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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 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 Issue #1 of PHAMILIA Journal

    Issue #1 of PHAMILIA Journal

    PHAMILIA | Nov. 1, 2021

    The Ibadan Bacteriophage Research Team, an undergraduate SEA-PHAGES team at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria announces the launch of its first journal issue PHAMILIA. This is the very first undergraduate research journal focused on bacteriophage biology. It showcases all student and faculty team members of the team, as well as publications on diverse subjects of bacteriophage biology from the team and other guest writers.read more

    Related institution: University of Ibadan

  • Thumbnail for Special UNLV class takes a hands-on approach to discovering viruses

    Special UNLV class takes a hands-on approach to discovering viruses

    Denise Rosch

    KSNV NBC Las Vegas | Sept. 28, 2017

    Say the word "virus" and most people think of disease -- something to be avoided at all costs. However, at UNLV, students are getting their hands dirty to discover something that could keep us healthy. read more

    Related institution: University of Nevada Las Vegas

  • Thumbnail for UWF Biology And Chemistry Crews Team Up To Hunt Phages

    UWF Biology And Chemistry Crews Team Up To Hunt Phages

    Bob Barrett

    wuwf 88.1 | May 12, 2015

    The University of West Florida has been chosen to pioneer a unique collaboration between its chemistry and biology departments. Let’s start off with an important definition....read more

    Related institution: University of West Florida

  • 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 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

  • UMass Inclusive Excellence Initiative Continues for Third Year

    University of Massachusetts Amherst News and Media Relations | Oct. 14, 2020

    Connor says, “We are delighted with our students’ progress and the power of SEA-PHAGES to excite and engage students in research regardless of their prior experience and background.” She adds, “Courses like SEA-PHAGES teach research skills as part of the curriculum, offering a much more inclusive approach to STEM fields and engaging students early in research experiences.”read more

    Related institution: University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Thumbnail for University of Mary student discovers new bacteria-killing virus

    University of Mary student discovers new bacteria-killing virus

    Blair Emerson

    The Bismarck Tribune | April 22, 2017

    "Old Ben" was the last hope for Luke Keller's biology class at the University of Mary.read more

    Related institution: United Tribes Technical 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 Bacteria-busting viruses discovered by student researchers

    Bacteria-busting viruses discovered by student researchers

    Dave Price

    Newport News | July 4, 2022

    "This is Oregon Coast Community College’s first year in the SEA PHAGES program, and I think it was pretty darn successful,” said Matthew Fisher, who teaches biology at OCCC and mentors students during the research project. “The goal is to find new phages, but it’s also about developing the next generation of scientists and getting them excited about doing science at OCCC."read more

    Related institution: Oregon Coast Community College

  • 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 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 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 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 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

2024 SEA Symposium FAQ

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

 

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 13 – 14, 2024:     Attend the symposium.

 

REGISTRATION

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.
 

ABSTRACTS & POSTERS

Who should submit abstracts and posters?
SEA Faculty are responsible for submitting all abstracts and posters.
Poster abstracts will be submitted via the seaphages.org program website (see link within your institution's homepage on seaphages.org)
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 seaphages.org, 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.

 

TALKS  

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.
       

OTHER

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 13 – 14, 2024:     Attend the symposium.

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 seaphages.org: 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 (EMG190@pitt.edu) with the information.

October SEA-PHAGES Email

Dear SEA community,

This is our October communication:

SECTION DATA

If you haven’t already, please post section data to your institution page at seaphages.org. (This is a separate request from the section data asked for the PITS study.)

https://seaphages.org/section/add/current/

ARCHIVE TUBES

Deadline to make a request for prompt shipping is October 16, 2023. We will begin shipping archive tubes as soon as requests come in. If you are off schedule, you can still request tubes with an additional comment for shipping instructions.

Request your tubes today!

ARCHIVE PROTOCOL

Before you prep lysates for archiving, please read the new improved protocol that contains a new video link here.

https://phagesdb.org/protocols/96/

Make sure you create any needed phage pages on PhagesDB as soon as possible, as these must be approved before they are included in your Archive Sheet for sample prep.

MONTHLY VIRTUAL FACULTY MEETING

This month’s meeting is scheduled for October 27, and will feature breakout rooms for updates and discussing your questions on Phage Discovery protocols, GENES protocols, and QUBES Resources.

More info available on the program website timeline: https://seaphages.org/faculty/information/#timeline

SIGN-UP FOR PHAGE GENOMICS WORKSHOP

The Phage Genomics workshop for the newest cohort of SEA faculty is scheduled for Dec 4 – 8, 2023. If you instruct (or will instruct) Phage Genomics but have never attended this workshop, you can request to attend using the following link, and we will do our very best to accommodate you. This registration closes October 13.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEAPhageGenomics2023

We hope phage work at your school is going well! We are excited to see what discoveries are made this year!

Our very best, the SEA Team

This email is an official communication from the HHMI SEA-PHAGES program.

Upcoming Events

Submit Abstract for 2024 Symposium

March 15, 2024

2024 SEA Symposium

April 12, 2024 to April 14, 2024

2024 SEA Symposium

April 12, 2024 to April 14, 2024

Recent Events

2023 Phage Genomics Workshop

December 4, 2023 to December 8, 2023