New Class! Phylogenetics: The Science of Organizing the Biological World

Historically, evolutionary relationships were determined by what an organism looks like, or its phenotype. With modern DNA analysis technology we are able to classify relationships based on genes, or genotype. How can we use Phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary classification systems, to learn about plants, animals and microbes in the world around us? In this workshop, we will learn about evolutionary history by looking at characteristics of organisms from today and how the environment shapes everything around us.

Join us and Dr. Joshua Schraiber, a computational biologist working to unravel the basis of functional genomic evolution in yeast and humans through a combination of mathematical modeling, big data analysis and data generation!

Register for this exciting new class at this link!

Back to school with HiveBio’s Science Classes

It’s that time of year again! Time for class but science education is not just for kids! Learn about the basics of neurobiology and brain science in Intro to Neurobiology, Sunday September 28th. Co-founder Bergen McMurray and Dr. Lawrence Own will lead students through the anatomy and physiology of a sheep brain during a hands-on dissection!

Angela Mele, a Masters student at UW, will host HiveBio’s first Scientific Illustration workshop on Saturday October 11th. Learn both the technical and artistic sides of how to illustrate science accurately and beautifully. View samples of her work at

See our Upcoming Class Schedule to read course descriptions and learn about our past sessions. Registration is also available on our Class Registration page.

A Sweet Way to Learn Molecular Biology

On Saturday March 29th Mariola Kulawiec and Lawrence Own led HiveBio’s first Electrophoresis class. Four eager students learned about gel electrophoresis using the artificial colors in candies as a bright (and sticky) example of how this technique can be used in chemistry and biology.

Lawrence with gel tray

Lawrence kicked things off with a brief presentation on the theory behind gel electrophoresis and how it’s used to test properties of DNA, RNA and proteins in biological experiments. He then explained to participants what they will be doing in the lab. Step one: use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to extract the coloring agents from various candies. Step two: Separate the colors using gel electrophoresis!

Experimental setup

Class in sessionOur students first had to design their experiment. There were many candies to choose from, but only room on the gel for each person to test a select number of samples. How to choose? Compare single colors across candy types? Make a rainbow? Go for your favorite flavors?

As students set up their candies for extraction, Mariola went over how to keep a record of their experiment using a handout, and emphasized the importance of labeling. In fact, everybody in the room who had worked in a lab before agreed on the importance of having everything labeled clearly. Lawrence explained how to make an agarose gel, and supervised while students prepared one of their own.

Making the gelDuring preparation, the candies were soaking in alcohol, but it seemed like the extraction was going very slowly, if at all. What could be the problem? Were the candies used not very well suited to the experiment? Did they need more mixing? Was there a difference between shaking the sample cups and using a pipette to run the alcohol over the candies? What about confectioner’s wax; could the candies be coated? What would happen if the M&Ms were crushed; would the alcohol extract colored compounds from the chocolate?
As often happens in science, one experiment sparked the ideas for many others.

After a brief adventure with a leaky gel tray, students broke out the micro-pipettes and began making standards from commercial food coloring. Working with tiny volumes of food coloring was good practice for handling the extractions.

Loading the gel 1

Loading the gel for electrophoresis requires a steady hand.

And then, it was time for the big challenge – loading the gel! There was one sample too many, and a brief paper-rock-scissors competition ensued to see who would leave out one of their food coloring standards. Loading the gel correctly was a test of lab notebook record-keeping, steady hands, spatial awareness, and tube labeling. During the process a few of the small tubes fell through the rack, but thanks to accurate labeling, no samples were lost!

Finished gel

After some waiting, chatting, and ducking out of the lab to eat some of the untested candies, the gel was done!

Despite challenges and set-backs, a good time was had by all. The class generated some great discussion about results, future experiments and troubleshooting experimental methods for the next round of Candy Electrophoresis! Join us next time!

Veenadhari explains 1

Veenadhari Kollipara explains gel electrophoresis to friends and family

Mariola and Lawrence both work for Invention Evaluator.
Mariola is also the founder of Witty Scientists (

Photos and Correspondence by Christine Lloyd

Upcoming Classes: Chemistry & Biology of Cosmetics, Candy, and Microscopic Worms

HiveBio has some new and exciting classes coming up in the next few weeks. Registration is limited, so sign up now at the links below!

The Science Behind Lotions:  Hands-on lab and exploration of labels and regulations
Reitha Weeks, PhD
Saturday March 22 @ 2pm

What makes a lotion one’s “favorite?” Do you believe all of the manufacturer’s claims? Examine labels and learn the chemistry behind successful lotions. Learn about the FDA’s requirements for safety and labeling of cosmetics. Make lotion and take home samples with the fragrances of your choice.

Candy Crush Electrophoresis
Mariola Kulawiec, PhD and Lawrence Own, PhD
Saturday March 29 @ 3pm

Electrophoresis is a molecular tool that can be used to separate molecules by size. In this class, you will extract colors from candy and run them out on a gel. We’ll talk about what we learn about the colors and how this simple technique can be used in other applications.

C. elegans and Model Organisms
Hannah Chapin, PhD
Saturday April 12 @ 1pm

In this class we’ll explore how scientists use model organisms to study complex diseases. You’ll get hands-on experience with the nematode model organism C. elegans, learn about the connection between an animal’s genes and physical appearance, and hear about how these tools are used in the laboratory to shed light on health, disease, and aging.

These lab classes are perfect for beginners and scientists of all ages. Children under 18 welcome with a parent. Contact with questions.