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.


2024 SEA Symposium FAQ

Below are some guidelines to help you and your students prepare for the upcoming symposium. These include guidelines for:


March 18, 2024:          Deadline to register for the Symposium.
March 18, 2024:          Deadline for abstract submission.
March 21, 2024:          Those selected to give talks will be notified.
April 5, 2024:               Deadline to upload Posters to the symposium website.
April 12 – 14, 2024:     Attend the symposium.



Who should register?
All SEA faculty, and all SEA student-researchers from the 2023 - 2024 academic year, are invited to register and attend the 2024 SEA symposium.

How do I register?
All SEA faculty members will receive instructions and a registration link by email on March 4, 2024. You will be asked to forward a registration email to your students. Registration will close March 18, 2024.


Who should submit abstracts and posters?
SEA Faculty are responsible for submitting all abstracts and posters.
Poster abstracts will be submitted via the program website (see link within your institution's homepage on
Final posters will be uploaded to the symposium meeting website. Instructions for abstract and poster submissions are provided below.

How many posters should be submitted?
We encourage each section of SEA students to submit one poster that describes their SEA research from the 2023 – 2024 academic year. If your school has multiple SEA sections, PHAGES or GENES, you may choose to submit one poster for each section or research project, or you can choose to submit one poster that summarizes the work of many sections or projects.

What is the format for each poster?

Posters should be prepared as a single Powerpoint slide using the Poster resource on QUBES prepared by SEA faculty, and saved as a PDF file. During the poster session, presenters will refer to this single slide PDF when presenting.


What should I include in my abstract(s) and poster(s)?
Given that the symposium will happen during your ongoing research semester, your poster will likely feature your ongoing work-in-progress. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss your research with your SEA colleagues and get feedback to inform your ongoing research. The QUBES Poster resource provides guidance on how to develop your poster with your students to facilitate an exchange of ideas during the symposium.

Your abstract will represent a summary of what will be included in your poster. There is a 3,000 character-limit for abstracts.

What is the format for the poster session?

The poster sessions will be live sessions hosted in Gathertown, which is a virtual space designed as a yacht where participants can move around using the arrow keys on their keyboard and can connect with others via video and audio based on proximity.

In this virtual space, each submitted poster will have an assigned space, and 2 poster presenters should stand by their poster. As an attendee walks up to a poster, their video and audio will connect with the poster presenter. A link at each poster allows the attendee and presenter to both view the single poster slide at the same time. A video tutorial about the yacht and the poster session will be provided soon.

Here are a some of additional logistics and recommendations:

  • The poster session on Saturday will be for even-numbered posters, whereas the poster session on Sunday will be for odd-numbered posters.  Poster presenters can locate their poster number on the Symposium meeting site (Whova platform), and should then plan to present at their respective poster session.
  • While any individual student is unlikely to be able to visit all the posters being presented during the dedicated poster sessions, collectively your group of students may be able to. Much the same way in which a few members of a lab who attend a scientific meeting return to share the science they learned with the rest of the lab, we encourage you to consider organizing a post-symposium lab group meeting where your students can share with the group what they each learned from the various posters they attended. If you are considering implementing this, it may be worth informing students of your plans before they attend the symposium.
  • Since all symposium attendees will continue to have access to the symposium meeting site for several months after the symposium is over, we encourage you to continue engaging your students with the various posters as part of their ongoing PHAGES and GENES research.

How do I submit my abstract(s)?
Once you are signed in at, links to add, modify, or view an abstract are provided at the top of your institution page. Abstracts should by March 18, 2024.

How do I submit my poster(s)?
Once you have submitted your abstracts, SEA staff will send you a unique link for each poster. With this unique link, you will be able to upload your single-slide poster to the Symposium Meeting Website.



Yes! If you would like your abstract to be considered for a talk, you can indicate so during the abstract submission. If your abstract is selected for a talk, you will be notified by March 21.
We encourage you to submit a poster even if you are selected to give a talk, since the poster session is an additional and important opportunity for faculty and student co-authors, and other symposium attendees to interact and discuss research.

What are the formats for talks?
We have 3 types of sessions for talks:

  • SEA Research Sessions: These sessions will include several back-to-back 10-minute talks (+3 minutes for Q&A). Talks will be presented live. Speakers will be invited to a practice session in the weeks prior to the meeting so that they are familiar with the technology.
  • SEA Lead Scientist Session: This 50-min presentation will feature our SEA-PHAGES lead scientist, Graham Hatfull.
  • Keynote Session: The keynote presentation by Joseph Bondy-Denomy will be presented in two parts.
    • Part.1 will be a pre-recorded presentation that will be made available to all attendees the week of April 1, and
    • Part.2, which builds on Part.1, will be a live presentation during the symposium. All attendees should watch Part.1 ahead of the symposium. We encourage faculty and students to watch and discuss Part.1 together.


How will symposium attendees be able to interact?

The entire Symposium will be hosted in Gathertown, a virtual meeting platform. This means all attendees can connect with one another, via video and audio, throughout the meeting.

  • Talks will be hosted in the conference rooms in Gathertown, and attendees will be able to walk up to a virtual microphone to ask questions. Attendees can also use the live chat to ask questions.
  • Posters will be hosted in the poster rooms in Gathertown, and attendees will be engage with poster presenters by video and audio during the poster session. Posters will continue to be available for viewing outside of the dedicated poster sessions.
  • For all other times, including socials, we encourage all attendees to wander the virtual spaces in Gathertown built for the Symposium. You will be able to interact with one another via video and audio, and you can also interact with games, watch HHMI shows, and more! We encourage attendees to use this space to meet between or after sessions to discuss science, or to simply catch up with old friends and to meet and make new friends.

What are important dates?
March 18, 2024:          Deadline to register for the Symposium.
March 18, 2024:          Deadline for abstract submission.
March 21, 2024:          Those selected to give talks will be notified.
April 5, 2024:               Deadline to upload Posters to the symposium website.
April 12 – 14, 2024:     Attend the symposium.

2024 SEA Faculty Meeting FAQ

HHMI HQ has a meeting capacity of 175 persons. Given the size of our community, this means that we invite 1 faculty member to represent each SEA institution. You may nominate a second faculty member to attend, in-person, in particular for schools offering both the PHAGES and GENES projects. An invitation will be extended to the second person based on space availability.

A registration link was sent by email to all SEA faculty on March 25th. You can request this link by emailing HHMI Travel Services will use this information to contact the participants and begin arranging travel.


Final details of the agenda are still being developed. Here is some helpful information for now.

  • Guests for the Faculty Meeting can expect to arrive at HHMI Headquarters by 3:00 PM EDT on Friday, June 7, and the Meeting will conclude by 12:00 PM EDT on Monday, June 10.
  • There will be a poster session. When registration opens mid-March, you will have an opportunity to submit abstracts for the poster session.
  • There will be multiple working sessions, to improve our annotations, to advance our understanding of phage biology, to write reports and manuscripts for publications, to develop and improve science pedagogy resources on QUBES, and to engage in science pedagogy research projects. When registration opens, you will have an opportunity to suggest topics or sessions you would like to have included at the meeting.

HHMI will cover the cost of travel to and from the meeting, and provide lodging and meals throughout the meeting.

Expired MTAs

Many MTAs for phagehunting materials obtained from the University of Pittsburgh have expired. Please check what materials you have received and their paperwork to see if you will need to update your MTAs. Updating the following information at your institution page at current faculty name(s) and legal contact name and email is needed, so update that information today! Check your freezers and documents to verify what materials you want to continue using and what you will discard. Contact Emily Ginser ( with the information.

Current Events

Phage Discovery Workshop 17A

June 22, 2024 to June 28, 2024

2024 Phage Discovery Workshop 17A

June 22, 2024 to June 28, 2024

Upcoming Events

Phage Discovery Workshop 17B

July 13, 2024 to July 19, 2024

2024 Phage Discovery Workshop 17B

July 13, 2024 to July 19, 2024

2024 Phage Genomics Workshop

December 9, 2024 to December 13, 2024

Recent Events

Annual SEA Faculty Meeting

June 7, 2024 to June 10, 2024

2024 SEA Faculty Meeting

June 7, 2024 to June 10, 2024

Forum Activity

afreise posted in Jumbo phage annotation

Debbie Jacobs-Sera posted in Jumbo phage annotation

afreise posted in Jumbo phage annotation