Science Education Alliance

The Science Education Alliance (SEA) works with hundreds of college and university faculty members around the country to engage thousands of undergraduate students each year in authentic scientific discovery early in their academic careers.

Join the SEA

Apply before November 18, 2016 to begin offering the SEA-PHAGES course in 2017-2018.  

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The Science Education Alliance (SEA) provides faculty members at colleges and universities with opportunities to engage students in research-based curricula early in their academic careers. By doing so, SEA teaches students how to approach scientific problems creatively and critically and prepares them for advanced research opportunities later in their academic careers.

SEA advances science education on a national scale by supporting faculty members in implementing course-based research experiences at their institutions. This practice establishes cohorts of students, educators, and institutions that are connected and have the ability to collaborate nationally.

SEA currently is offering colleges and universities the opportunity to participate in the Phage Hunters Advancing Genomic and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program, which is a national research-based laboratory course aimed at early-career science students. Students from participating colleges and universities isolate and characterize bacteriophages from local environments, annotate the phage genomes, and submit the annotated sequences to the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank database. At the end of the year, student and faculty representatives from participating schools attend the SEA Symposium, a scientific meeting at which participants share and discuss their discoveries. In 2015–16 more than 3,400 mostly first-year students from 84 different colleges and universities took part. The SEA-PHAGES program has generated more than 20 peer-reviewed publications to date.

Locations of sequenced mycobacteriophages across the United States, labeled according to sequence similarity. 


Students acquire early, meaningful research experiences that make them feel a part of the scientific community. They are more productive, competitive, and prepared for advanced research opportunities and graduate school later in their undergraduate careers.

For example, the PHAGES course provides students with

an Opportunity for Critical Thinking, via

  • data analysis and interpretation
  • experimental design
  • reading and analysis of primary literature
  • understanding applications of mathematical modeling in problem solving

an Introduction to Scientific Skills and Techniques, including

  • aseptic technique
  • microbiology
  • molecular biology
  • microscopy
  • DNA sequencing
  • genome annotation
  • comparative and functional genomics

an Opportunity for Professional Development, via

  • effective presentation of research
  • networking with other SEA participants
  • dissemination of research findings, including co-authorship on submission to genome databases and peer-reviewed publications – see below.

A Selection of Student Publications

Genomic characterization and comparison of seven Myoviridae bacteriophage infecting Bacillus thuringiensis. Virology. 2016.

Whole genome comparison of a large collection of mycobacteriophages reveals a continuum of phage genetic diversity. eLIFE. 2015.

Comparative genomics of Cluster O mycobacteriophages. PLoS One. 2015.

Cluster M mycobacteriophages Bongo, PegLeg, and Rey with unusually large repertoires of tRNA isotypes. Journal of Virology. 2014.

Genomic characterization of six novel Bacillus pumilus bacteriophages. Virology. 2013.

Cluster J mycobacteriophages:intron splicing in capsid and tail genes. PLoS One. 2013.

Complete genome sequences of 138 mycobacteriophages. Journal of Virology. 2012.

Mycobacteriophage Marvin: a new singleton phage with an unusual genome organization. Journal of Virology. 2012.

Cluster K mycobacteriophages: insights into the evolutionary origins of mycobacteriophage TM4. PLoS One.  2011.

Expanding the diversity of mycobacteriophages: Insights into genome architecture and evolution. PLoS One. 2011.

For a complete list of student publications, click here.

The SEA-PHAGES course is open to all colleges and universities. Selection is primarily based on the readiness and commitment of the applying institution to offer and sustain the course beyond the first year.

Applications to join SEA and offer the SEA-PHAGES course are solicited the fall prior to each academic year.

For more information, see:

2017 Program Announcement

2017 Application Guidelines and Instructions

2017 Application Form

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