Evergreen turns 50: celebrating Dr. Betty Kutter’s legacy

Issue 223 | May 12, 2023
12 min read
Capsid and Tail

This week, we’re proud to open up registration for the Evergreen Phage Meeting. This year’s Evergreen phage meeting will be in-person (!), absolutely packed with science and activities (!!), and will be a celebration of both Betty’s lifetime of accomplishments and achievements of the phage community that she’s helped build over the past half-century (!!!).

What’s New

“Resistant bacteria do a lot of taking…” The Center for Disease Control published Diane Shader Smith’s story of her daughter Mallory’s battle against a superbug, how phage therapy could have saved her life, and why more people need to share their personal AMR stories to help put a face to these issues.

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AMRPhage therapy

Phables is a new method to resolve phage genomes from fragmented viral metagenomic assemblies. This article by Vijini Mallawaarachchi and colleagues shows how Phables identifies phage-like components, models each component, and identifies genomic paths (>80% of genomes resolved by Phables are longer than the individual contigs identified by existing tools).

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Bioinformatic toolPhage genomics

This paper by Samuel Barnett and Daniel Buckley explores the role of soil viruses in the carbon cycle. They added 13C-labelled carbon sources to soil and used metagenomic-SIP to detect 13C assimilation by viruses and their putative hosts. They found that the viral shunt promotes microbial turnover in soil following new C inputs, altering microbial community dynamics and facilitating soil organic matter production.

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Microbial community dynamicsResearch paperSoil viruses

A new ISME Journal article by Xiang Tang and colleagues shows lysogenic phages with arsM-bearing markers help bacterial communities adapt to trivalent arsenic toxicity. The phage-host interaction enabled the quick spread of arsM among soil microbiota, which improved the community’s arsenic methylation capability.

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Arsenic resistanceMicrobial adaptationResearch paperLysogeny

Pulmonary infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus have been increasing. This study by Mylene Gorzynski and colleagues deepens our understanding of phage–mycobacteria interaction mechanisms and identifies therapeutic phages that can lower bacterial fitness by impairing an antibiotic efflux.

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Phage-host InteractionsResearch paperMycobacterium

Latest Jobs

MetagenomicsPost DocSystems biology
The lab of Dr. Spencer Diamond at UC Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Institute is recruiting postdocs to join a team including Jennifer Doudna and Jillian Banfield to generate a systems level understanding of microbiomes, including the importance of individual microbial species, microbe-microbe interactions, plasmids, and phages.
Research ScientistViral Genomics
The Joint Genome Institute is seeking a Research Scientist to join the Viral Genomics Group and lead research projects to characterize uncultivated viruses and their impact on microbiomes.
Bioreactor process modellingPost DocSynthetic biology
KU Leuven is seeking a postdoc with experience in synthetic biology and/or bioreactor process modelling for a bacterial synthetic biology research project aiming to exploit phage features to reprogram bacterial populations for controlled bioprocessing in a bioreactor.
MetagenomicsPhage-host InteractionsPost Doc
The Silveira lab at the University of Miami is seeking a postdoc to investigate phage-bacteria interactions in South Florida ecosystems.
Walter Reed Army Institute of ResearchPhage therapy Research Technician
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research is seeking a Bacteriophage Therapeutics Research Technician II to establish new lab techniques, analyze results, and maintain lab operations.
Phage discoveryTeachingBiology
Gonzaga University is seeking a teacher-scholar for a one-year, non-tenure-track faculty position to teach introductory biology lecture and lab courses, including our Information Flow in Biological Systems course and a phage discovery lab.
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Three research opportunities are available at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA in Silver Spring, Maryland. The participants’ project aims to evaluate the use of phage to treat Staphyloccocus aureus colonization and/or disease.
Genome BiologyLecturerPhage Biology
University of Leicester is seeking a Lecturer in Phage Biology.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

Phages for Global Health is currently hosting a workshop in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the UST BEATS Research Group (run by Donna May Papa) in the Philippines. Phage scientists from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia are working together to get trained in phage biology. Check out their Facebook group, where they’re updating with workshop pictures daily!

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Phages for Global HealthPhage workshops

Introducing PhageCast, a new podcast that brings you news and interviews covering the exciting world of phages. Hosted by a group of PhD students (David, Maria and Alexandre) from the Azeredo Lab (read about their story, published last week in C&T!), this podcast is a great new resource for staying up-to-date with the field!

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Congratulations to Evelien Adriaenssens, who has passed her tenure review and become a permanent group leader at The Quadram Institute! Evelien has supported/driven so many phage community efforts over the years. She’s taught us all about how to name and classify our phages & annotate their genomes (watched by almost 2000 of you!), and given feedback on almost every crazy idea we’ve had. (We probably wouldn’t still be doing this whole Phage Directory thing without her!)

Here’s her tweet — let’s all spam her with congratulatory messages!

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Evergreen turns 50: celebrating Dr. Betty Kutter’s legacy

Profile Image
Product designer and co-founder of Phage Directory
Co-founderProduct Designer
Iredell Lab, Phage Directory, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia, Phage Australia
Twitter @yawnxyz

Bioinformatics, Data Science, UX Design, Full-stack Engineering

I am a co-founder of Phage Directory, and have a Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a computer science and psychology background from UMBC.

For Phage Directory, I take care of the product design, full-stack engineering, and business / operations aspects.

As of Feb 2022, I’ve recently joined Jon Iredell’s group in Sydney, Australia to build informatics systems for Phage Australia. I’m helping get Phage Australia’s phage therapy system up and running here, working to streamline workflows for phage sourcing, biobanking and collection of phage/bacteria/patient matching and monitoring data, and integrating it all with Phage Directory’s phage exchange, phage alerts and phage atlas systems.

Profile Image
Phage microbiologist and co-founder of Phage Directory
Co-founderPostdoctoral Researcher
Iredell Lab, Phage Directory, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia, Phage Australia

Phage characterization, Phage-host interactions, Phage Therapy, Molecular Biology

I’m a co-founder of Phage Directory and have a Ph.D in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Alberta (I studied Campylobacter phage biology). For Phage Directory, I oversee community building, phage sourcing, communications, science, and our awesome team of volunteers.

As of Feb 2022, I’ve recently joined Jon Iredell’s group in Sydney, Australia as a postdoctoral research scientist for the Phage Australia project. I’m diving back into the lab to help get Phage Australia’s country-wide phage therapy system up and running here, working to streamline workflows for phage sourcing, biobanking and collection of phage/bacteria/patient matching and monitoring data, and integrating it all with Phage Directory’s phage exchange, phage alerts and phage atlas systems. I’m also delving into phage manufacturing and quality control.

Hi Phage Fam,

It’s finally time to register for the 25th Evergreen Phage Meeting!

For Evergreen’s 50th birthday, we wanted to celebrate Betty’s legacy, her lifetime of achievements, and the phage community she’s helped shape.

We’d love to see every person that Betty’s mentorship and generosity has touched come back home to Evergreen to celebrate her legacy and share some stories (and science!).

Evergreen is a feeling

I vividly remember my first Evergreen, just a few years back. Even as a newcomer to the phage field (and not even a biologist!), Betty invited me, Jessica, Fran and Charlie to stay at her house for a week before the Meeting to hike the woods, talk science, and share some great meals.

Right from the start, I knew that Evergreen was different — Evergreen felt like a community — like a family — of phage fanatics. Though many phage conversations went way over my head, how amazing is it that you can talk science with some of the best researchers in the world, while surrounded by nature, hiking a mountain, or wading across a beach?

(And isn’t it funny that Betty then asked us to help her prep a meal for hundreds of attendees at her house, for the first day of the conference? And I coincidentally just had to do the bioinformatics workshops… so sorry for dipping out to go to the Workshops instead of helping out, Fran and Charlie… but your deviled eggs were amazing! 😅 )

Evergreen is the friends we’ve made along the way

Many of us are in the phage field (including me and Jessica!) because of Evergreen Phage Meeting, and from Betty’s decades of generous and tireless efforts to help early career researchers get into the field.

I’ve met so many awesome phage folks — like Shawna and Bob — who were taught or mentored by Betty, and who are now the next generation of phage researchers pushing the boundaries and advancing phage research. I also met so many other great phage folks at the previous Evergreen (before the pandemic years) that I still keep in touch with today (and regularly hit up whenever I’m lost or confused).

As a complete newbie to phages, every single person I’ve met along the way has been kind and generous with their time, knowledge, and patience, to help me get to where I am now. This year, I can’t wait to nerd out about phages this year, now that I’ve spent some time working with phage data, in a real phage lab!

Evergreen is science camp

Evergreen will definitely feature world-class research and amazing workshops — but that’s not what makes Evergreen special.

Evergreen is the moments between the moments. Like skipping school to drink beers and talk phages with important government regulators. Or going on long phage walks on the beach. Or dance night. Or salmon bake. Or Jake’s. Or… getting lost in the woods…

Me and Jan were at Evergreen 2019 and trying to get to the beach where the group had headed after the talks, as per Evergreen tradition. We got lost in the dark and both our phones were either dead or at ~1%. I seriously thought we’d have to sleep in the woods unless we turned back and used our remaining light to get home. It was INSANELY dark, and we were not on a road — we were in a literal forest. After much disagreement we turned back and found our way back somehow… just in time to catch the group returning from the bioluminescent beach walk. Jan was sad to miss it… I was glad to be alive. 😱
— Jessica

Also did you know Evergreen is the reason behind how Jessica and I met in the first place?

We all have these stories, and we’d love to share them and read them. Share your own Evergreen story below (anonymously, if you’d like!). We’ll show these on the Evergreen website, and maybe at Evergreen itself!

Evergreen is more than science

We really mean it when we say science camp.

Of course, we’ll have many full days of rigorous science talks, poster sessions, and bioinformatics workshops. If you want to run a workshop, let us know!

By the way: Abstract submission is now open! We’re on a really tight deadline this year: All Abstracts due June 16. Oral abstracts due June 9. https://evergreen.phage.directory/abstract

This year we’ll be featuring:

  • Movie Night featuring Salt in My Soul with a Q&A with Mallory’s parents
  • Game Night featuring a special phage-themed card game designed by the Nobrega Lab
  • Scavenger Hunt organized TAILOR Labs…
  • The regular events like Bioluminescent Beach Night, Dance Night, Traditional Salmon Bake Dinner, and Mt. Rainier hiking day
  • Unfortunately, Jake’s doors have closed forever…

Early-bird ends May 21: “Spots are limited, so hurry!”

As you’ve probably noticed, Evergreen is quite a bit more expensive this year. This is because this is the first year we’re 100% independent of the Evergreen State College. This means that we don’t receive any support from the College anymore, and are now completely self-funded and self-supported, by sponsors and by the Phagebiotics Foundation.

As such, things cost a bit more for us to run, and unfortunately we’ll need to raise prices to cover the costs. 100% of proceeds go to running the program, paying for venues, hiring buses, and running the show.

Also, “Limited spots” is unfortunately not a joke — we have an allotted 250 on-campus tickets, and we have a max capacity of 500 attendees.

Evergreen Button

For group registration discounts, scholarships and sponsorships, and invoices, please email Ria: at [email protected]. If you encounter any weird technical problems, you can blame me (but also email me) at [email protected]

Also for those of you wondering — we didn’t want to be alarmist, but this is very likely the last “real” Evergreen. Some of the reasons for the launch delays this year were because of Betty’s health, and frankly the only reason we’re doing Evergreen is because we’re betting on Betty being in good health in August. We were very close to calling it quits this year, so we think it’s really important that all her favorite people come out this year.

I can’t tell you how excited I am for this Evergreen! Jessica and I are flying from Sydney to Seattle just to partake in this year’s Evergreen (it’s a 21 hour trip!).

Hope to see you all there, phage phriends!!

— Jan, Jessica, Ria, and the rest of the Evergreen Team

P.s. Please help us spread the word by setting your Twitter / Facebook / Linkedin cover photo to our Evergreen banners! You can find more images on our Media page.

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