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Perform undergrad research and get published!
When was the last time you dug in the dirt for viruses? Took a field trip to use an electron microscope? Or named a bacteriophage as part of a national research project? This is your chance to potentially discover a previously unknown bacteriophage, learn cutting-edge molecular biologic techniques, apply bioinformatics (the use of computer software and scientific methodology to understand data) to identify genes in DNA sequences and possibly co-author a scientific publication.
Chair of Science Division, Assistant Professor, Biology
Location: SCIENCES (S) 51
Want the chance to do RESEARCH as an undergrad and discover new bacteriophages?

As an ACM PhageHunter, you have the opportunity to become involved in a project that:

  • Allows you to discover a previously undiscovered bacteriophage and to name it
  • Teaches you techniques such as micropipetting, aseptic techniques, and DNA isolation
  • Identifies genes in DNA sequences using bioinformatics
  • Gives you the chance to co-author a scientific publication in a national genetic database

This program is a research experience aimed at undergraduates who are interested in participating in a beginner research project. Through the SEA-PHAGES program curriculum from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), you, as a student, along with other students from over 100 colleges internationally, will contribute to the discovery of new viruses that specifically target bacteria. You will have the chance to gain valuable research experience that most community college students do not have the opportunity to obtain, especially as a first year student.

In the Fall semester, you will isolate bacteriophages from locally-collected environmental samples, which will then be purified and characterized. The extracted DNA from these samples will then be used for further analysis. By the end of the first semester, you will have selected phages for DNA sequencing.

In the Spring semester, you will employ bioinformatics methods to interpret the isolated DNA sequence collected from your bacteriophage. After quality control checks to ensure the right techniques are being utilized to purify the DNA, the phage’s analyzed sequence will be submitted to the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank database ( If the phage is one that has yet to be discovered and is new to the database, YOU get to choose what that phage will be named.

At the end of the school year, one student and a faculty member from ACM will present their work at the annual National SEA-PHAGES Symposium, which is a student-centered scientific meeting with other SEA-PHAGE colleagues. Students will also have the opportunity to present their results at the annual Maryland STEM Conference.

This program is listed under General Biology 101 in the Fall and General Biology 102 in the Spring. If you already have your General Biology credits, including Early College, and you still want to be a part of the research, you can sign up for this program under Biology 299/Special Problems for 1 credit and still get the research experience of the lab.

Check out what other SEA PHAGE students have done

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Meet the Faculty

Our experienced, knowledgeable faculty are excited to share their expertise with you and prepare you to succeed in the diverse, scientific field of PhageHunters.

Michele Barmoy
Professor, Biology

Science 67

B.A., University Maryland Baltimore County
M.S., Frostburg State University

Cassie Foster
Chair of Science Division, Assistant Professor, Biology

Science 51

B.S., Wheeling Jesuit College
M.S., West Virginia University

Joy Freidenbloom
Science Lab Coordinator

Science 52

B.S., Pennsylvania State University

Steven Heninger
Professor, Chemistry/Physics

Science 70

B.S., UNiversity of Connecticut
M.S., Pennsylvania State University

Roberta Mills
Office Manager, Science Division and Auto Technology

Science 50

A.A.S., Allegany College of Maryland

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