2025 SBD Course Offerings

Wholemount staining of a growing Nematostella (Credit Karen Echeverri), Stumpy Cuttlefish (Tom Kleindinst), California Two-Spot Octopus (Kleindinst)
Wholemount staining of a growing Nematostella (Credit Karen Echeverri), Stumpy Cuttlefish (Tom Kleindinst), California Two-Spot Octopus (Kleindinst)

The SBD semester is organized as a series of 4 three-week modules; students chose a single course in each module.  These courses are inspired by the MBL’s world-renown summer Advanced Research Training Courses and are an intense immersion focusing on experiential learning through laboratory research. 

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New Course Offerings Coming Soon!

Asynchronous / Online
Feb 24 - Feb 28

Pre-Program Preparation

Module 1
Mar 3 - Mar 21

Introduction to Parasitology

Module 2
Mar 24 - Apr 16

Imaging for Biological Research
Stem Cells & Regeneration

Module 3
Apr 17 - May 9

Embryology - New Course - Syllabi Coming Soon
Fundamentals of Synapse

Module 4
May 12 - May 30

Dynamic Camouflage

Weekly Seminar

Art Course: On Images
A History of Cell and Molecular Biology


Module 1

Parasitology: Kate Rawlinson

This course introduces the diversity of parasitic Protozoa and Metazoa, and explores the morphology, genomics, developmental life cycle, pathology, immunology, epidemiology, and treatment and control of the major parasite groups. The focus will be on aquatic species, including those that cause pathology in humans and other mammals. The course will involve lectures, fieldwork and lab experiments including designing and carrying out an independent research project.


Module 2 (Choose 1 of 3):

Stem Cells and Regeneration: From Aquatic Research Organisms to Mammals: Karen Echeverri

This course will explore contemporary stem cell biology and regeneration with emphasis on molecular mechanisms and applications, and will cover the history of stem cell discoveries through the latest advances, including genome-wide profiling, and targeted gene editing.  A focus of the course will be around how discoveries in aquatic research organisms have driven the progress in regeneration biology.


Imaging for Biological Research: Louis Kerr and Carsten Wolff

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of imaging, quickly advancing to cutting edge advances in the field.  The course will focus on use state-of-the art microscopes, with students designing and executing an original research project including data acquisition and analysis using cutting-edge image analysis software.


Module 3 (Choose 1 of 2):

Fundamentals of Synapses: Jennifer Morgan and Joshua Rosenthal

In this course, students will learn about the fundamentals of synapses, from molecular analysis to structure and function. Marine and aquatic models have historically provided a unique opportunity to investigate synaptic function due to the large size of their neurons, including the synaptic connections. Today, these synapse models are used to study basic principles of neuron-to-neuron communication (synaptic transmission), as well as disease mechanisms. 



Coming Soon!


Module 4 (Choose 1 of 2):

Dynamic Camouflage: Behavior, Visual Perception and Neural Skin Patterning in Cephalopods: Roger Hanlon

This course takes an integrative approach to understanding a neurally controlled system of dynamic defense against visual predators. Camouflage is a widespread form of defense throughout the animal kingdom in every known habitat - land or sea. In the oceans, cephalopods (cuttlefish, octopus, squid) have evolved a sophisticated sensorimotor system called Rapid Adaptive Coloration, which can instantaneously change their total body appearance within a fraction of a second to range from highly camouflaged to startlingly conspicuous for a wide range of behaviors. 


Biodiversity: Exploring the Marine Diversity of Woods Hole Using Molecular Tools: Andrew Gillis

This course presents an overview of the diversity of living organisms, including archaea, bacteria, single-celled eukaryotes, fungi, plants, and animals, with an emphasis on their evolutionary histories, relationships, and the biological and evolutionary implications of the characteristic features of each group. We will explore how these different lineages have evolved remarkable solutions to challenges in locomotion, metabolism, and life in extreme environments.


Weekly Seminar:

Seminar: A History of Cell Molecular Biology

This course will trace the parallel histories of cell and molecular biology, focusing particularly on the 20th century. Through discussion, we will explore continuities and discontinuities between these fields and their precursors. In addition, we will strive to not only develop definitions of cell and molecular biology that are based upon their practices and explanatory strategies, but also to determine to what extent these practices and strategies overlap. Finally, we will examine the relevance of these definitions to current developments in biology. This seminar is not designed to be comprehensive, but rather to provide an overall framework for thinking about the historical development of and conceptual tensions between cell and molecular biology.


Art Course: On Images

Using a wide variety of traditional and experimental mediums, this foundational class is a hands on investigation of what an image can do and be. Readings from a range of fields, including poetry, dance, and anthropology will inform our discussions and studio practice over this 7 week course held at the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, MA. Many classes will take place at least partially outdoors, where we will forage for pigments, discuss observational methodologies, and gain experience with plein air image making. Student driven assignments will encourage interdisciplinary thinking and research in visual meaning making. Field trips to nearby natural resources and historic sites will ground the class in local ecosystems and histories, while slide lectures will help contextualize our conversations within the rich global understandings of visual language.