Microbial Diversity

Course Information

Course Date: July 8 – August 22, 2018

Deadline: February 1, 2018 | Apply here

2017 Lecture Schedule

Course Website

Directors: George O’Toole, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth; and Rachel Whitaker, University of Illinois

Course Description

Launched in 1971 by Holger Jannasch, the Microbial Diversity summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory has trained generations of scientists from diverse backgrounds. The course is an intense immersion experience for 20 students that lasts 6.5 weeks. The goal of the course is to teach professors, postdocs and advanced graduate students how to discover, cultivate, and isolate diverse microorganisms catalyzing a breadth of chemical transformations, as well as how to perform molecular and computational analyses relevant to their study. While microbial isolation techniques form the essential core of the course, each new set of directors brings an additional focus that reflects their interests/expertise. We have introduced basic genetic methods to the course for the first time to enable students to study how microbes catalyze interesting reactions and exhibit interesting behaviors. In addition, we emphasize state-of-the-art imaging techniques and training in quantitative microscopy to study microbial cell biology and single-cell gene expression. Genetically-tractable strains isolated in the course are sequenced by Pacific Biosystems, and students learn how to annotate and analyze their genomes. Given the wealth of DNA, RNA and protein sequences now available from isolated microbes and environmental samples, these tools are important for students to master so they may understand what these sequences mean and in which context they are expressed—be it in the marine environment, soils, or plant and animal hosts. We also emphasize quantitative approaches to microbial diversity, including teaching students how to describe the energetic potential of diverse metabolisms. A dedicated team of resident course instructors as well as guest-lecturers participate in the course every summer, allowing students to be exposed to exciting current research. The opportunity to interact one-on-one with these individuals is a tremendous opportunity, often leading to future collaborations.

2017 Course Faculty & Lecturers

Balskus, Emily, Harvard University
Bose, Arpita, Washington University – St. Louis
Brown,C. Titus, Univeristy of California – Davis
Butler, Alison, University of California – Santa Barbara
Cavanaugh, Colleen, Harvard University
Coates, John, University of California – Berkeley
Cordero, Otto, MIT
Crosson, Sean, University of Chicago
Dawson,Scott, University of California – Davis
Dawson, Scott, University of California – Davis
Fiebig, Aretha, University of Chicago
Garner, Ethan, Harvard University
Girguis, Peter, Harvard University
Goffredi, Shana, Occidental College
Hanselmann,Kurt, Swiss Fed Institute of Technology Zurich
Huber, Julie, WHOI
King, Nicole, University of California – Berkeley
Kolter, Roberto, Harvard University
Leadbetter,Jared, California Institute of Technology
McCutcheon, John, University of Montana – Missoula
Metcalf, William, University of Illinois – UIUC
Newman,Dianne, California Institute of Technology
Orphan, Victoria, Caltech
O’Toole,George, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Ottesen, Elizabeth, University of Georgia – Athens
Pohlschroder, Mechthild, University of Pennsylvania
Polz, Martin, MIT
Saito, Mak, WHOI
Schink, Bernhard, University of Konstanz
Shikuma, Nicholas, San Diego State University
Taga, Michi, University of California – Berkeley
Teal,Tracy , Univeristy of California – Davis
Tender, Leonard, Naval Research Laboratory
Vollmer, Amy, Swarthmore College
Walker, Graham, MIT
Welander, Paula, Stanford University
Ziebis, Wiebke, University of Southern California

Course Support

This course is supported in part by grants from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation, NASA, Promega, and the Agouron Institute.