College of Arts & Sciences

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant for Science Education at SJU

Phage Safari

This two-semester phage genomics laboratory course satisfies the lab components of BIO 101: Cells and BIO 102: Genetics. This also satisfies the first-year seminar requirement. The genomics lab provides a unique opportunity to participate in an authentic research experience rather than a “cookbook” lab. Designed for freshman Biology, Chemical Biology, or Environmental Science majors, this lab experience combines themes and technology from several specialized biological fields, including microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics.

Saint Joseph's University is one of a select few colleges and universities chosen and supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance – Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) to participate in this project. In June, HHMI hosts a research symposium for course faculty and one student from each institution to report their discoveries and experiences. As unique phages are characterized, students will publish their findings in scientific journals for the broader scientific community.

Fall Semester

Students isolate and purify bacteriophages from local soil and characterize them using state-of-the-art technologies including electron microscopy and DNA analyses.

Winter Break

Purified DNA sample is sent to the Joint Genome Institute for sequencing.

Spring Semester

Students learn to use bioinformatics tools to annotate their phage genome sequence.


Why Join? Benefits for Students

  • Early exposure to cutting-edge scientific research
  • Experience in analyzing & interpreting data
  • Learn skills in using genomics research tools
  • Gain confidence in conducting independent research
  • Appreciate the importance of communicating science
  • Build collegiality among classmates and other scientists

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