Going Black– Penicillin cultivated in Munger Apartment

Mold spores and fungal particles will be closer to Albion student apartments than usual. This year, it’s a good thing.

Albion College received notification on April 1 that they were awarded a grant from National Institute of Health (NIH). The $1,000,000 grant will allow them cultivate the fungi into penicillin for medicinal use. Student health services plans to  prescribe the locally-grown and sustainable penicillin to students who require antibiotic therapy.

“I immediately applied for the grant after mold was found in Munger Place Apartments,” said Kendra Pearce director of student health services.  “I think it’s a great idea. The theme for this year is sustainability, so it really shows how Albion is always thinking and how we will continue to use the themes each year to promote college ideals.”

Kale Kennidy, chair of the biology department, is in charge of monitoring the growth of penicillin. Kennidy said she will make frequent visits to the apartment each day to make sure the mold is growing properly.

At time of press, the Munger apartment where the mold was first found last fall is planned to be the pilot location to grow the mold species.

Although that specific apartment will be closed to students, Munger Place Apartment is still an available housing option for students to live in next year, said Ken Bobinson, director of residential life.

“It will be a great learning experience for students to see how mold is cultivated into penicillin,” Bobinson said.

Bobinson said that he believes most upcoming senior students will apply to live in Munger for the next academic year.

“I’m really hoping to get into an apartment in Munger so I can observe the mold grow in my everyday life,” said Penny Sillan, Stachybotrys senior. “Learning should not have to end in the classroom, and I hope that the college reapplies for this grant so a majority of students can have this hands-on learning experience.”

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