My name is Trevor Cross and I will be helping to pilot the HHMI SEA-PHAGES program in the Biological Sciences curriculum. What is HHMI SEA-PHAGES you might ask? HHMI stands for Howard Hughes Medical Institute and SEA-PHAGES means Science Education Alliance- Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science. It's a mouthful, but this is a collaboration between HHMI and many other colleges, universities, and even high schools across the nation as well as some locations overseas, a collaboration that USciences is now happily a part of!
What does this mean for USciences? It means that the Biology Department will be piloting a discovery-based undergraduate research course where a group of first year biology majors will have the opportunity to isolate and characterize their own unique bacteriophage from their own soil sample. By participating in this class, students will get to experience what it's like to do research by having their own project, contribute to a growing public database of phages and genomic information, and have a scientific discovery to call their own! As someone who has been a student in this class and a TA/peer mentor for this course, I can say from experience how AWESOME it is and how excited I am to be a part of this initiative as it unfolds here at USciences!
We will be starting our pilot section of this course in the Fall so as the students work hard to find their phages and characterize them, I intend to share the class' story here as it unfolds.
See the links below to the HHMI SEA webpage, the USciences press release, and phages database to see where students' phages are proudly displayed and accessible to other researchers, viewing one of my own sequenced phages as an example of what students will have at the end of the course.
I can't wait to begin this journey at USciences!