Being a virus hunter for a day

SAN GERMAN, PUERTO RICO - Karyna Rosario and Erin Symonds from the Breitbart lab recently conducted a two-day outreach activity in the Laura Mercado Secondary School located in a rural area in San Germán, Puerto Rico to teach seventh graders about the world of viruses. The students learned about viruses and insects and had the opportunity to be virus hunters for a day.

The overarching goal was to have students collect insect specimens that will be processed in our lab as part of a current project investigating a novel group of single-stranded DNA viruses in invertebrates. The outreach activity was supported by an NSF Assembling the Tree of Life grant and conducted in collaboration with Dr. José L. Agosto Rivera, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

Mya Breitbart

ST. PETERSBURG - Mya’s marine genomics laboratory, currently consisting of 8 graduate students, 2 postdocs, and 2 undergraduate interns, had an extremely successful year.   Her lab continues to lead the way in the field of environmental viral discovery, publishing findings of new viruses in a wide range of organisms, including shrimp, dragonflies, cockroaches, and bats!  Especially exciting was the first discovery of viruses in copepods, which are the most abundant animals in the oceans.  This study, which has important implications for oceanic food webs and biogeochemistry, was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  In 2013, Mya was recognized as one of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant Ten” Young Researchers, received Honorable Mention for the USF Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, and was a highlighted FabFems Role Model.  Students from the Breitbart lab performed research and gave presentations all over the world, including Brazil, Bolivia, Scotland, and China.  Finally, Mya co-founded the “Tampa Bay’s Tiniest Biology” club with Shannon McQuaig from St. Petersburg College to bring together the microbiology researchers in Tampa Bay.   This monthly seminar series has been a huge success, with an average of 75 participants at each meeting.

Get to know Dr. Mya Breitbart.