Jill Felker, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Liz Willey, PhD, Committee Chair
  • James Jordan, PhD, Committee Member
  • Tami Mysliwiec, PhD, Committee Member
  • Katherine Baker, PhD, Committee Member


antibiotic, antibiotic resistance, watershed, theoretical framework

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Antibiotic resistance is a serious health threat around the world. Millions of individuals are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria yearly, and thousands die from previously curable illnesses. Although antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, misuse of antibiotics accelerates the loss of their effectiveness. Public health campaigns focusing on antibiotic awareness have not effectively communicated and educated the public on this health crisis. New efforts to combat antibiotic resistance are urgently needed. This dissertation focuses on the ecological and public health components of antibiotic resistance research that must be addressed to decelerate antibiotic resistance. A new interdisciplinary theoretical framework was developed to Connect Antibiotic Resistance to the Environment (CARE). The CARE theoretical framework is the first framework that includes chemical cross-resistance and place-based engagement. Researchers can use the CARE framework to conduct scientific studies and communicate their findings to individuals who live and work near research areas. The CARE theoretical framework was applied to the Blue Marsh Watershed in Reading, Pennsylvania, to explore two real-world applications: (a) A Level III multimedia environmental modeling program was used to determine areas where chemical cross-resistance could occur in the Blue Marsh Watershed. Three commonly used herbicides, 2,4-D, dicamba, and glyphosate, were modeled to accumulate in the water and sediment of the Blue Marsh Watershed. Low concentrations of these chemicals can potentially expose bacteria to an environment where chemical cross-resistance may occur. (b) This dissertation also applied the CARE theoretical framework to assess the chemical and microbial characteristics of the Blue Marsh Watershed. High concentrations of nitrates, phosphates, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus spp. were prevalent throughout the watershed, indicating that the Blue Marsh Watershed would be an ideal environment to look for antibiotic-resistant bacterial populations. Future studies will apply the CARE theoretical framework to determine if antibiotic-resistant microorganisms are present in the watershed and also communicate the scientific findings from this dissertation to individuals who live, work, and recreate in and around the Blue Marsh Watershed.


Jill Felker

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0004-6607-0877