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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 "Hunt" - and Discover - Bacteria-killing viruses

    Students "Hunt" - and Discover - Bacteria-killing viruses

    CSU CONNects | Nov. 15, 2016

    “The goal of the course, part of a national pedagogical program, is to get students doing research early, so they can see what it’s like and learn the scientific process,” explains Dr. Edgington, Associate Professor of Biology.read more

    Related institution: Southern Connecticut State 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 Biology 2.0

    Biology 2.0

    Andrea Gaul

    Baylor Arts & Sciences Magazine | May 9, 2017

    Baylor University has implemented a new kind of introductory biology lab that has proven successful in keeping students excited and engaged through hands-on research.read more

    Related institution: Baylor University

  • 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 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

  • Thumbnail for Biology major chosen for research at MIT

    Biology major chosen for research at MIT

    Drew Sterwald

    FGCU 360 | June 2, 2016

    Santiago Yori already has research experience under his belt that most biology majors would envy. But he’s taking it to a new level this summer working alongside scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A veteran of FGCU’s elite Honors “Virus Hunters”...read more

    Related institution: Florida Gulf Coast University

  • Thumbnail for Austin Peay’s ‘phage hunters’ join front lines of medical research

    Austin Peay’s ‘phage hunters’ join front lines of medical research

    Brian Dunn

    The Leaf Chronicle | Nov. 19, 2019

    The 10 Austin Peay State University students in Dr. Sergei Markov’s junior- and senior-level biology classes this semester are taking advantage of a unique research opportunity that could help lead to medical breakthroughs.read more

    Related institution: Austin Peay State 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 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 One student gets to name lab discovery

    One student gets to name lab discovery

    Oscar Santiago Torres

    Eagle News | Aug. 27, 2014

    An agar plate lies still. Omnicron has destroyed the layer of bacteria inside the plate, leaving plaques or dark holes 2 mm in diameter. Omnicron is a virus replicating itself inside the plate. The discovery of this virus belongs to Tasha Baer, a Florida Gulf Coast University student from the 2013-14 Virus Hunters course....read more

    Related institution: Florida Gulf Coast University

  • Thumbnail for Young Māori scientist discovers virus

    Young Māori scientist discovers virus

    Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

    Māori Television | April 22, 2018

    Young, Māori scientist Anezka Hoskins has discovered a new virus and is hopeful that it will spark curiosity amongst Māori to push boundaries of knowledge.read more

    Related institution: Massey 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 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 Del Mar student takes home award for research on bacteriophages

    Del Mar student takes home award for research on bacteriophages

    Fares Sabawi

    Corpus Christi Caller Times | March 29, 2016

    Before John Ramirez, 29, decided to go back to school, he worked at Northwest Hospital in Calallen. There, he saw how tuberculosis affected people. "It's almost intensified when you see it," Ramirez said....read more

    Related institution: Del Mar College

  • Thumbnail for La Sierra freshmen discover new viruses through national research program

    La Sierra freshmen discover new viruses through national research program

    Darla Martin Tucker

    La Sierra News | June 15, 2017

    La Sierra University freshman Casey Jang was pleasantly surprised—she knew it was possible, but really didn’t expect to find, and then name, a virus that is new to science.read more

    Related institution: La Sierra University

Sequencing Information 2019-20

It's sequencing season! This post contains some information on sending your SEA-PHAGES phage DNA samples to the University of Pittsburgh for sequencing. Most of the information is the same as last year, but please note that our lab has moved to a new building and the shipping address has changed.

Sample Submission Form

Please submit the information about the samples you are sending via a quick Google Form. This will help us keep track of samples, correct any spelling errors, and make sure your samples are accounted for. Please fill out a copy of this form for each sample you are submitting. The best time to fill it out is as you are getting your shipment packed, so that when your box arrives, we'll already have the information on your phages in our database. Please note whether each sample is a "Priority" or "Backup" in the Notes field, along with any other info we should have.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdhZpw1LHL42zxAotEVqhmrr8RBN9-kuPL_42ioYmuBU-4-Q/viewform

Quantity

Each SEA-PHAGES school may have two genomes sequenced per Bioinformatics section that it is teaching during the current academic year. We recommend that you send at least one backup sample in case one of your samples fails our QC. Please indicate any order of preference, if you have one.

Deadlines

Semester Schools

Please send your genomic DNA so that it arrives in Pittsburgh by Friday, November 22.

Quarter Schools

Please send your genomic DNA so that it arrives in Pittsburgh by Friday, January 8.

If you will have trouble meeting these deadlines for any reason, please contact Dan Russell at dar78@pitt.edu.

Guidelines for DNA

Buffer

Samples that are resuspended in TE are problematic, since the EDTA may interfere with enzymatic shearing of the DNA. You can resuspend your DNA in Elution Buffer (Tris) or in purified water.

Amount

We need a minimum of 4 µg (micrograms) of genomic DNA. If you're in the ballpark of this number but not quite there, contact Dan to see if it's okay.

Concentration

At least 40 ng/µl. Ideal is 100-300 ng/µl. If you're above 300 ng/µl please consider diluting to a workable concentration and workable volume. Shipping volumes less than 20 µl is not recommended. Keep in mind that spec-based quantifications (like Nanodrop) count all absorbance at 260 nm, not just genomic DNA, so they often overestimate the real concentration. Err on the high side of the amount of DNA you send.

Gel Picture

Please submit—either via email to dar78@pitt.edu or in the shipping box—an image of the gDNA being run on an agarose gel. We use these to look for sample integrity (not already sheared/degraded) and purity (no RNA).

Labeling

Please clearly label the tubes you are sending with the name of the phage as it appears on PhagesDB. Don't label tubes using student's initials only, or other ambiguous names like "Phage1" or "PittPhage". If possible, put a small circular sticker on the top of the tube and write the phage name only on it.

Shipping

Packaging

We prefer standard microcentrifuge tubes, and strongly recommend wrapping the caps with Parafilm to prevent spilling or evaporation. The tubes can be packed into a 50 ml conical tube with some KimWipes to stabilize them during shipment. If shipping overnight (preferred), you can actually just send the samples at room temperature, as the DNA should be fine for 24 hours in transit. If shipping on a slower schedule, you should use cold packs. Aim for delivery to Pittsburgh on Tuesday-Friday. If shipping near holidays, please check with us about when we'll be around to receive samples.

You can include a packing slip with any information you think we should have about the enclosed phages.

Address

Dan Russell
303 Clapp Hall
Department of Biological Sciences
4249 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Additional Samples

For the past several years, the Genomics Sciences Laboratory at NC State has provided high-quality, for-cost sequencing services to schools in the SEA-PHAGES program who wish to sequence additional genomes beyond those allotted by the program. Contact Andy Baltzegar at dabaltze@ncsu.edu for pricing and details.

Fall 2019 Faculty Hack-A-Thons

What is it?

 

The Fall Faculty Hack-A-Thons is a series of one-day annotation workshops for faculty that are hosted by our SEA-PHAGES SMART Team and expedited submitters. The goal of the Hack-A-Thons are to improve faculty annotation skills across the SEA and help everyone refresh their memories before they teach the bioinformatics component in the Spring. These small group, faculty-focused workshops will either work through the annotation of one genome from the genome exchange or will focus on a particular annotation topic. Along the way, faculty will be reoriented to SEA-PHAGES bioinformatics tools, the Online Guide, annotation submission guidelines, changes from previous years, and useful forums and resources on seaphages.org.

 

Who should attend?

 

We encourage all faculty that will be leading the bioinformatics course to attend at least one of these workshops. Teaching assistants are welcome if there is space. Cohort 12 faculty will soon attend a week-long in-depth bioinformatics training workshop. There will be some hack-a-thon sessions available as follow up for Cohort 12 trainees, but it’s not recommended to attend a Hack-A-Thon until after the workshop.

 

How to attend one?

 

These workshops will take place as in-person meetings, virtual meetings, or a combination of both. To attend one of these meetings, refer to the sign-up link below, which lists all the dates and locations for these meetings. Once all faculty have identified their top three choices, you will be contacted with additional details about the meetings. Food will be provided at in-person meetings, but travel to and from a meeting is at your own expense.

 

Please identify up to three workshops that you can attend, and rank your preference, by Sunday Oct 20, 2019.

 

Sign-up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019FallHackathon

 

Happy Annotating!

 

The SEA-PHAGES Team

Sequencing Status 2019-2020

Below is a live spreadsheet showing the status of SEA-PHAGES sequencing samples for the 2019-20 academic year. Generally, only samples in the "priority" queue will be listed, and it may take a few days after receipt of samples for them to appear.

CLICK HERE to open this in a new browser window.

 

Upcoming Events

Bioinformatics Workshop

December 9, 2019 to December 13, 2019

2019 Bioinformatics Workshop

December 9, 2019 to December 13, 2019

Submit Genome Annotations for Quality Control

May 1, 2020

Recent Events

Philly Phage Phestival - 2019

November 16, 2019

Phall Phage Phair - 2019

November 8, 2019

Forum Activity

nietof posted in TbQueries

nietof posted in TbQueries

Debbie Jacobs-Sera posted in GTGA overlaps

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