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WKU Honors College students present research results at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Symposium

WKU Honors College students present research results at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Symposium

Megan Dillingham and Dimond Shelton, represented the 2016-17 WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration class at the 9th Annual SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance – Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) scientific symposium, sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dillingham and Shelton co-presented a poster entitled “Characteristics of Gordonia phage Getalong (DN) and mycobacteriophages Wachund (F1), Squiggle (B1), Drake55 (A2), Belladonna (K1) and Morpher26 (A4).” The meeting took place June 9-11, 2017 at the Janelia Farm Research campus in Ashburn, VA.

Dr. Rodney King, Dr. Claire Rinehart and Mrs Naomi Rowland, co-mentored Dillingham and Shelton over the past year and Dr. King attended the symposium with the students.

The WKU Biology Department has participated in the SEA-PHAGES program since the fall of 2009. The Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at WKU is designed to engage freshman students in meaningful and authentic research that produces publishable results. Course participants isolate and sequence novel viruses from the soil, contribute the genomic sequences to a public database and address scientific questions on viral diversity and evolution.

During the Symposium, Dillingham and Shelton met the Principal Investigator of the SEA-PHAGES program and HHMI professor, Dr. Graham Hatfull and the Director of the Undergraduate Science Education Program at the HHMI, Dr. David Asai.

The following WKU students contributed to the work presented at the HHMI symposium. James K Anderson, Haley D Austin, Ethan A Brown, Margaret K Cook, Caleb W Curry, Megan E Dillingham, Alicia C Edds, Jaraan R Fernando, Callie A Freeman, Rukmini Ganesh, Clarissa V Gearner, Emily K Guernsey, Jacob C Harris, Olivia Hawkins, Morgan O Holt, Wren A Jenkins, Cydne C Kitchens, Chloe M Lindsey, Jack J Marquardt, Janki R Naidugari, Natalie B Ngong, Emily H Nguyen, Aidan E O'Brien, Deeya D Patel, Meghan T Perez, Dimond A Shelton, Tom J Shervin, Olivia C Simpson, Zachariah N Shone, Mason R Tomko, Tara N Watkins, Summer We, Emily M Xu, Brian Z Zhu; WKU support staff and faculty contributors include Amanda K Staples, Bobby L Gaffney, Rodney A King, Claire A Rinehart and Naomi Rowland.

Dr. King acknowledges partial support for this project from an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health Grant 5P20GM103436.

For more information about WKU’s Genome Discovery and Exploration research class, contact Dr. Rodney King at or Dr. Claire Rinehart at

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 Last Modified 5/2/17