The phages shown above were discovered by Riley Hellinger, which have since been completely sequenced.

BRIC is a unique pipeline program from Montana Tech, in which high school students engage in an authentic 3-day phage discovery project. If any phages are discovered, the student researcher names the phage and enters the new-to-science information at the website, The Actinobacteriophage Database.* These students, in essence, become citizen scientists, contributing to microbiology research efforts in the real-world.

To date, BRIC students have discovered over 100 new phages, of which 10 have been sequenced and annotated, and 8 are currently being sequenced.

It is no surprise then that many students who participate in this exciting program move forward to become SEPA-INBRE undergraduate students focusing on biomedical fields of study.

The BRIC program does not stop there. Teachers are offered professional development through two online courses and two summer programs, and submitting their research efforts for publication. Several BRIC teachers have gone on to develop curriculum, and to continue the phage-discovery program in their own classrooms.

Discover this innovative program’s in-depth approach to engaging students not only in the classroom, but also in providing a pipeline for their future career aspirations.


*The Actinobacteriophage Database is a comprehensive, interactive, database-backed website that collects and shares information related to the discovery, characterization, and genomics of viruses that infect Actinobacterial hosts. As of August 2018, 13,155 total phages have discovered and entered into the database, with approximately 2,590 of those having been completely sequenced. It was developed and is maintained by the Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh.

Associated Project:
Bringing Research into the Classroom (BRIC): Building the Biomedical Pipeline
Associated Institution:
Montana Technology University
News Contact:
Pedulla, Marisa L – PhD