Students present research on organism they helped discover

Two Merrimack College undergraduates who helped discover a new bacteriophage presented their research earlier this month at a prestigious national conference.

Anthony Preston and Allison Langone explained their discovery of the Hopey Phage at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance PHAGES Conference, which drew more than 200 students and faculty from 80 institutions of higher education. Langone and Preston worked on a Merrimack team led by associate professor Janine Leblanc-Straceski that discovered the bacteriophage — a kind of virus that infects bacteria — in a muddy tire track on the Merrimack campus. This new bacteriophage’s DNA was isolated, purified, and sent off to the University of Pittsburg for full genome sequencing.

The newly identified phage was named after Merrimack’s president, Dr. Christopher E. Hopey.

Besides Preston and Langone, students involved in the research through the college’s Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences were Gwendolyn Vasquez, Miranda Gagnon, Michael DiVito, Joshua Gallant, Daniel Gomez, Julie Joyce, Emilee MacLean and Nicholas Flaherty.