Phage Safari at Saint Joseph's University is a two-semester phage genomics lab course that gives first-year biology, chemical biology, and environmental science students the unique opportunity to participate in an authentic research experience rather than a “cookbook” lab.
This lab experience combines themes and technology from several specialized biological fields, including microbiology, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics. It satisfies the lab components of BIO 101: Cells and BIO 102: Genetics, as well as the first-year seminar (FYS) and Honor's program requirements.
As unique phages are characterized, students will publish their findings in Databases (Phages DB, NCBI GenBank) and scientific journals for the broader scientific community. Additionally, since Saint Joseph’s is part of the SEA-PHAGES program supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), faculty members and student representatives have the opportunity to report their discoveries and experiences at HHMI’s annual research symposium in June.
Alexa Mihaita '24 and Deborah Duong '24 share their experiences studying bacteria phages through the Phage Safari program.
April Pivonka '22 and Mary Marino '22 explain their Phage Lab experience
Students who participate in Phage Safari enjoy several benefits:
- Early exposure to cutting-edge research
- Experience in analyzing and 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
Phage Safari 2021- 2022
For the 2021 - 2022 academic year, we will be using bioinformatics tools to annotate phage genomes in the fall (BIO 151L) and discover new phages in the spring (BIO 150L). BIO 151L is almost entirely computer-based, but BIO 150L is mostly bench work.
Fall 2021 Semester: Students will learn to use bioinformatics tools to annotate their phage genome sequence.
Spring 2022 Semester: Students will isolate and purify bacteriophages from soil samples and characterize them using state-of-the-art technologies including electron microscopy and DNA analyses.