MBL September Courses

In September 2021, the College is 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 morning lectures with afternoon labs and fieldwork. Each student can only enroll in one course.

Students register for a September MBL course as part of their Autumn quarter course load, and each course carries 100 units of credit. Exact program dates will be announced in January 2021.  Classes will be held on Labor Day. With a maximum of 15 students each, classes are small and offer an interactive teaching environment where instructors spend considerable time with each student.

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

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 of $2,250 that covers three weeks' dorm-style housing and meals at MBL, as well as all supplies and excursions. 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 to assist with the program fee.

Application Process

Applications are closed for September 2020.  Applications for September 2021 will open in January 2021.  


BIOS 27720. Microbiomes Across Environments. 100 Units.

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

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

HIPS 15100/HIST 14904. Visualization and Biology: Science, Culture, and Representation. 100 Units.

  • Instructor: Michael Paul Rossi
  • Course description: How do scientific images get made? This deceptively simple question lies at the heart of this course. Over three weeks at the MBL, we will examine the techniques, technologies, philosophies and histories of scientific image making, with a particular focus on marine biology. Rather than simply reading theories of visualization and representation, students will immerse themselves in the making of images themselves. Students will perform hands-on work with historical and contemporary theories and techniques of microscopy, taxonomy, anatomy, and specimen collecting. They will also examine the theoretical, philosophical, and ethical underpinnings of those practices. Through a combination of ethnographic (participant observation) and historical (archival) work, students will develop rich accounts of scientific visualization - from matters of objectivity and instrumentation, to problems of vision and the limits of (human) senses, to questions of aesthetics, abstraction, and representation. During the course, students will have the opportunity to work with Marine Biological Laboratory faculty, have access to laboratory and archives, and will develop new data and novel accounts of the social, cultural, and technical creation of scientific images.