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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.


City Nature Challenge

We’re thrilled to be part of the annual City Nature Challenge. Help us explore and catalog wildlife right here in Charm City!
CNC is a platform that brings together nature enthusiasts from around the globe. It provides a unique opportunity to bring out the curious scientist in you and explore the biodiversity in your backyard.

Have you ever wondered-

What is that peculiar bug chilling out on my plant called? I planted tomatoes, but not this other plant. What is that? A colorful bird loves to stop by my bird feeder. I wonder what my new friend’s name is? This little animal visited my backyard searching for food. Is that a, hmmmm?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, here’s your chance to find some answers. Even cooler, contribute to science while doing that. Next time get your cameras out, CLICK a picture & take part in the challenge. It’s an excellent way to get your kids involved in the science while having fun ! The data collected from the challenge helps scientists around the globe to tabulate biodiversity found across the globe and make informed decisions to conserve the ever-evolving flora and fauna.

So get ready to….

I’m in! How do I participate?


Download the iNaturalist app

Create a login

Watch this video to learn to make good observations with the app.


Find and photograph wildlife !

It can be plant, animal, fungi or any evidence of life such as tracks or shell.

Upload your pictures

Upload pics to iNaturalist app between April 24th and 27th! Add as many details as possible about where you took the picture, and help to identify the species!


Want more information?

Visit Baltimore’s 2020 City Nature Challenge page at the National Aquarium. And watch this video on the international city challenge!  

Molecular Biology Bootcamp: Building a Kill Switch in Bacteria

This class taught the fundamental techniques of molecular biology (PCR, restriction digest, ligation, and transformation) by cloning a regulated version of the holin gene which can then be activated to destroy bacteria.

Check out more information about the course at this link!


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.