#CSHLCourseLife: Banbury Edition

Conference Center at the Banbury Campus

The Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was born of a philanthropic act by Charles Sammis and Marie Hoffman Robertson, longtime residents of the New York City area. In 1976, the Robertsons bequeathed a portion of the present-day Banbury Campus to CSHL for use as a conference center. The first Banbury meeting was held in May 1978 and since then, more than 650 small discussion meetings have convened at the Center. Approximately twenty Banbury meetings are now held each year, in addition to a handful of "Banbury courses" that are run at the Center.

The Banbury Center is set on 55 acres in Lloyd Harbor, New York – approximately 15 minutes by car from the CSHL Main Campus. The Banbury Campus consists of Robertson House, Meier House, Sammis Hall, and the Conference Center itself; all the buildings are within comfortable walking distance of each other. Its serene and relatively isolated location is ideal for the 5-7 lecture-based courses and workshops we hold at the Banbury Campus each calendar year. Ranging from four days to two weeks in length, these courses and workshops are designed to maximize discussions between participants outside of a laboratory setting.

This blog post, part of the informational #CSHLCourseLife Series, provides insight into the courses and workshops held at the Banbury Center: 

Scientific Writing Retreat Co-Instructor Stephen Matheson working one-on-one with a 2017 course trainee in the Conference Center.

Scientific Writing Retreat Co-Instructor Stephen Matheson working one-on-one with a 2017 course trainee in the Conference Center.

Acceptance Letter

Admission to a CSHL course is competitive. Trainees are selected by the course organizers from a new pool of highly-qualified applicants each year. Approximately four to six weeks after the application deadline, accepted course applicants will receive notification via email from the course registrar. (Check on the application deadline of your course here.) Subsequent messages from the course registrar will cover a wide range of important details including, but not limited to, tuition payment information and due dates, available financial aid, as well as course arrival and departure information. 

Pre-Course Communication

Prior to the start of a course, accepted trainees will receive course-related communication either from their instructors or course registrar. When, how, and what communication is sent varies by course but may include the course schedule, a list of invited guest lecturers, information regarding free time, information regarding our online learning management system, and pre-course reading materials or activities. 


International participants must apply for a U.S. B-1 Business Visitor Visa or, if eligible, ESTA through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you require a visa, check with your local U.S. Embassy and apply for a B-1 Visitor Visa as soon as possible. Be sure to also check with the human resources department or international student office at your home institution if you have questions about which visa you need.

If you will be applying for a visa, inform your course registrar and provide him/her with the city and country of the U.S. Embassy at which you will submit your visa paperwork. Your course registrar will provide you with a Consulate Support Letter you can use, in addition to your acceptance letter, to assist in your B-1 Visitor Visa application. The Consulate Support Letter can also be used when going through Customs.   

NOTE: Some U.S. Embassies have taken the position that international participants should enter as a J-1 Short-Term Scholar or F-1 Student. However, the CSHL Meetings & Courses Program is not a credit-granting institution, and therefore student visas are not appropriate for our programs. 

Neural Data Science, 2017

Neural Data Science, 2017

Traveling to the Banbury Center

If your travel to the Banbury Center does not involve an airport, refer to the Travel Tips & Notes section for pertinent travel information. For those flying in, you have four airports from which to choose:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (Airport code: JFK)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • MacArthur Airport (ISP)
  • Newark International Airport (EWR)

JFK, LGA, and ISP are all located in Long Island while EWR is in Newark, New Jersey. Your travel options from the airport to the Banbury Center will be plenty and range in time and cost. Below are ground transportation itinerary options from each of the four airports, along with approximate costs for one person (in USD) and active travel time. (Contact information for the below listed transportation providers are available here.) When deciding on your travel itinerary, keep in mind the amount of luggage with which you will be traveling. Sharing a ride with a fellow trainee is also an option; ask your course registrar for information regarding ride share options. 


What to Pack

To pack efficiently, we recommend referring to this website for the weather forecast surrounding your stay. Here is a list of items that many course trainees regularly forget but we recommend you bring:

  • Any and all anticipated medications
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair dryer  
  • Umbrella or rain poncho
  • Flip flops or slides (for the shower)
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Sweater or sweatshirt (even if you are attending a summer course or workshop)
  • Bathing suit
  • Recreational gear
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By the same token, here are items you do not need to bring, as they will be available in the Banbury guestrooms:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Linen (i.e., bed sheets, blankets, and towels)

Due to the Center’s natural setting, be mindful of poison ivy, ticks, and Lyme Disease.

Other than that, pack comfortable casual clothes in which you are able to spend sixteen hours a day. If you do forget to pack something, a Rite Aid drugstore is located in Huntington Village approximately 10 minutes from the Banbury Campus. 

Robertson House; Photo by Jan Witkowski

Robertson House; Photo by Jan Witkowski

Arrival & Orientation

Once you arrive at the Banbury Center, head to the Robertson House, where you will meet your course registrar as well as Banbury Hostess Basia Polakowski. They will provide you with an informational packet that will include materials such as your course schedule, room key, nametag, and a map of the Banbury Campus.

Generally, we ask our course trainees to arrive at Banbury by 5 PM, but the exact arrival time will be provided by your course registrar via email. On the day of arrival, we will host a cocktail reception followed by dinner. Also, a brief orientation will be provided the next morning by your course registrar and Banbury Center Director Rebecca Leshan.

If you plan to arrive at Banbury before 1 PM or after 7 PM on the designated arrival day for your course, please inform your course registrar. 

Meals & Accommodations

Housing is guaranteed for our course trainees, instructors, and teaching assistants for the duration of a course. Trainees are accommodated in either Robertson House or Sammis Hall. Housing is assigned by gender, generally as double-occupancies for trainees; it is very likely that you will have a roommate during your stay at Banbury. Daily housekeeping is provided, as are eco-friendly options relating to linens. 

Meals are served during the following hours and at these locations:  

Breakfast in Robertson House: 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Lunch in Meier House or Conference Center: 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Dinner in Robertson House: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Every meal is prepared off-site and shuttled to the Banbury Campus. If you have any dietary requirements, inform your course registrar via email as soon as possible so arrangements can be made. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher meals are available when requested in advance.

For those with special dietary requests, be sure to also introduce yourself to Banbury Hostess Basia Polakowski on your day of arrival, and inform her of your dietary restrictions.



The Banbury Campus is patrolled by CSHL Security 24 hours every day. In case of emergencies, contact either the CSHL Emergency Hotline (Ext 5555 from a house phone) or your course registrar.

For all life-threatening emergencies, dial 911 (or 9-911 from a house phone).

CSHL Main Campus has the Health & Wellness Center available for small injuries or sudden illnesses. It is located in Room 111 of Dolan Hall (East Wing) and is open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM (closed daily from 1 PM to 2 PM). Appointments are recommended and can be made by calling (516) 422-4422 or Ext 4422 from a house phone. 

Conference Center outdoor sitting area

Conference Center outdoor sitting area

Amenities & Activities

Wi-Fi: Complimentary wireless internet is available throughout the Banbury Campus and does not require a log-in password. Please note that mobile reception in and around the campus is weak.

Coffee: We take coffee seriously at CSHL and make certain we have plenty available. Carafes of coffee and basic add-ins are delivered to the Conference Center multiple times a day! Also, the kitchen in Sammis Hall and Meier House are equipped with some coffee supplies. For non-coffee drinkers, tea options are also available.

Laundry: A complimentary laundry facility, consisting of two washer and dryer units, is available in the lower-level of Sammis Hall. Laundry detergent is available free of charge.

Parking: A limited number of spots are available throughout the Center on a first-come, first-served basis; a parking permit is not required. Refer to this map for the areas designated for parking.

Recreational Activities: The Banbury Conference Center and on-campus residences are professional buildings. Please help us preserve these historical buildings and the antiques inside them by refraining from any disruptive or disrespectful behavior that may interfere the working and learning environment. Refer to our Code of Conduct for more details.

A recreation room is available in the lower level of Robertson House and includes a pool table, foosball table, karaoke machine, dart board, board games, radio system with select CDs, and cable TV (with laptop connectivity).

Tennis racquets and balls, are stored in the recreation room in Robertson House, and can be used on the tennis courts near Sammis Hall. Please return all equipment in the same condition and location.

The Banbury pool* is open only when there is a lifeguard on duty. Please avoid bringing any glass containers to the pool area.

While there is a beach* down the hill from Robertson House, there is no lifeguard on duty and so you swim at your own risk. Please avoid bringing any glass containers to the beach; open fires are also not allowed.

Walking and jogging routes are available throughout the Banbury Campus and surrounding neighborhoods.

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve is located approximately 15 minutes from the Banbury Center by personal car or taxi, and offers a diverse range of outdoor activities.

*These are seasonal activities available daily 12 PM – 6 PM from Memorial Day (late May) to early September only.

Cellular Biology of Addiction, 2017

Cellular Biology of Addiction, 2017

Meetings & Courses Office

Located in the lower level of Grace Auditorium in the CSHL Main Campus, the Meetings & Courses Office is staffed 8 AM to 5 PM Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 1 PM Saturday and Sunday. For any administrative-related questions, first contact your course registrar via email or telephone. If you need assistance when the Office is closed, contact your course registrar or Security at Ext 8870 from a house phone. 



Your course and time at the Banbury Center will eventually come to an end. Here is some information to help ease your departure:

Check-Out: Room check-out is 9 AM. Extensions are not possible because Housekeeping has to turn over the rooms in time for the next incoming course or meeting. Please make sure to return your room key in the designated baskets in each of the houses.

Luggage: Bring your luggage with you to the Conference Center, as it will be your point of departure. If your luggage is large or heavy, inform your course registrar ahead of time so arrangements can be made to assist you.

Travel: For international travelers, plan to arrive at the airport three hours prior to your departure to allow enough time for Check-in and Security. Domestic travelers can arrive at the airport two hours prior to their departure time. Regarding ground travel, simply reverse the itinerary you followed to the Banbury Center. 

Workshop on Pancreatic Cancer Participants with Dr. James Watson, 2017

Workshop on Pancreatic Cancer Participants with Dr. James Watson, 2017

Social Media

The CSHL Meetings & Courses Program has a dedicated account on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where we share information related to our meetings, courses, as well as news about our course alumni. Our handle for all three platforms is @cshlmeetings and ‘#cshlcourselife’ is the official CSHL course hashtag. Tag @cshlmeetings and use #cshlcourselife so we can share your posts. Also, remember to follow us to receive information about upcoming CSHL meetings and courses. 

To find out if your course has a dedicated social media presence, check out this webpage and/or feel free to ask your instructors.

Alumni Network

Our alumni have described their experiences at our courses as “life-changing” and return to their labs with a larger, international network of professional colleagues. To help our alumni maintain and, most importantly, continuously expand their networks, we developed two online platforms:

Course Alumni Network: This is a section of our blogsite that is dedicated to our course alumni. It is a central location where you can find online, course-centric groups available to alumni across all years of a given course. If you are a course alum but aren’t yet part of your alumni network(s), check out this page to get back in touch and reminisce with your fellow alumni. Membership is complimentary and we encourage you to post questions, publications, collaborations, upcoming meetings you’re attending or that may be relevant to your fellow alums, and any other updates in your research and career. 

Alumni Coordinators: A number of courses have a coordinator who we consider our alumni liaison. They are in charge of managing the alumni group and ensuring everyone is kept in the loop. Coordinators are typically recent trainees; if you would like to be a coordinator, let us know.

Travel Tips & Notes

  • Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
    • The Banbury Center is located closest to the Huntington Station on the Port Jefferson LIRR line. From Huntington Station, you will need to catch a taxi to the Banbury Center.
    • The LIRR schedule often changes so we recommend heading to their website or downloading LIRR’s free mobile app, Train Time to access the most recent train schedule.
    • Purchase your train ticket before boarding the train; otherwise, you will pay a steep premium. Tickets can be purchased in person at all train stations. Also available for purchase are e-tickets via another free LIRR mobile app, MTA eTix.  
    • There are 2 fare types - Peak and Off Peak - that are based on travel time. There is a price difference between the fare types so be sure to purchase the appropriate fare. The LIRR website, ticket machines, and ticket agents can assist you in determining which fare type applies to you. Also, you can purchase a one-way or a roundtrip ticket depending on your travel plans.
  • Driving Directions
    • Using the Long Island Expressway heading east, take Exit 41 and follow Route 106 to Route 25A. Turn right onto Route 25A for 5 miles, passing the main campus of CSHL on your left. Continue through the Cold Spring Harbor Village to arrive into Huntington Village. Turn left on West Neck Road and follow it for 2.6 miles. When you pass the Lloyd Harbor Police Station on your right, begin looking for the Banbury Center sign on your left. Turn left onto Banbury Lane and follow it until you reach a fork about ¼ mile down. Bear left at the fork to go through the Banbury Center gates and continue straight until you reach Robertson House. (Banbury Campus map)
  • Ferry from Bridgeport, Connecticut
    • Lindy’s Taxi is available in Port Jefferson to transport you from the ferry terminal to the Port Jefferson LIRR Station. From there, you can take the train to Huntington Station, then an Orange & White Taxi to CSHL Banbury Campus.
    • Call Lindy’s Taxi when you are boarding the ferry in Bridgeport to ensure a taxi will be available for you.
  • Reservations with Executive Limo Service and Super Shuttle should be made at least 2 to 3 days in advance – last minute reservations are not accepted. 
  • Additional tips for air travel to the Banbury Center
    • For those travelling by train from EWR, do not get off at Newark Penn Station (which is the first station stop after Newark Liberty Airport Station). ‘Newark Penn Station’ and ‘New York Penn Station’ sound very similar over the loudspeakers. New York Penn Station is the last and final stop. 
    • If you are taking the Q70-LTD Bus from LaGuardia Airport, be sure to purchase your fare before boarding. 
    • Do not accept transportation from those who approach you in the airport terminal. Most often, these drivers are neither licensed nor insured to operate a car service.
    • Avoid using taxicabs for transportation from the airports, as they are not familiar with directions to the Center. 
    • Sharing a ride with a course participant or two will help decrease your ground transportation costs. For those interested in sharing a ride between the airport and Banbury Center, your course registrar will email you a link where you can coordinate with other course participants interested in an airport ride share.

Contact Information of Mentioned Service Providers

  • Executive Limousine Service: Reserve at (631) 698-8000 or via execlimo1@optonline.net
  • Super Shuttle: Book your ride here and use discount code: BQH5E
  • Village Taxi (from ISP airport): (631) 588-1055
  • Orange & White Taxi (from Huntington Station): (631) 271-3600
  • Lindy’s Taxi (from Port Jefferson, NY): (631) 473-0707

If you have a tip or two you would like to share with the future generations of Banbury course trainees, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us and we will update this post. 

Also, this blog post is part of the #CSHLCourseLife Series. If your course is taking place on Main Campus, make sure to check out Part I for pre-arrival details such as acceptance letter, visas, and travel arrangements; Part II for information on what to pack, meals, accommodations, and on-campus amenities; and Part III for a list of the ancillary events and extra benefits that accompany your course.