Dr. Sandra Adams looking at a sample

Phage Genomics Program

The Department of Biology offers freshman students an innovative program in bacteriophage genomics research funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The courses are team-taught by Drs. Sandra Adams (primary contact), Kirsten-Monsen-Collar and Quinn Vega.

HHMI Science Education Alliance (SEA) gives undergraduate students at select colleges and universities across the nation the opportunity to do hands-on, original research studying bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria). Montclair State University is the only institution in New Jersey with full membership, an honor it achieved in 2011 as part of the fourth cohort.

The bacteriophage genomics program is offered in two semesters:

Principles of Biology I (BIOL 112) – Fall

  • Students will isolate phage collected from local soil samples, purify their phage, extract DNA, use restriction enzymes to characterize it, and prepare the phage for electron microscopy. Additionally, students name the phage for inclusion in a national database, phagesdb.org. The purified DNA from one phage is then sent for sequencing at a partner institution.

Principles of Biology II (BIOL 113) – Spring

  • Students receive digital files from HHMI containing the selected phage’s genome sequence. The students will then use bioinformatics tools to annotate the phage.