HHMI is partnering with institutions across the US to offer undergraduate students an authentic research experience in the context of a Course-based Research Experience (CRE).
HHMI is currently offering the Science Education Alliance - Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) CRE, a fully-developed and HHMI-supported two-semester CRE designed to replace the traditional introductory biology lab sequence. SEA-PHAGES students begin with isolating bacteriophages from local soil samples, progress through a variety of microbiology techniques to purify and characterize their viruses, isolate genomic phage DNA, and engage in the bioinformatics analysis and annotation of their phage genomes. Because each phage is unique, students name their phages. Collectively, the data generated by the SEA-PHAGES students lead to new insights about the genetic complexity and evolution of bacteriophages, and have uncovered novel mechanisms underlying the interactions between these viruses and their host bacteria. Since 2008, the SEA-PHAGES project has produced over 200 publications, which include peer-reviewed scientific and pedagogical articles, as well as genome announcements. Many of these papers include as co-authors SEA-PHAGES students and faculty.
SEA-PHAGES is currently offered at over 100 institutions across the US, and includes both 2-year and 4-year institutions. In the fall of 2022, more than 5,500 students, primarily freshmen and sophomores, participated in the program.
Institutions interested in offering SEA-PHAGES can apply to become members of the program. Schools accepted into the program are provided extensive support, including:
• Training of instructors at two one-week workshops:
The detailed course design and materials, including manuals, protocols, software, and year-round technical support.
• Attendance at annual research symposia and faculty meetings.
Member institutions are expected to:
• Assign instructors who will be trained by HHMI in all aspects of the course.
• Schedule the course to meet for ~ 60 hours per semester.
• Provide appropriate lab space and equipment, as well as project consumables.
Applications to become members of the program are accepted on a rolling basis, with a deadline of Oct 31 to begin offering the course the following fall. More details about the program, including the application forms, are available at www.hhmi.org/SEA.