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The official website of the HHMI Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science program.

The SEA-PHAGES Program

SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) is a two-semester, discovery-based undergraduate research course that begins with simple digging in the soil to find new viruses, but progresses through a variety of microbiology techniques and eventually to complex genome annotation and bioinformatic analyses.

The program aims to increase undergraduate interest and retention in the biological sciences through immediate immersion in authentic, valuable, yet accessible research. By finding and naming their own bacteriophages, students develop a sense of project ownership and have a ready-made personal research project at a fraction of the cost of traditional apprentice-based research programs. Some of the positive effects of the SEA-PHAGES program have been reported here.

SEA-PHAGES is jointly administered by Graham Hatfull's group at the University of Pittsburgh and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science Education division.

SEA-PHAGES IN THE NEWS

  • Thumbnail for Students in interactive course look to discover, name phages

    Students in interactive course look to discover, name phages

    Marlon Morgan

    Western Carolina News | Sept. 30, 2015

    Western Carolina University student Sean Kent didn’t pick the course, but when he saw he was registered for it, the name “Phage Hunters” immediately got his attention. Brooke Burns also found she was placed in the course. After hearing so many other freshmen at orientation say they were excited about WCU’s newest biology/chemistry course, she, too, decided to keep it. Now she says it’s by far her favorite....read more

    Related institution: Western Carolina University

  • Thumbnail for Going viral: C of I students attend HHMI symposium

    Going viral: C of I students attend HHMI symposium

    The College of Idaho—Student News | Aug. 4, 2015

    Jetblade. The name might sound like the newest Marvel superhero to hit the big screen, but it’s actually the newest bacterial virus analyzed by College of Idaho students....read more

    Related institution: College of Idaho

  • Thumbnail for Freshmen participate in huge research study on tiny viruses

    Freshmen participate in huge research study on tiny viruses

    CU Boulder Today | May 1, 2015

    A new study appearing this week in the scientific journal eLIFE about the rapid evolution of small viruses that infect bacteria includes 59 University of Colorado Boulder co-authors, all of whom conducted research for the paper as freshmen....read more

    Related institution: University of Colorado at Boulder

  • Thumbnail for Queens University student discovers a virus strain

    Queens University student discovers a virus strain

    Reid Creager

    The Charlotte Observer | April 16, 2016

    Sydney Dishman’s new pet isn’t cute and certainly isn’t something you’d want to cuddle with. But she feels good just thinking about it. Her “pet” is named Rex16, after the Queens University of Charlotte mascot and her year of graduation. Rex16 is a bacteriophage species she discovered while completing her honors research thesis, investigating bacteriophages in local soil samples....read more

    Related institution: Queens University of Charlotte

  • Thumbnail for This scientific paper has 2,863 authors. How?

    This scientific paper has 2,863 authors. How?

    Danielle Wiener-Bronner

    Fusion | May 12, 2015

    The scientific journal eLife published a paper on viruses last month—specifically, the genetics of bacteriophages: viruses that infect, and replicate within, bacteria. By sequencing the genomes of individual bacteriophages, or phages, the authors were able to glean information about the genetic makeup of the viruses more broadly.... read more

  • Thumbnail for Students isolate potentially novel soil-dwelling viruses

    Students isolate potentially novel soil-dwelling viruses

    WPI News

    Phys.org | June 8, 2016

    After sifting through soil samples collected from across Massachusetts, then drilling down to analyze the DNA of viruses they found, a team of undergraduates at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) hit pay dirt—three potentially novel viruses.... read more

    Related institution: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Thumbnail for Student ‘Virus Hunters’ publish research in peer journal

    Student ‘Virus Hunters’ publish research in peer journal

    FGCU 360 | July 2, 2015

    Students and faculty involved in FGCU’s “Honors Virus Hunters” course helped produce a research paper that has been accepted for publication in eLife, a highly ranked peer-reviewed scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences....read more

    Related institution: Florida Gulf Coast University

  • Thumbnail for  Steele commended by Nobel Prize winner for her work

    Steele commended by Nobel Prize winner for her work

    Barbara Phillips

    Archer County News | April 21, 2016

    It is not often that a freshman in college is approached and commended for research by a Nobel Prize winner, but that is exactly what happened to Archer City graduate, London Steele, now a freshman at Baylor University....read more

    Related institution: Baylor University

  • Research paper with 2,863 authors expands knowledge of bacteriophages

    Science Daily | May 11, 2015

    We know that bacteriophages are viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria. We know that they are the most abundant organisms on Earth. But we don't know much about their genetic architecture....read more

    Related institution: University of Pittsburgh

  • Thumbnail for A summer of sequencing

    A summer of sequencing

    Joseph McClain

    Ideation | Sept. 6, 2013

    It was the summer that the freshmen ruled the sequencer. Technically, the six William & Mary students who logged heavy lab time with a state-of-the-art Ion Torrent gene sequencer had finished their freshman year and therefore did their summer work as rising sophomores....read more

    Related institution: College of William & Mary

  • Thumbnail for Invisible Friends

    Invisible Friends

    Story by Joel Smith; photos by Rajah Bose

    Gonzaga—The Magazine of Gonzaga University | Aug. 15, 2016

    They may have goofy names, but these students’ microscopic pets are serious science. A junior in college, Vina Tran already has a bona fide scientific discovery to her name. Go ahead and look her up on the Actino-bacteriophage Database, a compendium of biological findings maintained by the University of Pittsburgh....read more

    Related institution: Gonzaga University

  • Thumbnail for WKU 2012 Goldwater Scholarship Recipient Charles Coomer

    WKU 2012 Goldwater Scholarship Recipient Charles Coomer

    innovateKY/YouTube | April 24, 2012

    Charles Coomer, a junior in the Honors College at WKU and the son of Evell and Don Coomer, has been involved in microbiological research for two years. In the lab of Dr. Rodney King, associate professor of biology, Coomer is characterizing viruses that infect bacterial cells...read more

    Related institution: Western Kentucky University

  • Thumbnail for First-years discover viruses, analyze DNA

    First-years discover viruses, analyze DNA

    Kate Nussenbaum

    The Brown Daily Herald | Feb. 10, 2012

    Sixteen first-years watched with excitement as their screens loaded the sequence of 59,625 nucleic acids that comprise the DNA of “Job42,” the virus a student in their class had discovered, isolated and named during the fall semester. “Each of them codes for something,” said Jordan Rego...read more

    Related institution: Brown University

  • Thumbnail for Freshman find

    Freshman find

    Kyrie O'Connor

    Houston Chronicle | Oct. 15, 2016

    Brian Blake Maxfeldt likes science just fine, but he didn't go to college expecting to make a discovery his first year. Nevertheless, Maxfeldt, who goes by Blake and graduated from Morton Ranch High School in Katy, discovered a virus that nobody had ever seen before.read more

    Related institution: LeTourneau University

  • Thumbnail for Durham Tech students present research at national symposium

    Durham Tech students present research at national symposium

    Charlton Budd

    Chapelboro.com | June 27, 2016

    Two Durham Tech students were given the chance to present their research at a national symposium earlier this month. Qina Mo and Peter Said presented their research describing the isolation and characterization of two viruses that infect bacteria at the 8th annual SEA-PHAGES Symposium...read more

    Related institution: Durham Technical Community College

The GO Annotation Competition is upon us!

If you are annotating phage genomes in Spring, you might be interested in an exciting inter-campus Gene Ontology (GO) annotation competition devoted to phage genomes and hosted by Texas A&M University. Last year, 5 SEA-PHAGES campuses joined the competition.

GO annotations are formal statements about the function/role/location of a gene product (e.g. protein X has glucosidase activity or protein Y is part of the phage tail baseplate). As part of the competition, students have to find literature sources providing experimental evidence of a given function/role/location for a phage gene product and enter the annotation using the wiki-based interface. These annotations can be challenged and corrected by students from other campuses and instructors, and students must revise them to earn full credit. Once completed, annotations are submitted to the GO repository for everybody to see and use.

Performing GO annotations in a competitive setting is a great way to have students read, parse and distill a scientific manuscript into the elementary units of knowledge it contributes. If you are interested in participating, please contact Steve Caruso (scaruso@umbc.edu) or Ivan Erill (erill@umbc.edu) of UMBC for more information. They have abundant training material to share with you.

Sequencing Status 2016-17

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DNA Master Updated to Use Secure NCBI Connections

Thanks to Jeffrey Lawrence, significant changes have been made to the DNA Master code which now allow it to access the newly-secure servers of NCBI. To obtain these changes, you need to update the program. Without updating, important features of DNA Master will not work, including auto-annotation and BLASTing.

To update, open DNA Master then go to Help and click on Update DNA Master. (You will need an internet connection for this to be successful.) You will see a message along the lines of "Update successful upon restarting DNA Master."

After restarting, the following window will appear.

Secure Connections Now Available

This confirms that DNA Master has been updated to include secure connections. There is also a new Secure Connections panel in the DNA Master Preferences. See below for the suggested values. (These should be the defaults.)

Secure Connection Preferences

To test that your DNA Master is properly connecting to the new secure NCBI servers, you can try auto-annotating an imported fasta file, then BLASTing one feature from that auto-annotation. If both work, your DNA Master is ready to roll for another year of annotation!

The updated DNA Master is version 5.23.0, build 2487, 15 Nov 2016.

Upcoming Events

Orientation Webinar Option A

January 26, 2017

Orientation Webinar Option B

January 30, 2017

Recent Events

Archiving Samples Due to the University of Pittsburgh

December 15, 2016

2016 SEA-PHAGES Bioinformatics Workshop

December 5, 2016 to December 9, 2016

Forum Activity

ckorey posted in DNA Master failed update

ckorey posted in DNA Master / Z values missing

Frankie La Lumia posted in DNA Master / Z values missing