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Interdisciplinarity & Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

A diverse team of Lehigh researchers examines components of the language, history and narratives of antibiotics related to their individual expertise.

Story by

Kelly Hochbein

In 2018, Lehigh’s Research Futures investment programs funded a team of researchers pursuing an interdisciplinary exploration of antibiotic resistance through reading and cross-disciplinary discussion. Today, three members of that team continue their work, now supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Lab

Anglea Brown, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; Sharon Friedman, professor of journalism and communication; and Lorenzo Servitje, associate professor of English and health, medicine and society, are working with Amanda Greene, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Associate, on a project that examines components of the language, history and narratives of antibiotics related to their individual expertise. Each team member observes and participates in the other’s work to advance the study of antibiotic resistance.

Friedman, for example, studies how current research is and will be understood and communicated across disciplines and to lay audiences. She learned from Servitje, who studies the development of society’s conceptualization of antibiosis, “about the literature and history surrounding antibiotics, which altered my thinking about the topic to include a more science-in-society approach.” From Brown, whose expertise centers on the experimentation and engineering of specific materials and methods for the implementation of antivirulence, Servitje gained a new appreciation for “the potential for innovation in antibiotic alternatives and alternative delivery mechanisms.” Close examination of the language scientists and engineers use in this field “has opened new systems of knowledge to explore in terms of history, rhetoric, and figuration,” he says. 

For more about this and other interdisciplinary work, visit

With interested and patient colleagues, the self-reflexive, iterative and collaborative process becomes as valuable as the results or output.

Lorenzo Servitje

Story by

Kelly Hochbein

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