What is a phage?

A phage, also known as a bacteriophage, is a virus that specifically infects bacteria. In this course we will explore phage molecular biology and isolate phage from the environment. The potential for isolating a completely novel phage never before studied is very high.

What is bioinformatics/genomics?

Bioinformatics and genomics are relatively new fields in biology that merge computer science with biology. The overall goals of the fields are to analyze and compare genome sequences. In this course you will apply these techniques by analyzing a phage genome that you have isolated.

How will participating in these courses benefit me?

Sophomores are seldom given the opportunity to experience discovery research because of the resource-intensive nature of fundamental research. As a member of SEA, the Bucknell biology department can change the typical approach to undergraduate research. This nationwide endeavor makes the research experience an integrated part of your core curriculum.

You will work on your own research project under the guidance of two faculty members. Since everyone in the course will be using the same protocols, you will have a built-in buddy system. You will leave the course with hands-on experience using techniques and equipment of molecular genetics, electron microscopy and significant experience using state-of-the-art bioinformatic computer programs. You will be generating novel data and contributing to our knowledge about bacterial viruses.

By the end of your sophomore year you could be a contributing author on a publication in a nationally or internationally renowned journal. You may have the opportunity to attend regional microbiology meetings or SEA/HHMI seminars. You will be part of a national network of scientists and could have the opportunity to spend the summer conducting research at another SEA institute. You will have research experience a year earlier than most of your peers at Bucknell.

How do I apply?

The application form is available online using this link. Access to the application requires a myBucknell login. Applications are due Friday, March 29th. You will be informed by Wednesday, April 3rd of your acceptance, which is before you will need to register for fall semester classes.

What courses will I take?

Courses: If selected to participate in Phage Hunters you will take 2 half-credit courses in 2013-2014. In the Fall 2013 semester you will take Phage Hunters I in addition to BIOL 207: Genetics. In the Spring 2014 semester you will take Phage Hunters II in addition to either BIOL 208: Population Biology and Ecology OR Biol 327: Molecular Biology. (This difference is due to differences between the Biology degree and the Cell Biology/Biochemistry degree.) All interested students, regardless of major are encouraged to apply but must meet the prerequisites for BIOL 207.

BIOL 231 - Phage Hunters - Part I (Fall; 4 hours in lab/week)

Students in this investigative laboratory course will isolate viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages) from soil samples, produce large quantities of the bacteriophage, and characterize the genome using molecular genetics techniques. Prerequisite: BIOL205 and permission of the instructor. Co-requisite: BIOL 207.

BIOL 232 - Phage Hunters - Part II (Spring; 4 hours in lab/week)

Continuation of BIOL231. Students will learn the theory and application of bioinformatics and genomics to analyze the genome sequence of a bacteriophage isolated from soil samples. Prerequisites: BIOL 231 or permission of the instructor.