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Past Courses

BUGGS offers numerous courses where the public can engage directly with hands-on biotechnology activities. Courses involve short lectures interspersed with hands-on lab experiments.


Hunting for Genes: How Does a Genome-Wide Association Study Work?

On the news, we often hear that certain genes have been linked to different traits, ranging from height, to body-mass-index, to heart disease risk. Curious about how these associations are discovered?

In this course, we learned all about the science behind the studies. We learned about basic genetics and genomics and even some statistics. Thanks so much to Stephanie Yang for a fantastic class!

Learn more and check out the recordings at this link!


Seeing Learning and Memory through the Microscope

In this online class led by Dr. Elena Lopez-Ortega, we learned about the brain and memory, including the structure of neurons, how information is encoded at synapses, important proteins that play a role in learning and memory , and cognitive diseases that may result when these proteins are disrupted. Along with all of that fascinating information, we learned about light microscopy, confocal, and 2-photon microscopy and tried our hands at analyzing and manipulating beautiful images of the brain!

Read more about the course and watch the recording!


Glow Bugs!

It’s glow time! Let’s learn about bioluminescence by working with a glowing bacteria. These brilliant “bugs” glow in response to oxygen or movement to create a mesmerizing glow effect. In this hands-on workshop we will get a chance to build and create gadgets (e.g. a tube that pushes oxygen through the bacterial culture with a push of a button) to show off this incredible property! This course is appropriate for students in middle school and up.


CRISPR Gene Editing

Did you miss our big 4-week course on CRISPR in August? No worries, we’re diving back into the world of gene editing with a 1-day seminar and lab. We’ll talk with a genetic counselor about the use of CRISPR gene editing technology in the treatment of disease-which diseases does it work best for? Which genetic disease communities are most excited about the prospects? Then we’ll move into the lab to learn how to use CRISPR to edit DNA sequences to our exact specifications. Class will be appropriate for adults, and advanced high school students.


Influenza: Fact and Fiction

Influenza (the flu) causes misery every season. Why haven’t we conquered it yet? Why is it so hard to make a vaccine? How and why is the virus constantly changing? In this class, we’ll learn all about the flu and why it’s so hard to combat by focusing on the proteins of the flu virus and our immune response. We’ll learn how to detect flu proteins in the lab using the ELISA technique. Class will be appropriate for adults, and advanced high school


Resilient DNA: To what extent can our genetics determine who we are?

Are your genes making you stressed? In this class participants will check themselves for a variant in the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) associated with stress resiliency to explore the relationship between genes, environment, and personality traits. Class will be appropriate for adults, and advanced high school students.


To Start Up or Not to Start Up? First Step: Customer Discovery

The final installment of our entrepreneur series in partnership with Harbor Launch of IMET!
Tom Starr of Chesapeake Visions helps researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors with market research, customer discovery, commercialization planning, and Go-to-Market strategy. This will be an interactive workshop, led by Tom
Starr, Founder & Principal at Chesapeake Visions, consisting of an informational briefing on market research & customer discovery and why its vital to the success of any new venture, discussion of best practices, and short
breakout sessions for attendees to apply concepts learned to their own ideas.


Lab Skills Nights! – RNA detection with Real time PCR

To help work around busy schedules, two nights a month we will offer a hands-on learning experience of a specific technique.In the month of October, we will be teaching RNA detection by real-time PCR! Join us as we learn how to analyze gene expression. We’ll take an RNA sample and perform reverse transcription to create a DNA copy and then amplify that DNA to precisely measure gene expression level.


Food Forensics

You may be curious about the fish you purchase at your grocery store or local market. Is it really what they say it is? Test it for yourself in our lab and learn the process of DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and DNA barcoding and sequencing! The class will be appropriate for adults, and advanced high school students.


Build-a-Gene: A course covering cutting-edge topics in gene manipulation.

No previous lab experience necessary-while the concepts are extraordinary, this course is appropriate for those with no lab experience. Learn how to build genes from scratch, how to change and mutate DNA, work with the revolutionary CRISPR technology that is taking the research world by storm! The class will be appropriate for adults, and advanced high school students.

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