phage hunters

Phage Hunters

A First-Year Ampersand Program

Dive into reseach your first year

How do you know how much you like something if you have never tried it? This course gives students the opportunity to really do research from the first day of their college career in a more nuturing environment. This two-semester program is a unique chance to do real research as a first-year student. Once you've learned the parameters of the research, the bulk of the time in class is spent doing a year-long experiment. You will find your own starting material for the experiment (a bacteriophage [virus] from soil collected at the start of the semester), and will be guided through the process of analyzing the physical phage structure (fall semester) and details of the phage genome (spring semester). Many students who have taken the course have had their findings published. Proof that we are doing real research!

Whether you discover that you love doing resarch, or that it isn't for you, this course will let you get your first experience in doing biology research to guide your future career choices. You will gain confidence in your ability to understand and do research, which should lead to confidence with upper-level science courses and later research opportunities.

how to apply

The application process for first-year programs and seminars opens on Tuesday, May 15, at noon (CT) and closes on Monday, May 21, at noon (CT). There will be a link to the application webform on the First-Year Programs homepage during this time for you to sign up.

First-Year Programs homepage

Phage Hunters Courses

Fall Course

Bio 191 Phage Hunters

A research-based laboratory class for first-years. Students join a national experiment organized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with the goal of isolating and characterizing bacteriophage viruses found in the soil in the St. Louis area. Laboratory work includes isolation and purification of your own phage, DNA isolation and restriction mapping, and EM characterization of your phage. Several WashU phage are selected for genome sequencing over winter break, and are annotated in the spring in Bio 192, Phage Bioinformatics. Students who successfully isolate and annotate a phage may become co-authors on a scientific paper. One hour lecture, one hour discussion, and 3 hrs lab per week

Spring Course

Bio 192 Phage Bioinformatics

A research-based laboratory class for first-years. Students join a national experiment organized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with the goal of genomic characterization of a local phage. Laboratory work focuses on learning computer-based tools for genome analysis followed by annotation and comparative analysis of the genome of a phage (bacterial virus) that was isolated fall semester at WashU and sequenced over winter break. One hour lecture, one hour discussion, and 3 hrs lab per week