Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has been accepted into the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance.

As members of the alliance, LMU faculty and undergraduate students in the Department of Biology of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering will participate in a three-year national research project, in conjunction with faculty and students at 35 colleges and universities around the country.

“Seaver College has a strong track record of involving undergraduates in true scientific discovery,” said Gary Kuleck, associate dean for research at Seaver College and associate professor of biology. “This program is an amazing opportunity for our students to participate in authentic research and to hit the ground running.

“Even as freshmen, they learn to think and act as scientists. It also provides faculty an opportunity to combine innovative teaching and research components into the curriculum.”

Kuleck and Carl Urbinati, assistant professor of biology, will jointly oversee the project in the coming academic year.

The medical institute established the alliance in 2007 and committed $4 million over four years to the National Genomics Research Initiative, a two-part, year-long course that enables students to make discoveries by doing research on bacterial viruses called phage.

Participating classes isolate phage and decode the genomes, making significant contributions to the field of genomics, according to the institute.

The goal of the science and education alliance is to assist innovative science programs for undergraduates that will encourage them to enter research as a career. Participating schools are selected through national competitions.

LMU is one of 12 universities this year to join the alliance, which is working on the National Genomics Research Initiative.