Lehigh's SEA - PHAGES courses have been re-designed as a result of the successful research undertaken by previous Lehigh in the SEA students.
How does the program work?
Lehigh University is one of several institutions selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance (SEA) to participate in the PHAGES (Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) Program.
Students selected for the program will participate in research-focused phage genomics courses in which the genomes of novel bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria), isolated from local soil samples, are characterized by sequencing, gene annotation methods, and molecular genetic analyses. Students will learn a variety of techniques that span several disciplines, including microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics. This phage project is an outgrowth of research interests of Professor Graham Hatfull (University of Pittsburgh) who studies the molecular genetics of mycobacteria and the viruses that infect them.
All institutional members of the SEA-PHAGES Program, HHMI staff, and the Hatfull Laboratory are connected by the Internet, allowing data to be shared and discussed. Research results from Lehigh students will be disseminated to other faculty and students in the SEA-PHAGES Program, creating a nationwide community of scholars in pursuit of understanding how mycobacteriophage genomes are organized.
First year students will begin the SEA - PHAGES Program by enrolling in a new course (BioS Core I: Lehigh in the SEA - course name and number to be announced; 2 credits). This course will meet twice a week and subsititute for the BioS Core I Laboratory requirement (BioS 42). Students will also enroll in BioS 41 (Bio Core I: Cell & Molecular Biology) as a corequisite for the SEA - PHAGES course.
Students will isolate and purify bacteriophages from local soils. Physical features of phages will be determined by electron microscopy and genome profiles will be obtained by DNA analysis. Purified DNA from a novel phage(s) will be sent for sequencing over the summer.
Lehigh’s data will continue to be organized for presentation at the SEA Symposium at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia.
Students will enroll in a special section of BioS Core II laboratory (BioS Core II: Lehigh in the SEA - Phage Genetics Laboratory; 2 credits - BioS 118). This course will meet twice a week and will substitute for the BioS Core II genetics laboratory requirement (BioS 116). Students will also enroll in BioS 115 (Bio Core II: Genetics) as a corequisite for the SEA - PHAGES course.
Students will perform phage genome annotation on previously sequenced phage genomes using bioinformatics tools. Students will focus on genetic analysis of novel bacteriophage genomes to determine gene function using recombineering strategies. Additional genetics, molecular biology, and/or biochemical research on previously isolated bacteriophages will be included.