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Global Environmental Microbiology (GEM)- Intensive Introductory Aquatic Microbiology Course

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an IBP member program

Academic Level:
For most summer research programs, this is your upcoming status as of the fall. Always check with the individual program's website for details.

Undergraduates - First Year
Undergraduates - Sophomore
Undergraduates - Junior

Note: this opportunity encourages applications from community college students.

You are mainly microbes - much like Earth?s biodiversity. Microbes are everywhere (in our guts, in the deep seafloor, and everywhere in between) and we are still learning about who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

The Global Environmental Microbiology (GEM) course is an introductory, aquatic microbiology course for early career undergraduates who are contemplating a career in scientific research. Taught by Drs. John Heidelberg and Eric Webb of the University of Southern California, the course will be three weeks in length.

Our plan is to host this course in-person at the University of Southern California (University Park Campus) and on Santa Catalina Island. However, if we cannot host the course in-person, we will offer a highly modified version of the course online. We hope to know in mid-spring if it will be possible to hold the program in-person. On the application form, you will have the opportunity to let us know if you would like to be considered for the online course if we need to switch to that plan.

GEM - in-person The course combines classroom learning with hands-on activities. Students attend lectures and discussions about aquatic microbiology, learn to use laboratory equipment and how to collect samples from the environment, practice their presentation skills, collaborate with fellow classmates, and talk to graduate students and professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to explore career options.

Students will spend the first few days of the course at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles, CA and the remaining time at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Santa Catalina Island. Although activities are scheduled every day of the three-week program, the course schedule includes opportunities to hike, swim, snorkel, kayak, play volleyball, etc.

Course expenses, travel, room, and board are paid for by C-DEBI, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Summer OnLine Interactive/Discussion Global Environmental Microbiology (SOLID-GEM) ? online, partly synchronous This online course will include some parts of the GEM program, but we would not be able to work on lab bench or fieldwork skills. This version of the course includes lectures and discussions about aquatic microbiology, oceanography, and molecular biology as well as computer-based labs to help develop skills working with data. We will host a variety of researchers to talk about their own lab and fieldwork. Students will be able to practice creating and giving individual and group science presentations in a supportive setting. Another important part of the course is helping you meet and talk to graduate students and professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to explore career options. There will be about 3 hours of live, synchronous sessions through Zoom each weekday with some work to do on your own.

Participating Institution(s):
(Click an institution to see all programs it hosts)
University of Southern California (Lead)

Program Materials:
 • Program Website 

This Program can be Described by:
Academic Disciplines:
Bioinformatics & Genomics
Geological Sciences
Marine Sciences & Oceanography

Data Analysis
Microbial Habitats
Microbial Oceanography
Ocean Biogeochemistry
Subseafloor Biosphere

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This program is funded by:
National Science Foundation (NSF)

Page last updated 7/2/2021
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