Microbial Diversity

Course Information

Course Date: July 8 – August 22, 2018

Deadline: February 1, 2018 | Apply here

2018 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.

2018 Course Faculty & Lecturers

Bose, Arpita, Washington University
Cavenaugh, Colleen, Harvard University
Cordero, Otto, MIT
Costa, Kyle, U of Minnesota
Crosson, Sean, U of Chicago
Dawson, Scott, UC-Davis
Degnan, Patrick, UC-Irvine
del la Torre, Jose, San Francisco State Univ
Dubilier, Nicole, Max Plank Institute
Edgecomb, Ginny, WHOI
Eren, A. Murat, U of Chicago
Fiebig, Aretha, U of Chicago
Gladfelter, Amy, UNC-Chapel Hill
Hanselmann, Kurt, Swiss Fed Institute of Technology Zurich
Hogan, Deborah, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Huber, Julie, WHOI
Katz, Laura, Smith College
Kolter, Roberto, Harvard University
Lennon, Jay, Indiana U
McMahon, Trina, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Metcalf, William, U of Illinois
Pfeiffer, Julie, UT-Southwestern
Phillips, Rob, Cal Tech
Schmid, Amy, Duke U
Sogin, Mitch, MBL
Seed, Kimberley, UC-Berkeley
Shank, Beth, UNC-Chapel Hill
Sullivan, Matt, The Ohio State U
Turner, Paul, Yale
Whitaker, Rachel, U of Illinois
Whiteson, Katrine, UC-Irvine
Zeigler, Lisa, J. Craig Venter Institute

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.