“Going viral” implies explosive growth and spread—like bad news on social media… or Covid-19. Safe to say, viruses have been around way longer than people. They’re everywhere! But what ARE viruses? Are they mini-cells? Are they even alive? We naturally focus on those that infect humans, but they have ramifications far beyond us. They DO indeed infect us and can cause diseases, but we humans make use of viruses as well in basic research and even clinical practice. In this class we’ll look into the many ways viruses work in the biosphere—extending even to the “calling cards” of viral DNA that make up a significant fraction of our human genome. No previous science background is required. (Basic background on cells and microbes will be included.) The class is primarily lecture with directed discussions.