Ashley Mulroy, USA

Ashley Mulroy, a high school student from the USA, received the prize for her project, “Correlating Residual Antibiotic Contamination in Public Water to the Drug Resistance of Escherichia coli.”

An outstanding contribution to the contemporary science of drinking water quality and microbial drug resistance.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize international nominating committee

In her study, Ms. Mulroy found the presence of three antibiotics, Penicillin, Tetracycline and Vancomycin, in trace levels in five Ohio River sites, two tributary sites and in drinking water in three municipalities adjacent to the river. She determined that filtration of the drug-contaminated water through activated charcoal removed most of the antibiotics, but filtration through sand, the most common wastewater filtration method used, did not remove any of the three antibiotics from water samples. She also found that E. coli, for example, demonstrated resistance to the antibiotics with which it formerly coexisted in nature.

The young American’s study calls for judicious distribution and use of existing, as well as new, pharmacology. She also pointed out that the failure to do so could perpetuate the condition in which pervasive, lowlevel antibiotic contamination would provide just the right environment in which the world’s microbes actively train to outpace new antimicrobial drug development.