Student research‚ international collaboration attracts attention of CDC

A quest for knowledge about the growing resistance of staph bacteria to antibiotics took Dorothy…

Georgia (May 30, 2002) — Student research‚ international collaboration attracts attention of CDC

Rick Woodall


A quest for knowledge about the growing resistance of staph bacteria to antibiotics took Dorothy Don Davis and her students in Kennesaw State University's Department of Biological and Physical Sciences south of the border in 2001 for a research trip to Xalapa‚ Mexico−a journey that paid dividends both inside and outside the classroom.

Working hand−in−hand with researchers at the University of Veracruz medical school hospital‚ Davis and her students‚ Amy Walthour‚ Adam O'Bryant and Michelle Swann‚ added weight to research previously conducted at Kennesaw State‚ while also gaining first−hand knowledge of a country far different from their own.

Scientifically‚ the cross−cultural nature of the research benefited the study by showing that healthy adults in both countries carry resistant strains of staph bacteria that could prove deadly in certain circumstances. Resistance strains were even found to vancomycin‚ referred to as a "last−resort" antibiotic by Davis. Those efforts resulted in individual accolades for participants such as Walthour‚ who won Best Oral Undergraduate Presentation at both regional and statewide conferences‚ and also attracted the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‚ which has advised the researchers on how to proceed in order to confirm their results.

"Obviously‚ it's been invaluable for us‚" Davis said‚ referring to the collaboration with Dr. Carlos Blazquez and his staff at the University of Veracruz. "We wouldn't have the data from Mexico if we hadn't been able to collaborate."

A staff member at KSU since 1989‚ Davis first came in contact with Dr. Blazquez during a faculty internationalization trip sponsored by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in the summer of 2000. Their initial collaboration‚ which is still ongoing‚ compared health risks facing Mexicans in their own country to those who had immigrated to the United States. The success of that endeavor led Davis to involve Dr. Blazquez in her study of staph bacteria and its resistance to antibiotics‚ research that had previously been confined to the laboratories at KSU. She could not be happier with the results.

"I can't say enough about what it did for the students‚ their level of confidence‚ the things they learned as far as doing research‚ but also being exposed to a different culture‚" she said.

Veracruz staff members such as Vicky Mateu‚ Daniel Lopez and Dr. Sobeida Blazquez went out of their way to accommodate Davis and her students‚ going so far as to schedule a special mid−day meal for their American guests‚ rather than force them to adjust to the local custom of a light breakfast in the morning followed by a much larger meal later in the afternoon. Such hospitality made a lasting impact on the KSU contingent‚ and could pave the way for further collaboration.

"They have asked us to come back repeatedly‚" Davis said. "They have said we are welcome to come back. I think that's a testament to how well the students acted and performed while we were there. They were good ambassadors not just for KSU‚ but for the United States."


Kennesaw State University‚ a progressive‚ comprehensive institution with a growing student population of 14‚100 from 118 countries‚ offers more than 50 degree programs. Out of 34 institutions‚ KSU is the sixth largest in the University System of Georgia.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit