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. The program will run from August 30 - September 17, 2021.  Students may be asked to arrive up to one week early in order to quarantine at MBL prior to the start of the courses.  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

Due to the cancellation of the program in 2020 as well as space limitations at MBL due to social distancing, there are limited spots available for 2021.  You may sign up for the waitlist below.  You will be notified with a decision during or prior to April 2021.  

Sign up for the waitlist here!



BIOS 27725. Biogeography and Species Distribution. 100 Units.

  • 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.

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.