Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) may be the home of almost 600 students, postdocs, principal investigators, technicians, and scientific staff, but it also becomes the temporary home of ~8,000 researchers each year via events that CSHL Meetings & Courses Program organizes and hosts. Many are first-time visitors and they become enthralled by the beauty of our harbor-side campus, returning to their home institutions with immediate plans to come back to CSHL. To assist our first-time visitors and ensure they make the most of their maiden voyage to CSHL, we asked several resident scientists and staff members to share some “insider” tips. Their words of wisdom provide the perfect crash course for all who step foot on campus!
Let us first get a lay of the land. “The parts of campus you will want to visit are accessible by a beautifully manicured staircase. It’s the most scenic way to a lot of CSHL buildings and has the least car traffic,” says Jonathan Ipsaro, a postdoctoral fellow in structural biology who’s been at CSHL since 2010.
“If a campus tour is offered while you’re here, definitely sign up for it!” Lisa Kimoto, a scientific administrator for a genomics lab, concurs: “[Campus tours] are very insightful and give you access to see behind-the-scenes.” And third-year graduate student Martyna Sroka enthusiastically agrees: “All CSHL first-timers should attend one of the campus tours! They are a fantastic way to not only familiarize oneself with the practicalities of campus...but also learn about the rich and inspiring history of the lab and the area! Listening to behind-the-scenes trivia about the work done by CSHL Nobel Laureates while walking through the buildings where the work was carried out is guaranteed to inspire anyone.” (Martyna is also one of the official campus tour guides so she might be a little biased!)
To become acquainted with the Lab, refer to this map.
If you find yourself in search of a respite while on campus, heed Finance & Accounting Supervisor Mary Ellen Goldstein’s advice and “take advantage of the beautiful grounds and go for a stroll.” CSHL offers an abundance of scenic areas perfect for gathering your thoughts and envisioning how to adapt a newly-learned technique into your work. Several of these areas become popular during warmer months, especially the beach at the end of Bungtown Road, the lawn by the volleyball court, and the Hillside Plaza, which provides a “bird’s eye view of the Harbor” according to second-year graduate student Cole Wunderlich. The lawn by the volleyball court is considered by many, including Public Affairs Communication Associate Sara Roncero-Menendez, to be a “nice little spot to take your lunch and catch up with friends.”
Emilis Bruzas, a graduate student in cancer biology, recommends the beach for a lunchtime break, which also serves as a launch point if you follow fourth-year graduate student Ngoc “Tumi” Tran’s suggestion and borrow CSHL kayaks to experience the Harbor from the water itself. Another option is the quieter, well-maintained Stillman Outback Trail which Cole describes as a “nice retreat into nature.”
Whether on a campus tour or a quiet stroll, you will come across CSHL’s impressive collection of science-related art that is sprinkled throughout campus. In addition to outdoor sculptures like the popular Waltz of the Polypeptide, CSHL is home to two Dale Chihuly installations. Many resident scientists and staff members list these glass sculptures as must-see attractions. One hangs in the Marks building entryway while the other can be viewed either from the Dutch Stairs between Axinn Laboratory (Map #20) and Wendt Laboratory (Map #36), or from within Wendt.
For those who want to take an off-campus break, Robert Albinson in Shipping & Receiving notes that “we have some great parks [nearby].” The Cold Spring Harbor State Park and Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve are two local areas ideal for hikers. The former is “especially gorgeous in the fall” according to Tumi. Additionally, Robert suggests that “Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge is an ideal spot to view seals.”
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a historical and breathtaking place many proudly call their home and place of work. If you’re coming onto campus to train at a course, check out our #cshlcourselife series for more tips on preparing for your time with us. For those participating in a meeting, you can find advice on making the most of our meetings here.
We’ll close out this post with a list of fun on- and off-campus tips:
If you feel energetic and want to get a good work out in, do like Rocky Balboa and run up the steps to upper campus. (Mary Ellen Goldstein, Finance & Accounting Supervisor)
Play pickup beach volleyball from April to September. (Emilis Bruzas, Graduate student in Mikala Egeblad’s lab studying the interplay between the immune system and stem cell behavior in a model of breast cancer dormancy)
Enjoy the view from the Hillside patio, maybe [have] breakfast [there] before the meeting starts. (Lisa Kimoto, Research Operations Scientific Administrator)
The whaling heritage of Cold Spring Harbor can be spotted everywhere on campus if you know where to look (even the address of the lab pays homage to it!). The neighboring Whaling Museum is a fantastic place to spend a free afternoon. (Martyna Sroka, Graduate student in Chris Vakoc’s lab working on pediatric cancer utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 knockout screens to understand differentiation block in muscle cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma)
The Oheka Castle is a gorgeous estate ten minutes from the lab by car. It is where a Jonas brother got married and where Taylor Swift filmed the “Blank Space” music video. (Tumi Tran, Graduate student in Alexei Koulakov’s lab)
Have some drinks and chicken quesadillas at Blackford Bar. (Hanfei Deng, Postdoctoral fellow in Bo Li’s lab working on neural mechanism underlying motivated behaviors through optogenetics and imaging methods)
Have a southwestern salad at Hillside Café. (Emilis Bruzas)
Take a photo in front of the Jones Laboratory (Map #28)—CSHL’s first building! (Hanfei Deng)
Go fishing. The Harbor offers some of the best fishing on Long Island and you don’t need a boat. (Robert Albinson, Shipping & Receiving Clerk)
If you want to take the train into NYC, the Cold Spring Harbor and Syosset train stations are equidistant from the Lab. However, the fare at the Syosset station is cheaper and the Syosset station is part of the CSHL Shuttle’s route. (Jonathan Ipsaro, Postdoctoral fellow with Leemor Joshua-Tor studying structural mechanisms of RNA interference)
Photos: Constance “Connie” Brukin (unless otherwise noted)