The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Genetic Engineering: Investigating Genes, Genomes, and GMOs

Date: July 21 - August 3, 2019

What is genetic engineering, and how does it work? What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Is it safe to eat them? How do DNA forensic techniques work? What can genetic testing tell us? And what ethical issues are raised by this new frontier in science? We invite you to join us for a two-week program exploring these topics!

In our program, we will investigate the analysis and manipulation of DNA, while focusing on current and emerging applications in this rapidly advancing field. Since DNA is the genetic material that unites bacteria, plants, and people, our program aims to increase participants’ understanding of ideas and tools used in modern biotechnology. At the same time, we will discuss the pros and cons of elucidating – and sometimes even editing – an organism’s DNA. Through a combination of hands-on activities, discussions, and laboratory experiments, we will investigate the structure of DNA, techniques for DNA sequencing and engineering, and the transformation of genetic material into host organisms to modify their biology.

Possible projects include transforming a jellyfish gene into bacteria, testing grocery store foods for the presence of transgenes, generating DNA fingerprints, and learning what it means to sequence a genome. Participants will have the opportunity to present their findings in teams at the end of each week. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to explore the science behind the news headlines!

Prior completion of high school biology or equivalent experience is strongly recommended for all applicants. Students with some prior exposure to cell biology are more likely to find the program rewarding.

Apply Now

Admissions are rolling.


Ludmila Tyler

Senior Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Becky Miller

Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology