Research results from 9 WKU students published in Open Access journal

Nine WKU undergraduate research students are authors on a manuscript published in the July issue of PLOS ONE, the world’s first multidisciplinary Open Access journal. 

The students are Katherine G. Allen of Kevil, Conner B. Brown of Louisville, Milan Doan of Paducah, Michael A. Goedde of Owensboro, Kelly C. Lynch of Glasgow, Christopher M. McDaniel of Bowling Green, Elizabeth A. Oates of Central City, Allison R. Thompson of Liberty and Kaitlyn E. Wathen of Louisville.

The WKU students were part of an effort to sequence and analyze the genomes of bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophages) as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science Education Alliance (SEA). Forty-six bacteriophage genomes isolated from a single species of Arthrobacter bacteria were analyzed in the study.  

The WKU students discovered, named and characterized bacteriophages “KellEzio” and “MudCat” during a yearlong course-based research experience offered in the Biology Department (Biology 212, Genome Discovery and Exploration and Biology 312, Bioinformatics).  Through a collaborative effort, the students discovered these phages have unusual features such as an uncommonly long tail (KellEzio) and prolate (elongated) heads (MudCat). 

“WKU students are actively contributing to our understanding of the most numerous biological entities on the planet.  It is exciting to see them embrace this challenging but rewarding course-based research experience,” said Dr. Rodney King, an author on the study and a Professor in the Department of Biology. 

Additional WKU authors include Dr. Claire Rinehart, a Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the WKU Bioinformatics and Information Science Center; Dr. Bobby Gaffney, a Bioinformatician in the Bioinformatics and Information Science Center; and Amanda Staples, a research technician in the Biology Department.

The article titled “Tales of diversity: Genomic and morphological characteristics of forty-six Arthrobacter phages” can be freely accessed at

A grant from KBRIN (Kentucky Biomedical Infrastructure Network; Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health Grant 5P20GM103436) partially supported this project and has expanded this classroom-based research experience to additional schools throughout the Commonwealth.

Contact: Rodney King, (270) 745-6910; or Claire Rinehart, (270) 745-6892

Posted with permission from WKU News