

Submit only one abstract per group. Coordinate with your group members to determine who will submit on your group’s behalf.

  1. Register for the event (individually or as a group; one ticket per student)
  2. Submit a Student Research Presentation abstract (as a group)
  3. Indicate your lodging requests and dietary restrictions (individually)
  4. Return to the initial abstract submission form to submit your final research presentation in PDF format by May 31 (as a group)
  5. Review the Student Presentation Guidelines & Expectations (Coming soon)
    1. Print and bring your poster to the event!

Instructor Tapas Talks

Submit a Tapas Talk by Friday, May 24
Submit presentation slides by Friday, May 31

Submit a Tapas Talk

What do I need for my submission?

By May 24:

  • Presenter name and contact information
  • Talk title
  • Talk abstract/description

By May 31:

  • 3-5 presentation slides (Google slides recommended)

Have updates regarding your antibiotic discovery research or want to share exciting instructional innovations? Present a 7-minute Tapas Talks during TEPI Day on June 12th!

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
    • Creating and adapting new and engaging courses for all kinds of learners; using evidence-based teaching practices; achieving diversity in STEM
  • Science and Discovery
    • Discovering new antibiotics, chemical structures, and genome sequences; new and effective protocols; interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research
  • Community Engagement
    • Designing activities and resources for school, communities, and citizen scientists; nurturing Tiny Earth’s community of instructors, students, and partners; tiny Earth events and related programs
  • Network Expansion and Training
    • Building a diverse and inclusive global community of Tiny Earth partners; hosting trainings


Join us on June 13 for exciting plenaries and panel discussions from experts in the field!

Plenary Speakers

Jo Handelsman, PhD
Tiny Earth Founder
Director, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
University of Wisconsin-Madison

In 2012 while at Yale University, Dr. Jo Handelsan created an undergraduate course entitled “From Microbes to Molecules” with the goals of strengthening STEM education by engaging first-year college students in authentic research, addressing the antibiotic crisis, and sharing her passion for soil microbes. Her vision, crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery, transformed the six-student introductory biology course into an international network of instructors and students across the world collaborating to discover new antibiotics.

Beyond Tiny Earth, Jo Handelsman is the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and a Vilas Research Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After receiving a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from UW-Madison in 1984, she joined the UW-Madison faculty where she served for 25 years before moving to Yale University in 2010. From 2014 to 2017, she served as a science advisor to President Barack Obama in her role as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. After leaving the White House, Handelsman returned to UW-Madison where she continues to work on national policy in STEM education, microbiology, soil conservation, and forensic science. In 2021 Handelsman published A World Without Soil, a book that presents the science underlying the soil erosion crisis and policy recommendations to avert it. Most recently, Handelsman was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2023. 

Handelsman is a renowned microbiologist whose research seeks to understand how soil microorganisms cooperate with and antagonize each other. She is known for pioneering the field of functional metagenomics, a term she coined. Handelsman has pushed the frontiers of knowledge with new approaches and original hypotheses about bacterial behavior in soil and human microbiomes. She has long studied the role of antibiotics as signals in microbial communities and has led initiatives to integrate microbiology with the computational sciences.

Handelsman has authored over 250 scientific research publications, 30 editorials, and 29 essays as well as six books about teaching and mentoring. She has been a leader in reform in STEM education, advocating for and training others in evidence-based teaching, a field she named “scientific teaching.” She started the Summer Institutes for Scientific Teaching, which are national workshops aimed at training faculty in evidence-based teaching methods. Handelsman also wrote Entering Mentoring, a guide to training mentors in good and equitable mentoring, which became the basis for an NIH-recognized, national program for training mentors led by Dr. Chris Pfund at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In recognition of her contributions to teaching and mentoring, Handelsman received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Obama in 2011.

Roselin Polugari, PhD
Head of Department of Microbiology
IQAC Coordinator
St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad, India

Dr. Roselin Polugari is the Head of Department of Microbiology and IQAC Coordinator at St. Francis College for Women in Hyderabad. Dedicated to both research and teaching for the past two decades, she has made herself a significant figure in the field of Microbiology, Biotechnology, and Nanomaterials.

She is a Co-Investigator for prestigious projects like the DST Wise Kiran CURIE Project and the UGC Major Research Project focusing on the antibacterial activity of ZnO nanoparticles and plant extracts against drug resistant organisms.

Dr. Polugari’s scholarly contributions are evident through her publications in both national and international journals, as well as her presentations at renowned conferences globally. Her receipt of travel grants from UGC and prestigious awards such as the IUPAB Travel Award and the Best Paper Award further attest to the quality and impact of her research endeavours.

Beyond her research pursuits, Dr. Polugari has actively engaged in various academic and administrative responsibilities within her institution. Her involvement in guiding students for their projects, coordinating postgraduate programs, her role as the Dean of Student Affairs, Coordinator for the Science Club and contributing to internal quality assurance initiatives underscores her commitment to fostering academic excellence and student development.

Dr. Roselin Polugari’s active participation as a Co-Chair at International Conference on Microbiological Research: Current Challenges and Future Perspectives, Panel member for webinars and resource person for seminars and workshops reflects her commitment to knowledge dissemination and academic collaboration. Her service excellence award in 2023 is a testament to her outstanding contributions to the institution and the field of microbiology.

Dr. Polugari’s multifaceted contributions as a researcher, educator and academic administrator highlight her integral role in advancing scientific knowledge and nurturing the next generation of scholars in microbiology and related disciplines.

On personal front she is married to Mr. Nathaniel Sandeep and is blessed with two children.

Panelists: Diverse Perspectives to and from Microbiology

Margaret Thairu
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Margaret Thairu received degrees in Entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (MS) and University of California Riverside (PhD). Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, UW-Madison in Jo Handelsman’s lab. Microbial symbioses have influenced the evolutionary trajectories of all animal lineage; and she is interested in understanding the evolution, maintenance, and function of these relationships. Currently, Dr. Thairu has two main areas of research focus: 1) Understanding the mechanisms driving microbial community function and resilience, and 2) Understanding the human gut microbiome’s functional response to mindfulness based interventions and its potential link to well-being.

Natalia Rosario-Meléndez
PhD Candidate
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Natalia Rosario Meléndez, a native of Puerto Rico, embarked on her scientific journey at the University of Puerto Rico for her undergraduate studies. Driven by her passion for microbiology, she pursued a Master’s degree in Mark Mandel’s lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she delves deeper into the realm of microbiology as a PhD candidate in Jo Handelsman’s lab. Beyond her research pursuits, Natalia is deeply committed to science policy. She’s co-president of the Catalysts for Science Policy, where she’s all about bringing science into the policy making process.

Cristian Ambrosio
Medical Student
University of Wisconsin-Madison, SMPH

Cristian Ambrosio is currently a 4th-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health with an interest in neurology with a primary focus on post-stroke rehabilitation.  Cristian was raised in Green Bay, WI, and identifies as Mexican American. His goal has always been to encourage the next generation of students by giving back to his community and providing resources & more efficient avenues for transitioning into higher education. Cristian tries to do this in many ways, for example being one of many founding members of the UWGB-Alumni board. 

Being part of Tiny Earth has been a great success for him and has made him a more well-rounded student who is better equipped to tackle the challenges of medical school.  He hopes the Tiny Earth Research program can stay for many years and teach our undergraduate students & high school students in Wisconsin who will be the future and must help us provide innovation & new ways of thinking.  Cristian has also worked with Dr. Ashok Rai CEO of Prevea and UWGB administration to create an internship program for UWGB students who are interested in Medicine. The internship program allows students to work with our Wisconsin providers to learn about the challenges that our current healthcare system is facing, along with the challenges that our Wisconsin patients face. Working with healthcare providers to propose Quality Improvement projects & research to help address possible gaps that could improve logistics and patient health outcomes.  An idea was also pushed partly due to the Tiny Earth research program being an early experience in Cristian’s educational journey.

Casey Wagner
PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific

Casey Wagner participated in Dr. Kristin Labby’s Tiny Earth Chemistry course at Beloit College in the Spring of 2020. The course was a fantastic experience that allowed him to build on laboratory and research skills, while also giving him a greater perspective on the impact of the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics.

After graduation, he joined PPD, one of the largest contract research organizations in the United States. Casey has held scientist positions in the biopharmaceutical and cell/gene therapy divisions and performs a variety of assays for stability studies that PPD clients currently have in progress. He also works on developing, qualifying, and validating analytical methods for their client’s newest pharmaceutical products, ensuring they adhere to strict regulatory guidelines.

Maritza Lopez
Undergraduate Student
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Maritza Lopez is a 19-year-old Latina, who is currently double majoring in Human Biology (Health Science emphasis) and Spanish (General Education emphasis) at UWGB. She is also attaining her CNA certification at NWTC. Lopez graduated from Green Bay West High School in June, class of 2023. She discovered at a young age that she wanted to help people in need but also has a great affection towards children especially those who face more challenges, like special ed children. Lopez has a 9-year-old nephew who is a non-verbal autistic, who faces a lot of changes daily like communicating his needs, which is why she wants to be able to help children like him. During her high school experience, she participated the Serious About STEM (SAS) program for empowered women to discover more knowledge and seek opportunities. This led her to receive a scholarship to be part of the Summer Academy of Medicine located at St. Norbert and form part of the Tiny Earth Project with UWGB. Lopez is inspired and determined to become a Pediatrician; she pursuing to get into the MWC program. 


Event begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 5:00 PM (Central Daylight Time) daily. 
Note: the current schedule is tentative and subject to change.

June 12th

Professional development programming for instructors only

Time (CT) Session
8:30 AM Doors Open
9:00 AM Welcome
9:30 AM Updates from TEHQ and the Tiny Earth Chemistry Hub
10:00 AM Break
10:15 AM Tapas Talks
12:00 PM Roundtable Lunch
1:00 PM NEW Scientific Teaching Course Workshop
2:00 PM Break
2:15 PM NEW Tiny Earth Discovery Database Workshop
3:15 PM Break
3:30 PM Book Club, Networking, and Discussions
4:30 PM Wrap Up
5:00 PM Informal Dinner & Meet-up at Memorial Union Terrace 

June 13th

Antibiotic discovery research symposia for students and instructors

Time (CT) Session
8:30 AM Doors Open
9:00 AM Welcome
9:30 AM Plenary from Dr. Jo Handelsman
A World Without Soil
10:30 AM Break
10:45 AM Plenary from Dr. Roselin Polugari
Antimicrobial activity of green synthesised ZnO nanoparticles and plant extracts against multidrug-resistant organisms
11:45 PM Lunch
1:00 PM Student Research Poster Session I
2:00 PM Break
2:30 PM Panel Discussion
Diverse Paths to and from Microbiology
3:45 PM Transition
4:00 PM Student Research Poster Session II
5:00 PM Event Ends