The PC phage hunter crew enjoyed a break this weekend from the emotional roller coaster that is phage lab. Dr. Cornely welcomed us to her house for an evening of pizza and pumpkin carving. After we all had our fill of pizza, the pumpkin carving commenced, with many creative pumpkin designs. Several people, the traditionalists among us, fashioned a traditional Jack-O-Lantern face. Others were more creative and invented their own designs including an elephant, the monopoly man, a vomiting pumpkin, and yes, a pumpkin that referenced a phage. Once we all finished carving, the pumpkins were lined up and lit, looking rather festive. The rest of the evening was dedicated to celebrating Dr. Cornely’s birthday with cake, ice cream, and a particularly in tune rendition of “Happy Birthday”, the perfect ending to a lovely evening.
Cayla Stifler ’16
A video blog post by Justin Ayala ’16 and Brittany Mandeville ’16 featuring several of their classmates at work in the phage hunters lab.
A video blog post by Justin Ayala ’16 and Brittany Mandeville ’16 featuring a typical afternoon in the friar phage hunters’ lab.
Brittany Mandeville is from Scituate, Rhode Island. She is majoring in biology because she is seeking a career that will allow her to help both people and animals through her research. Her favorite TV show is SNL, because she aspires to be exactly like Kristen Wiig. The best vacation she has ever been on was to Quebec, Canada. She stayed there with her family and her best friend, and enjoyed riding in a horse drawn carriage and eating the best waffles she has ever had. Brittany’s life motto is “Let Life Unfold” and even has an adorable bracelet that features this saying.
Brittany Mandeville’16 (L) and Justin Ayala’16 (R)
Justin Ayala is from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He is majoring in biology because he finds the sciences purely fascinating, especially when studying the environment and research. His favorite TV show is Revenge. His favorite vacation was when he went to Italy, because the culture there is much more laid back and friendly, and the landscape is very beautiful. His life motto is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
We call Brittany Mandeville and Justin Ayala the “grandparents” of our phage hunters group because they have allowed many of their fellow hunters adopt their species of phage for purification. The lab is filled with their phage’s “children” and many of us have become proud aunts and uncles to their plaques. It seems to be the beginning of a large and happy family here at Providence!
Michelle Fernando ’16
On October 2, 2013, Providence College hosted its 4th Annual Sigma Xi Poster Session that featured student posters from the science departments here at PC. It was held in the upper lounge area of Slavin Hall on campus. Students who had done research over the summer described their work to faculty and students who dropped by. The Friar Phage Hunters made their debut at this poster session when Molly Berning ’15 and Torie Schwartz ’15 – now phage hunter alumni – described the research that they and their classmates had accomplished last year to isolate and characterize phage Job42.
Torie Schwartz ’15 (L) and Molly Berning ’15 (R) describing the Isolation and Characterization of the Novel Phages Isolated by the Friar Phage Hunters Class 2011-12
Though many of our classmates were able to isolate phage plaques, sadly Phage Hunter Dan Cahaly and I were unsuccessful even after two attempts. Fortunately, fellow Phage Hunter Justin Ayala had cultivated many different strains of phage and was generous enough to put some of his phage plaques up for adoption. Dan and I were thrilled to become “adoptive parents” and were able to adopt a beautiful, 5mm plaque.
Adoptive Parents Heloise Dubois ’16 (L) and Dan Cahaly ’16 (R) with their Still Un-named Adopted Phage
We began the purification process and to our greatest happiness, we had numerous strains of phage in our sample. However, before we can pick a name for our adopted phage, we will need to conduct at least two more rounds of purification to ensure a pure strain of phage that we can truly call our own. Though we were not able to isolate our own phage, Dan and I couldn’t be happier with our adoption. We will keep you posted on the growth of our beautiful phage and our happy family!
Heloise Dubois ’16
Hello fellow phage enthusiasts of the world! This has been an exciting week in the lives of the Friar Phage Hunters as we enriched, centrifuged, filtered, diluted, infected, and most worryingly waited to answer the key question on everyone’s mind – DID WE GET PHAGE?
Several plates of plaques from this week’s work.
Despite only three Phage Hunters obtaining viruses the first go around, the rest of us did not give up hope as we repeated the processes from the prior week and a half with new samples in hope of obtaining phage. Phage Hunters wandered campus in the dead of night searching for new, promising sites to obtain soi, which maybe – just maybe – would prove positive for phage.
For some phage hunters, the second round did the trick. Petri dishes were blown out with phage big and small. Webs of M. smegmatis were so thin it seemed no bacteria was left. Other plates had plaques distinct enough to be chosen, but not so monstrous that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.
For others, through the generosity of our Phage Adoption Program, individuals or partners will find a phage to call their very own by picking unique plaques from the plates of those fortunate enough to find two or three morphologies. Now it is time to purify and obtain one unique strain of bacteriophage so we can move on to the next step: DNA Isolation.
Until next time.
Christina Perri ’16