Hope College Innovation Exposition 2013
The Hope College Department of Biology is entering its 6th year of the Phage Genomics Research Honors Laboratory course offered to first-year college students as an alternative to the standard Hope College Introductory Biology lab. This course is part of a national experiment to improve education in the sciences led by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Hope College was selected as one of 12 institutions nationwide to pilot this program. Students for the honors laboratory course at Hope College were selected from a restricted pool of applicants earning high scores on the ACT and/or SAT college entrance exams and showing an interest in science. Lab sessions ran twice a week for a total of 5 hours in the fall (phage/DNA isolation semester) and 4 hours in the spring (bioinformatics work). In the fall, students worked independently and presented their findings in research article style written reports, whereas in the spring, students were organized in teams of three or four, analyzed the sequenced genome, and highlighted their findings in student-driven journal article discussions and group oral presentations. During the first 5 years of the program, 98 of 99 students successfully isolated novel mycobacteriophage from the Holland area and 11 of the phage genomes have been sequenced. The HHMI course outline has been supplemented with additional laboratory and analysis skills during the fall semester based on subject material covered in the standard Hope College Introductory Biology core course. This included statistical analysis (phage plaque size) and microscopy (differential staining of the host strain, M. smegmatis). During the spring semester students have been introduced to computer programming and bioinformatic databases through a series of individual and group assignments. The phage program has been highly successful for recruitment and retention of high quality students to Hope College, the Division of Natural and Applied Sciences, and the Department of Biology.
Repository citation: Best, Aaron and Stukey, Joseph, "The Phage Genomics Research Program - Authentic Research for First Year Students" (2013). Faculty Presentations. Paper 6.
Fall August 22, 2013.