Rookie Initiation

By Winston Jin

“We are still waiting for Phatniss to be sequenced, but there is also the possibility of Tacocat being sequenced as well. Meanwhile, let’s look at sample genomes of Doom and Bipolar from the Phamerator,” announced Dr. Schildbach in all seriousness. Looking at the blank faces of the few new students who have just joined us in the second semester, I can only imagine how confused and intimidated they must be on their first day as rookie phage hunters. Not only will the new members of the class have to get used to the ridiculous phage names, they must also learn to endure all the craziness from their fellow “veteran” phage hunters.

All jokes aside, first semester of phage hunting has been successful and enjoyable. It seems like all of us in the class were able to conduct proper research while building close relationships with each other. Needless to say we were all excited to begin the second chapter of our phage hunting journey. Much like the start of the first semester, Dr. Schildbach did not hesitate to jump right into the meat and bones of the content we will be learning this semester. We started by installing VirtualBox, Windows, DNA Master and Phamerator on our computers, then went on to examine two detailed analyses of sequenced phage genomes. The readings were difficult to understand at first, but after some independent research and in-class discussions, we were able to gain insight on the advanced research on phages that is conducted today.

Although it may seem overwhelming at first, Phage Hunting is actually a whole lot of fun. The class challenges us to learn independently, while encouraging us to form original ideas. More importantly, the class offers the opportunity to implement these original ideas, and allows us to conduct our own experiments on phages under the guidance of Dr. Schildbach. So to all the noobies in the class, hang in there, don’t be intimated by the challenge, embrace it. With that being said, welcome to the phamily y’all (never gets old)!

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