Marine Ecological Genomics

Course Dates

July 15, 2019 to July 29, 2019


Two semesters of undergraduate biology. Previous coursework in genetics or bioinformatics (or permission of the instructor) is recommended.

Course Description

Marine Ecological Genomics scholarships are available for students in 2019! See the Financial Support & Scholarships page for details.

image of a phylogenetic tree diagram
photo of pcr gel for shoals samples

This course combines an introduction to the field-based and analytical components of marine ecological genomics research. Fieldwork will focus on sampling of the invertebrate and bacterial communities within the intertidal zone of Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine. An extensive introduction to common and emerging genomics analytical techniques will include: next generation sequence analysis, phylogenomics, differential gene expression and population genomics.

In this course, students will:

  • Understand the application of genetic variation within and between species and how it can be used to better understand ecological and evolutionary processes;
  • Learn modern genomics technologies and data analysis techniques;
  • Develop a hypothesis and experimental design that incorporates genomics approaches.

Students will contribute to the Earth Microbiome Project, a long-term, collaborative ecological research program focused on characterizing the Earth’s microbial communities across a wide range of ecosystems. Students will become proficient in the R statistical programming environment and will conduct independent research using data from Appledore Island.

Interested in a student's perspective on genomics research at SML? Sarah Samorodinsky (Cornell '18) was an undergraduate research intern working with Dr. David Plachetzki on Appledore Island in summer 2016. Sarah chronicled her intership in a blog: Ecological Genomics @ Shoals Marine Lab. Check it out!

Marine Genomics is one of the most fulfilling classes that I have ever taken.  Students attempted to solve real scientific questions as a method of learning.  The class covers information from genetics to phylogeny to computer programming in order to find the best tools for practical genomics research and education.  The location of Shoals Marine Lab allowed the class to be completely immersive and provided a great balance to the intensity in the classroom. - Caleb Carmichael (SML '18, Cornell '19)


Dr. David Plachetzki:

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire

photo of Dr. David Plachetzki

Dr. Plachetzki's research focus revolves around questions like: How does evolution proceed from common starting points and go on to generate the amazing display of biodiversity we see today? The evolutionary origins of novel and complex forms has puzzled biologists since before Darwin’s time and persists as one of the central questions in evolutionary biology. Research in the Plachetzki Lab at UNH sheds light on this question by using the origins and evolution of the animal sensory systems as a model. Dr. Plachetzki's approach integrates genomic, wet lab and behavioral data using phylogenetic methods. He is most interested in the sensory systems of Cnidaria, which are the evolutionary sister to bilaterians, and in those of other taxa that occupy key positions in the animal tree of life.

Dr. Sabrina Pankey:

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire

Dr. Sabrina Pankey is a postdoctoral researcher at UNH with an interest in the evolutionary drivers and consequences of symbiotic interactions between microbes and marine invertebrate hosts. She received her PhD in Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara by studying the transcriptomic basis of convergently evolved partnerships between squid and bioluminescent bacteria. Her work continues to examine the genomic and phylogenetic signatures of symbioses in the evolution of sponges and corals.



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 4720 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 750 (4 Credits)