Honors students present Phage Lab research at VUU symposium
January 3, 2018
Honors student Santosha Veeramachaneni and other students from the VCU Phage Lab attended a research symposium in November at Virginia Union University. The “Phall Phage Phair” symposium was hosted by VUU for all of the faculty and students in Virginia who participate in a 'phage hunting' course sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Santosha presented a poster about the team’s work to discover novel viruses infecting host bacteria M. foliorum, Gordonia, and Bacillus thuringiensis as part of Dr. Allison Johnson’s class, BNFO 251: Phage Discovery Laboratory at VCU.
“The research symposium was a compilation of months of lab work, consisting of collecting a soil sample from outside the lab, filtering and isolating the bacteriophages inside the sample, growing the phages on lawns of bacteria, and finally taking electron microscopy pictures of the phages,” Santosha explained.
From the work done to DNA sequence new phages by VCU Phage Lab students, microbiologists can analyze the functions of different genes in individual bacteriophages, which has implications in medicine and biomedical engineering fields. The VCU Phage Lab is part of a scientific alliance known as SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science), whose mission is to immerse undergraduates in authentic and scientifically valuable research.
“The conference was a great learning experience about the world of research,” Santosha added. Fellow Honors student Sahana Tharakan, another member of Santosha’s poster team, was unable to attend the symposium, but did much of the work to design their poster.