Phage Hunters Lab

Enroll in Phage Hunters Lab for Fall 2017/Spring 2018

Replaces the regular lab component of BIO 111 General biology I, section 106P(fall) and BIO 112 (spring)

We are looking for bright, motivated students who are interested in conducting discovery-based undergraduate research. This unique mentored research experience is a national experiment sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute (HHMI).

Before you register, please email Dr. Steven Leadon or Dr. Marie Fogarty for more information.

Space is limited to 18 students.

Student Requirements:

  • Full-year commitment preferred (fall and spring semesters)
    Lecture: Mondays and Wednesdays, 8–9:15 a.m.
    Lab: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30–11:10 a.m.
  • Be excited about scientific research


  • Opportunity to engage in résumé-enhancing authentic research
  • Gain experience with specialized techniques including DNA analysis, electron microscopy, and bioinformatics techniques
  • Chance to discover and name your own virus
  • Learn skills that will prepare you to work in a research lab
Michael Herrera and Roselyn Barahona standing in front of their rresearch poster Michael Herrera, 31, and Roselyn Barahona, 18, presented their research describing the characterization of two novel phages that are isolated in the gardens of North Carolina at the ninth annual SEA-PHAGES Symposium at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia. Read more


We will start the fall semester by digging in soil to isolate new bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria). Viruses will be characterized in the lab using microbiology and molecular biology techniques and sent for sequencing over winter break.

When we return for the spring semester we will analyze our newly sequenced viral genomes using bioinformatics approaches.

  Part 1: Phage Discovery
Fall Isolate, characterize, purify phage
EM at UNC-CH Isolate and purify DNA Characterize DNA Send to sequencing center
Late Nov./Early Dec.
BREAK Genomes are sequenced and assembled off-site during the winter recess
  Part 2: Phage Genome Annotation
Spring Genome sequences returned
Genomes organized and annotated Post-annotation phage exeriments Novel sequences named and subitted to GenBank

For more information email:

Dr. Marie Fogarty:
Dr. Steven Leadon: