Second semester in Phage Hunting has been completely different from the fall. Last semester, we were in a standard biology lab every class, performing titer assays and streaks to isolate our own unique phage. I became the proud parent of AverageJoe! The highlight of my semester was the day I was finally able to see him for the first time on the electron microscope. As much as I loved him and wanted to keep working with him, I had to archive him and begin working on annotating Manatee’s genome for this semester. Since we came back to school in January, our lab became completely different; instead of wearing spiffy lab coats and plating bacteria, we sat in a circle with our laptops out and discussed different genes. Not your typical bio lab, right? It took me awhile to figure out how I could analyze start and stop codons, Shine-Dalgarno sequences, and blast hits to determine whether one of Manatee’s possible genes was in fact a true gene with a specific function, but with our professors’ and TAs’ help, I was analyzing genes in no time at all by the end.
Working on annotating a genome showed me a side of biology that I’d never been exposed to, but I was definitely glad when we found out that we would be able to go back to wet lab to work on our own independent projects. It took me awhile to figure out what kind of project I wanted to do, but after much deliberation, I decided to determine whether AverageJoe produced lysogens. I never thought that I’d be designing my own mini-research project as a freshman at a place like Hopkins, but I got to anyway! The Phage Hunting class has given me so much beneficial lab experience that I’ll be able to use to my advantage when I’m working on other research and lab projects as an upperclassman.