MBL September Courses: September 9 to 27, 2019

MBL in Woods Hole, Massachusetts


Information Sessions:

There will be an information session in February and another in March for interested students. Times and dates TBA.


An Overview of the Program

The College is offering three courses in September of 2019 at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. These intensive, three-week long courses are designed for students with a strong interest in research in the sciences. All are taught by University of Chicago and MBL faculty, and take advantage of both the unique research strengths and the natural environmental resources found at MBL.

Pagurus pollicaris in shell w/ Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus fr. Gulf Specimen Panacea, FL Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Arthropoda Subphylum: Crustacea Class: Malacostraca Order: Decapoda Superfamily: Paguroidea Family: Paguridae Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Cn

The courses will each meet 5-6 days/week, 8 hours per day, typically with lecture in the mornings and lab or field work in the afternoons. Students may only enroll in one course. Classes are small (15 students maximum), and the teaching environment will allow extensive contact with the instructors. The course topics cross several disciplines; students in majors such as Biological Sciences, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, Molecular Engineering, Geophysical and Environmental sciences, and Chemistry are particularly encouraged to consider these opportunities.

Each course carries 100 units of credit. All courses count as upper level electives for Biological Sciences majors; for students in other majors, the courses can be used as Biology Topics courses to fulfill the second quarter of the general education requirement in biology. Descriptions for BIOS 27720: Microbiomes Across Environments, BIOS 27721: Observing Proteins in Action: How to Design and Build your own instruments, and BIOS 27723: BIOS 27723.  Biodiversity and Genomics: Exploring the marine animal diversity of Woods Hole using molecular tools can be found below.

Students register for a September MBL course as part of their Autumn quarter course load. The courses will take place from September 9 through September 27, 2019. This allows students to return to campus in time for the remainder of the Autumn quarter. Since the courses at MBL are considered part of Autumn quarter, students who participate in the program will take either two or three hundred units of credit for the rest of the quarter. This is something applicants should consider carefully when looking at major and general education requirements.

For questions about the program, contact Jocelyn Malamy at jmalamy@bsd.uchicago.edu.

Side view of an octopus swimming. Photo by Tom Kleindinst


Cost and Financial Aid

College participants in the September MBL courses pay regular University of Chicago tuition for Autumn quarter. Additionally, each course has a program fee, which covers three weeks' dorm-style housing and meals at MBL, as well as all supplies and excursions. The fee amount will be posted at a later date. Students are responsible for covering their own airfare and related travel expenses to MBL.

Since participants remain fully registered in the College, they retain financial aid eligibility for tuition while at MBL. Need-based scholarships are available for the program fee. You can apply for financial assistance on your MBL course application.


Application Process

The deadline for Autumn 2019 application will most likely be around the end of March. The exact date of the deadline will be posted when applications are live.

As part of the application, students may select both their first and second choice course options.

Register for a course online.


Course Descriptions

The below courses were offered in 2018, and may be different in 2019.

BIOS 27720. Microbiomes Across Environments. 100 Units.

Microbiomes Across Environments provides a comprehensive introduction to microbiome research, tools and approaches for investigation, and a lexicon for biological understanding of the role of microbial communities in environmental and host environments. Microbiome science is an emerging field that bridges disciplines, merging microbiology with genomics, ecosystem science, computation, biogeochemistry, modeling, medicine, surgery, immunology, molecular engineering, and many others, including architecture, social science, chemistry and even economics. In this course we will uncover the vast biochemical and metabolic diversity of the microbial world by examining life in ocean and marine systems, terrestrial ecosystems, and animal (including human) host-associated contexts. Students will develop or strengthen biological field/lab techniques, analyze and compare data prepared from student-collected samples, and will integrate fundamental knowledge, modeling, and theory as it pertains to microbiome research.

Instructor: TBD

BIOS 27721.  Observing Proteins in Action: How to Design and Build Your Own Instruments.  100 Units.

New insights into cell function are now possible using technologies that resolve single molecules.  However, as devices become more complicated, we are often faced with three questions: What is it that our instruments actually measure; how can we change the instrument to see a new behavior; and, how do we analyze the data to get the greatest insight?  We will learn how to answer these questions by designing, building, and using our own electrical and optical instruments, making measurements, and then analyzing the results.  Membrane proteins play an essential role in the behavior of all cells.  We will study membrane protein channels in synthetic membranes, host cells, and giant axons from squid collected in the waters surrounding the MBL. The movement of electrical charge produced by conformational changes will be correlated with both the current passing thru single channels and structural information obtained from light and electron microscopy. The course will proceed from simple measurements to student-designed projects.

Instructors: Left to right: A. Correa, E. Perozo, F. Bezanilla, E. Schwartz

Left to right: A. Correa, E. Perozo, F. Bezanilla, E. Schwartz


BIOS 27723.  Biodiversity and Genomics: Exploring the Marine Animal Diversity of Woods Hole Using Molecular Tools. 100 Units.

In this course, students will have the opportunity to explore the large diversity of marine animal species in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and its surroundings. We will combine fieldwork with genomic and bioinformatic approaches to study different aspects of the evolution, ecology, taxonomy, physiology, and biogeography of marine animals in this unique location. Students will integrate knowledge and analytical tools from different biological disciplines to develop short research projects. During the three weeks of the course, students will have access to the Marine Biological Laboratory's collection of living marine animals, participate in ongoing research projects at MBL, and contribute data that will advance our understanding of marine biodiversity.


Dr.  Oscar Pineda-Catalan stands in front of a banner for the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Collegiate Division. O. Pineda-Catalan


Articles on 2017 September Courses

Read about last year's program:

"Undergraduates learn in field, classroom during new MBL courses", UChicago News

"Three weeks by the Sea", College Admissions