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STLCC-Meramec Students Discover New Viruses

Students participate in SEA-PHAGES program

Shortcake. Lora. Rideordie. PinheadLarry.

These aren’t bizarre nicknames or Twitter monikers. They are the names of some of the 11 new viruses biology students from St. Louis Community College-Meramec have discovered in the past year.

These students are part of the Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program. This revolutionary two-semester program introduces original research into freshman biology labs.

The program begins with digging in the soil to find new viruses, progresses through a variety of microbiology techniques and ends with complex genome annotation and bioinformatic analyses. Participating students have the opportunity to name a new organism, present their findings at a national meeting and co-author a scientific paper.

More than 100 colleges and universities across the nation are participating in the SEA-PHAGES program. Yet, STLCC is one of only a handful of community colleges currently participating. The program aims to increase undergraduate interest and retention in the biological sciences through immediate immersion in authentic, valuable, university-level research.

Two Meramec students, Taylor Gray and Fred Wuliger, presented their data at the 10th Annual SEA Symposium, a national meeting held in Washington, D.C.

For more information about STLCC’s SEA-PHAGES program, contact Bob Harms at rharms@stlcc.edu, or Tom Peters at tpeters34@stlcc.edu.

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