MBL September Courses: September 2 to 22, 2017

MBL in Woods Hole, Massachusetts



An Overview of the Program


The College is offering three courses in September of 2017 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.  

The courses will each meet 5-6 days/week, 8 hours per day, with lecture in the mornings and lab or field work in the afternoons. Students may only enroll in one course. Classes are small (12-15 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. 

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

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 27722: Marine Invertebrates of Woods Hole: Ecology, Diversity, and Function 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 2 through September 22, 2017. 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.


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 $2750, which 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. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available for the program fee. Students seeking financial assistance are encouraged to apply early.


Application Process

Because of the small course sizes, the MBL program will be admissions-based. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so we encourage students to apply early.
The deadline for Autumn 2017 application is 5:00pm CST on April 15, 2017.

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

Register for a course online.


Course Descriptions

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.



Jack GilbertJ. GilbertD. Mark WelchD. Mark Welch

Terms Offered: September 2017

Prerequisites: None


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.

Instructor(s): Left to right: A. Correa, E. Perozo, F. Bezanilla, E. Schwartz

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

Terms Offered: September 2017

Prerequisites: None


BIOS 27722. Marine Invertebrates of Woods Hole: Ecology, Diversity, and Function. 100 units

Over 90% of the macroscopic species in the marine biosphere are “invertebrates” — metazoans other than fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, or mammals. This course takes advantage of the marine biota of the Woods Hole region to illustrate the principles of invertebrate organization, ecology, and biodiversity with particular emphasis on comparative study of form and function (particularly biomechanical) in both phylogenetic and ecological contexts. Biodiversity is a topical subject in biology, in part because of the accelerating erosion of biodiversity as a result of increasing human pressures and global change, in part because the revolution in phylogenomics over the past fifteen years has allowed the study of biodiversity to be placed in a robust evolutionary context. Having a working knowledge of the diversity of life is fundamental to the study of any subject in biology. Students will study living representatives of most major groups of marine metazoans, both in the laboratory and through fieldwork in the diverse marine habitats surrounding Woods Hole, a particularly appropriate location for such a course given the wealth of local diversity and accumulated knowledge of the local fauna built over 125 years of biological investigation at the Marine Biological Laboratory.


Michael LaBarberaM. LaBarbera

Terms Offered: September 2017

Prerequisites: None