Explorations in Genetics and Molecular Biology

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 25–July 13, 2018
II - July 17–August 3, 2018
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Frank Ciulla, Jeff Horenstein

One year of high school biology, including study of genetics, DNA, RNA, and proteins; one year of high school chemistry.

 “I learned and reviewed more content in these three weeks than I’d learn in school in a semester! It’s fast-paced but a good/controlled fast pace.” — Jingyi Dai

Course Description

This intensive course is designed for students who have a strong background in the natural sciences and are interested in modern biology and its applications to the fields of medicine and agriculture. Students explore how DNA works and how scientists can alter DNA for a variety of purposes. Topics include: RNA, DNA, protein synthesis, mutations, gene regulation, genetic engineering, cancer, heart disease, bacteria, viruses, and immunology. In the lab portion of the course, students learn some of the techniques used by modern biologists to study the natural world. Topics include eukaryotic and prokaryotic genetics, DNA extraction and restriction enzyme digest analysis, complementation, and “jumping” genes.  

In the lab section of the course, students are asked to complete in-class and homework assignments, analyze experimental data, write detailed lab reports, and make a group presentation. In the lecture portion students are given two tests, two quizzes, and a final exam. Students often work in groups to help one another understand the material.


Frank Ciulla

Frank Ciulla holds a B.A. with honors in chemistry from Oberlin College and an M.A. in molecular biology from Columbia University. He did research at Harvard Medical School, where he located and sequenced hormone genes, and Columbia University, where he studied gene regulation in bacteria and cancer-causing viruses. Ciulla has been a faculty member at The Collegiate School, Regis High School, and New York University. He has taught Pre-Engineering Physics and Advanced Science Topics at Columbia. Ciulla is the president and owner of Hudson Educational Services, where he tutors students in all levels of math and science, and he writes textbooks for online publication.

Jeff Horenstein

Jeff Horenstein holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in biology from Columbia University. For his doctoral dissertation he used chemical probes and structure/function studies to elucidate the detailed structural changes ion channels undergo as they move between the open, closed, and desensitized states. He is currently a teacher at Stuyvesant High School, a public high school in New York City specializing in science and math. He is also a Master Teacher Fellow at Math for America, an organization that promotes and supports rigorous math and science education in the public classroom. After finishing his postdoctoral work, but prior to becoming a teacher, Jeff worked for a few years as a Licensing Associate at the Office of Industrial Affairs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In this capacity he was involved with the patenting and licensing of intellectual property produced by the Center.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.