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EMBRC ERIC Advanced Training Course: Marine Invertebrate Live Imaging Course



Course format Blended
Date 2024-05-06 - 2024-08-30
Duration 50 - 60 hours
Entry level Master
Cost Free (no tuition fees apply)

The aim of the course is to provide key background knowledge on how to work with live marine invertebrates and hands-on experience on how to perform imaging studies using live marine invertebrates.  The course will be delivered in a blended format, i.e., there will be a mandatory online (remote) phase consisting of theoretical background information about the biology of the marine invertebrates, microscopy theory and image analysis techniques (including the use of freeware) as well as assessments. The online component needs to be successfully completed before the on-site (hands-on) phase of the course. The onsite component will consist of 2 main parts. The first part of the onsite course will provide hands on experience on how to get started working with a number of marine invertebrates (eg. jellyfish, sea urchins, ascidian, salps). During the course the participant will learn how to collect and fertilize gametes and to understand and recognize the different developmental stages of the different marine invertebrates. During part 2 of the onsite course the participants will be split into small groups to perform more in-depth imaging studies of their chosen marine invertebrate.

Course Content

Online component (individual, self-paced) (to take place between May - June 2024)

  • Invertebrate models biology background
  • Sample preparation techniques
  • Microscopy background and types of microscopy for live imaging
  • Image analysis background and available freeware

Onsite component (to take place between 26 - 30 August 2024)

  • Day 1-2. Whole class together
    • Whole class hands-on marine invertebrates handling class (teaching lab). Recap on invertebrate models by Tutors
    • Sample preparation for live imaging
  • Day 3-4.
    • Students split into 4 groups to perform imaging experiments using ascidian, jellyfish, echinoderm and salps on two different types of Light Sheet microscopes and two different Confocal microsopes
  • Day 5.
    • Image analysis classes - students will be split into two groups and follow two classes each
    • recap on Microscopy theory
    • recap on Image analysis

Target audience: PhD students and post PhD with a background in biological sciences

Language of instruction: English (spoken and written)


  • Alex McDougall (Course Scientific Coordinator) (
  • Evelyn Houliston -
  • Sandra  Chevalier -
  • Stefano Tiozzo -
  • Alex Alié -
  • Stefania Castagnetti -
  • Jenifer Croce -
  • Silvia Caballero -
  • Daniel Gonzalez Suarez -
  • Sebastien Schaub -
  • Frédéric Brau -


Course Format: The course will be delivered in a blended format, i.e., there will be a mandatory online (remote) phase consisting of a theoretical background and (individual) assessments. The online component needs to be successfully completed before the on-site phase of the course. The onsite component will include lab work and several group activities.

Course Duration: this is a blended course with a total duration of 50 - 60 hours, as follows:

  • Online phase: 20 - 30 hours (self-paced) learning, to be completed between May and June 2024. 
  • Onsite phase: 30 hours, between 09:00 - 17:00 to be completed between 26th Aug - 30th Aug 2024, at the Marine Station at Villefranche (IMEV), France

Learner Assessment and Course Certificate:

  • Online contents assessment:
    • quizzes focusing on theoretical background (e.g., identify stages of development, nomenclature microscopy techniques, image analysis fundamentals, etc, …)
  • Onsite assessment (the trainee should be able to demonstrate the following skills):
    • Can the student obtain gametes from the invertebrate?
    • Can the student recognize the different stages of embryonic development?
    • Can the student perform the image analysis tasks?
    • Does the student understand imaging theory?
    • Final group project and presentation

A Certificate of attendance or completion will be issued to participants who fulfill the following criteria:

  • completed the mandatory activities of the online phase (activity completion tracking)
  • achieved a minimum of 70% on the online phase assessments (quizzes, etc)
  • full attendance and active participation during the onsite phase
  • demonstrated ability to successfully perform sampling preparation, imaging and analysis, assessed during the onsite group activities


No specific skills required

Application procedure

Attendance is limited to 20 participants maximum. The following criteria will be used in the selection process:

  • motivation statement (how can this training course improve current research)
  • how the training can contribute to better address a current/future research question, etc);
  • current role/job position and content or study/research topic

Period for applications: 4 - 24th March 2024 (see link to application form)

Grant opportunities

This course is organized and sponsored by EMBRC ERIC. There is no tuition fee and the course organization will offer coffee breaks/refreshments and (a light) lunch during the onsite course days.

However, any other costs must be borne by the participant and/or its parent institution (travel, accommodation, any other costs).

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the trainee should be able to:

  • describe different marine invertebrate species suitable to be used as research model organisms, and explain the different research settings/questions each of them is more suitable for
  • explain and successfully perform the sample preparation techniques
  • describe the different microscopy techniques and select the most adequate to be used in live imaging
  • perform image analysis using selected freeware
  • interpret images using different (microscopy) techniques


ISCED Categories

Scientific modelling