DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP)

Overview of UBRP

 The Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP), run by the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, is a science education initiative to engage New York City high school students in studying biodiversity using DNA technology. Students are first required to complete two mandatory workshops: Conservation Genetics and DNA Barcoding and Bioinformatics, which are 24 hours of class time each.  UBRP workshops are offered throughout the year at various locations around NYC.  Please check the UBRP website for updated course information. 

From the students participating in these workshops, 40 will have the opportunity to continue in the UBRP.  Teams of two students will be paired with scientist mentors, and will then participate in all phases of the research process, beginning with project design and culminating in poster and oral presentations at a research symposium.  Students who present their research at the Final Symposium will each receive a $500 stipend.

The UBRP enables students to gain knowledge, confidence, and interest in science while studying the interaction between biodiversity and human activity.

UBRP Program Announcements

  • Microbes and Humans: The Science of Living Together

    Congrats to Urban Barcode Research Program's Dr. Christine Marizzi who spoke on BBC World Service's The Forum Podcast about microbes and youth-led science research in the UBRP program.

    Another fun fact is that Dr. Marizzi collaborated with the New Museum and Citizen Scientists from Genspace to create, "The NYC Biome MAP", BioArt that won second prize at the first American Society for Microbiology Agar Art contest last year. 

    Listen to the podcast and check out the BioArt here: http://bbc.in/2959ett.

    Urban Barcode Research Program
  • Congrats to our 2016 scholars!

    Congrats to our scholars who presented their incredible genetic research at the Student Symposium on June 3rd! 

    Urban Barcode Research Program


Eligible applicants for this program must meet all these criteria:

  • Primarily for NYC high school students in grades 10-12
    • Exceptions can be made for very advanced 9th grade students who have successfully completed the workshops
  • Students complete the two mandatory courses

Application Instructions

Students must register for the courses and upon completion of both courses will be informed of next steps. Students may register for the courses here

Mandatory Coursework

Students are first required to take two mandatory courses. Students are welcome to register and take both courses concurrently. 

Conservation Genetics

Conservation genetics is the field that seeks to use DNA to study and protect the living world and its biodiversity.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the leading international conservation body, recognizes the crucial need to conserve genetic diversity as one of the three fundamental levels of biodiversity.

The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the different methods that conservation geneticists use to preserve biodiversity.  This includes how DNA sequencing and fingerprinting techniques can be used to determine species distribution patterns, to identify products made from endangered animals, and to propagate endangered species in captivity. The students then learn how scientists and governments can use this information to allocate limited conservation dollars where they are most needed. By the end of the course, students will write grant proposals for their own conservation projects, which they will then present to the class.

DNA Barcoding

Have you ever wanted to know more about the biological organisms that surround you? In this course, we will explore a cutting edge methodology that has helped scientists all over the world identify and study biodiversity: DNA Barcoding. This scientific methodology can be applied to explore and answer a great diversity of questions: Does the leather used to make this purse, belt, or wallet come from an endangered, illegally harvested species? Does the bug I found in my room cause health problems? Are the plants growing in my backyard native or invasive species? Students in this course will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on labs to learn the basics of DNA barcoding. They will also learn basic concepts in ecology, biodiversity, and conservation biology.

Program Details

Once students are selected to continue in the program after completing the mandatory coursework:

  • Mentors and students define a work schedule to accomplish a minimum of 55 hours of research during the summer and academic year – and complete their project in time for presentation at a symposium in early spring.
  • Mentors help students plan, develop and conclude a DNA barcoding project. Key components of the research cycle includes writing a research proposal, fieldwork and/or sample collection, DNA isolation, amplification of DNA barcoding regions, and analysis of DNA sequences.
  • Project staff coordinate with teams and mentors to ensure that projects are rigorous and appropriately scaled to achieve results during the time allotted.
  • Mentors directly impact the science education and career trajectory of urban high school students.
  • Students who present their research at the Research Symposium each receive a $500 stipend.

Additional Information






For more information, please contact Dr. Christine Marizzi at cmarizzi@cshl.edu