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Immaculata sophomore Dylan Chudoff made an important discovery—well,
actually five important discoveries. He successfully isolated five undiscovered
viruses that infect bacteria, which he was then able to officially identify and name.
Chudoff took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for the
What was the purpose of your SEPCHE-sponsored
summer internship at Cabrini College?
My summer internship was focused on updating and shortening a long
protocol on discovering bacteriophages (viruses). My research group also
had the task of isolating phages of our own, and becoming familiar with
microbiology equipment and techniques. Over the course of the summer,
I isolated two bacteriophages and co-authored a paper for
The Journal of
. [Chudoff later isolated three additional bacteriophages
How difficult was the process for discovering
The original protocol of isolating bacteriophages from a soil sample was
very difficult. The original protocol required an incubation period of the
soil sample that ranged from a couple of hours to a couple of days. This
made the process hard and very frustrating. That protocol had found 83
bacteriophages within the timespan of five years.
By the time we were finished putting together the protocol, my internship
class had isolated 28 bacteriophages in less than two months.
It seems pretty incredible to find so many viruses/
phages—why do you think you were so successful?
Well, truthfully, at Cabrini College, my microbiological techniques in the lab
were phenomenal (I was told this by my professor and teaching assistant).
I had no prior experience in the lab before that internship, so I spent many
hours outside of the lab researching the many techniques and many hours
in the lab practicing. I also have to give credit to my professor and teaching
assistant for their great assistance.
Have you worked extensively with laboratory
No! I have never spent time in a lab outside of freshman year cellular
biology and genetics.
Given the urgency to develop alternatives to
antibiotics, what do you think the future holds
for phage therapy?
I love the topic of phage therapy! Antibiotics are great for their ability to
kill bacteria with minimal symptoms, but the problem is the ability of the
infectious bacteria to mutate! The best part about bacteriophages is that
as viruses, they mutate too! So if you have a certain bacterial infection,
you could inject a corresponding bacteriophage into the body and it will
attack that bacterial infection until the bacteria causing the infection is
RAISE YOUR HAND:
Immaculata is lucky that you are sharing your
knowledge with other IU students and guiding their
research. How has the experience been for you?
The experience has been like no other. I have tutored classmates and other
students before, but not something like this. To help others develop a
research background from no prior experience is exceptional. My research,
and that of the other students this year, is funded by a mini-grant from
the Office of Sponsored Research with Dr. Kelly Orlando and Sister Susan
Cronin, Ph.D., as advisors.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is undetermined thus far. I know that I want to attain a job in
the medical field after I attend medical school, but I am still juggling with the
idea that I might also wish to pursue an M.B.A. or a Ph.D.
What is your “dream” job?
My dream job is one that my mother has achieved by being a nurse
practitioner. I wish to work hand-in-hand with patients on a daily basis and
know that my job is working toward seeing patients become healthier after
What advice would you give to other students
who wish to succeed in the Biology field?
For students in the field of Biology, I would advise them to take every
opportunity that arises. My internship opportunity was offered to me
because I raised my hand. The opportunity was announced during one of the
Biology Department’s colloquiums. From a raise of a hand, I then applied
for the opportunity. With my fortunate grades and positive standing with my
professors, I was accepted into the internship. I had an amazing summer of
research; discovered bacteriophages that are on an international database
with my name on them; guided five students who are conducting research;
won an award for second place at the University of Maryland, Baltimore
Campus, Honors College poster conference; and I was featured on the front
page of my University’s newspaper. All of those accolades would not have
been possible if I didn’t raise my hand.