Interested in gaining hands-on scientific experience and contributing to valuable ongoing research? Join MBHI this summer for a unique opportunity to learn about DNA Barcoding! MBHI is partnering with the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center on an exciting nationwide community science project, the Citizen DNA Barcode Network. The project aims to engage community members in the science of DNA barcoding, while identifying and mapping insect species throughout the United States.

Program Overview

The citizen DNA Barcode Network is a collaborative effort between MBHI, the DNALC and multiple organizations across the country. Participants will submit their findings to a collective database that will help scientists map insect species across the US. Additionally, participants will publish their DNA barcode sequences to GenBank; in some cases, participants may be the first to publish novel sequences.

The program consists of 4 parts: 1 day in the field, 2 days in the lab, and 1 day meeting virtually to discuss results. Adults with children are welcome. Suggested age is 13 and up due to more complex material on lab days. Registrants 15 and under must be accompanied by a participating adult. 

Cost is $100 per participant. Thanks to foundation support, we are able to keep the cost of this unique and immersive program relatively low and accessible to everyone.

By the end of the project, participants will:

Community science is an effective way to engage amateur scientists in the scientific method, increase science literacy within the community, and foster an appreciation and understanding of local ecosystems. Participants are actively engaged in every step of the process: collection, identification, DNA extraction, PCR, Gel electrophoresis, and DNA analysis.

DNA barcoding is a method of identifying species based on a region of their genome. Each living organism has a unique genome that can be used to identify the organism the same way a UPC code is used to identify a product at a grocery store. 

There are many advantages to using DNA barcoding as opposed to classical taxonomy; those who are not trained in classic taxonomy are able to do it, species can be identified faster, and specimens do not need to be preserved in perfect condition or for long periods of time. Building maps based on DNA barcodes is an easier practice than professional identification; it lessens the chance for human error and everyone can do it!

To register or for any questions, please reach out to Brenna at