Aaniiih Nakoda College Newsletter
Winter 2017
December 2017
Article by Scott Friskics

Chelsea Morales and Dan Kinsey reviewing samples for phage project.
Aaniiih Nakoda College has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant, Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science in Tribal Colleges and Universities (SEA-PHAGES in TCU's). The grant was offered in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). It is part of a nationwide study involving faculty and students in 141 institutions. Aaniiih Nakoda College was the only Tribal College to receive the award through the National Science Foundation.

Bacteriophages (also simply called phages - think of them as parasites of bacteria) flourish in just about every environment on Earth, and together these particles would outnumber all other forms of life. There is little known about their role in health and/or disease because so few of them having been isolated. However, the newly found knowledge in the fields of genomics, biotechnology and bioinformatics has made this venture a reality, and scientists and their students the world over are on the hunt for these small particles that infect bacteria.

Two faculty members at ANC have embarked on their own hunting expedition as they are now equipped with the sophisticated techniques and complex methods needed to isolate, identify, sequence and analyze newly discovered soil mycobacteriophages. They have just returned from University of Maryland-Baltimore (another HHMI site). Mr. Dan Kinsey and Ms. Chelsea Morales, ANC STEM faculty, will head up this project with their students in hot pursuit of setting their sights on the discovery of an unknown phage or phages. This is a world class teaching and research project for our ANC students. Introducing them to cutting edge techniques and evolving methodologies in our frontier environment will allow them to work with the best of the young emerging scientists of today. The project also includes curriculum development for a new SEA-PHAGES course, as well as paper and poster presentations that students will share with others from all over the world. These are exciting times for STEM faculty and students at ANC. The networks established and opportunities offered will help our students to make positive contributions in the STEM workforce when they graduate at the local, state, national and now international level.

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Aaniiih Nakoda College
P.O. Box 159        Harlem, MT 59526