MBL September Courses

MBL September 2024 Applications are OPEN NOW


In September 2024, the College will be offering four courses at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Each course will be taught by University of Chicago and MBL faculty.  

These intensive, three-week long courses meet for up to eight hours per day for 5–6 days per week, combining lectures with immersive labs and fieldwork. Each student can only enroll in one course.

Program Information

The MBL September Program is part of the September Term.

    The program will run from August 26 - September 13, 2024.  

    Classes will be held on Labor Day (Monday, September 2).

    The schedule ensures that students have ample time to return to campus for Autumn Quarter.

    Students register for a September MBL course as part of the Summer Quarter, and each course carries 100 units of credit. 

    • Please note that HIPS 18507 does not count for BIOS credit

    With a maximum of 15 students each, classes are small and offer an interactive teaching environment where instructors spend considerable time with each student.


    College participants in the September MBL courses are responsible for:

    • $2,250 Program Fee which covers three weeks' dorm-style housing and meals at MBL, as well as all course supplies and excursions. 
    • $4,635 Summer Quarter Tuition for one 100-unit course.

    Students are responsible for covering their own airfare and related travel expenses to and from MBL.

    Scholarships and Financial Aid

    Need-based aid is available for the MBL September Program; students who receive such aid during the academic year are automatically reviewed for Summer financial aid eligibility.

    Learn more about Summer scholarships and financial aid HERE


    Bills for the MBL September Program will be sent to students in June, and payment in full will be due in late July.

    Applications for the 2024 September Program are currently OPEN


    Application Priority Deadline: March 4, 2024

    We are now into rolling admissions - STILL ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

    Decisions will go out on or before: March 20, 2024

    There are no pre-requisites for the September courses at MBL.  Both STEM majors and non-majors are welcome in these classes.  The BIOS courses can count either towards the general education requirement in Biology OR as an upper-level elective.  The HIPS course will satisfy one credit in the Science, Culture, and Society Civilization Sequence.


Course Descriptions

Each course is worth 100 units of credit.

    Instructors: David Mark Welch, Blair Paul

    Course Description:  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: O. Pineda-Catalan

    Course Description:  In this course, student 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. Student will integrate knowledge and analytical tools from different biological disciplines to develop short research projects. During the three weeks of the course, student 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.

    Instructor: Eric Larsen

    Course Description:  Students will explore various aspects of the biota of the region surrounding the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA. The focus of the course will be to examine various patterns in the distribution and abundance of the flora/fauna in the islands and associated mainland habitats over the course of 3 weeks through a combination of in class lectures and laboratory sessions, combined with field studies. Penikese Island will receive special focus for extensive inventory of the biota, to update previous contributions to the flora of the island and begin an inventory of mammals, birds, and invertebrates. Similar surveys will be made of nearby mainland habitats for biogeographic comparisons between island and mainland patterns of abundance.

    Read about the 2021 Biogeography course here!

    Instructor: Michael Paul Rossi

    Course description: This is a three-week intensive history course in the history of the life sciences, taught on-site at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. This course will satisfy one credit in the Science, Culture, and Society Civilization Sequence. In this course, students will not only learn about crucial turning points in natural history, biology, and medicine between the 1800s and the present; they will also visit key locations in those transformations, will conduct historical research in archives and using historical instruments, and will gain experience in both modern and historical techniques in biology, ecology, and the life sciences. Topics and activities include a visit to Penikese Island, location of the first natural history school in the United States; the history of whales, whaling, and natural science; salt marsh ecology and contemporary genomics; and the conjoined histories of squids and neuroscience - among other topics. 

    Read about a previous MBL course taught by Dr. Rossi here!

    Instructor: Alexandra Worden

    Course Description: Students will study coastal marine habitats, connectivity to ocean and climate, dynamics of microbial community structure, and marine conservation alongside gaining experience on laboratory microbiome science and environmental field work. Students will gain firsthand experience with the types of microbes that that influence climate and that impact health through laboratory experiments on culturing and analyzing microbes in ‘pristine’ and highly impacted coastal ecosystems. Methods to be learned include plating, epifluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, DNA extraction, and sequencing.

    Guest Instructors:
    Dr. Cinda Scott
    Director for the Center for Field Studies, Panama

    Prof. Alejandra Ortiz
    Colby College