#cshlcourselife

Enjoy CSHL Like a Local

Photo: Marie Adomako via Twitter (@blingmarie)

Photo: Marie Adomako via Twitter (@blingmarie)

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!)

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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.

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During the warmer months, many of our course and meetings social functions are held on the Airslie Lawn located by the CSHL Beach.
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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.

The Stillman Outback Trailhead is located behind the Cabins.

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.

The Waltz of the Polypeptide is just one of our several outdoor sculptures. It is located by Dolan Hall.
One of our two Dale Chihuly installations on campus.

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:

View of Hillside.

View of Hillside.

  1. 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)

  2. 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)

  3. Enjoy the view from the Hillside patio, maybe [have] breakfast [there] before the meeting starts. (Lisa Kimoto, Research Operations Scientific Administrator)

  4. 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)

  5. 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)

  6. 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)

  7. Have a southwestern salad at Hillside Café. (Emilis Bruzas)

  8. Take a photo in front of the Jones Laboratory (Map #28)—CSHL’s first building! (Hanfei Deng)

  9. 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)

  10. 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)

Xenopus Reunited

Photo provided by Heather Ray

Photo provided by Heather Ray

It is our pleasure to introduce the launch of our guest writer series. The series will highlight pieces from course and meeting participants, and graduate students of the Watson School of Biological Sciences who share their personal insights to a meeting or course in which s/he took part.

Kicking off the Series is Heather Ray, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an alumna of the 2017 Xenopus course, who recounts her CSHL course experiences, and the unexpected benefits her participation at the course continually presents.

In April 2017, I stepped off the airport shuttle at the Cold Spring Harbor Campus ready to start my two-week long adventure as part of the Cell and Molecular Biology of Xenopus course. Everyone I know who has attended a CSHL course told me what a great experience it would be, and I was highly anticipating the chance to learn from some amazing scientists and make a lot of new personal and professional connections. Within the first day, I knew that what everyone had told me was true and I would not be disappointed.

For me, one of the best aspects of the course were the people that I came to know. When you spend 24 hours a day working, eating, socializing, and resting with the same group of people, you get to know them pretty well. We came from all over the world and each person brought his/her own unique ideas and perspectives; and yet we all had one thing in common: our passion for our science. By the time the course ended, I thought of them as family and missed seeing them once I returned home. But, one of the great things about our profession is that there are always opportunities to see each other again, and I anticipated I would next meet up with some of my new friends at a meeting or other scientific event.

L to R: Amy Sater, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Mustafa Khokha, Karen Liu, Andrea Wills. Photo provided by Heather Ray.

L to R: Amy Sater, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Mustafa Khokha, Karen Liu, Andrea Wills. Photo provided by Heather Ray.

While at the course, it was easy to see how all of us in the same class would connect with each other. But what I didn’t anticipate, is how much these course experiences translate across the years and create a sense of kinship between people who have never met. I was able to experience this type of connection firsthand in August of this year at the 17th International Xenopus Conference in Seattle, WA. This biennial meeting attracts researchers from around the world who use Xenopus species in their research, and there is always a good chance that a number of former CSHL Xenopus course participants - including students, TA’s, and lecturers - will be in attendance. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was generous in sponsoring a reception so that we could host a “Xenopus Course” reunion for the course participants present at the conference. We advertised the event ahead of time and asked people to wear their special course T-shirts as a way to honor the course and identify each other.

Going into the event, I was expecting some level of participation and discussion among those who already knew each other and wanted to reconnect. I quickly found my own classmates (there were six of us present, including two TA’s) and we had a great time catching up. But then my expectations were far exceeded as I witnessed the number of people who chose to participate in the reunion and were having a great time talking to, not only their own friends but, everyone present. I was amazed to see people wearing their course T-shirts from 20 years ago and we shared some great laughs over the stories behind the pictures and phrases enshrined on the shirts.

The reunion became much more than a chance to connect with old friends; it grew into a great opportunity to make many new friends and colleagues as well. I found myself talking to Atsushi Suzuki, an associate professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, who took the course as a graduate student in its very first year in 1993. I met several people for whom the course meant so much that they kept returning to the course becoming involved for many years in multiple roles. We talked about how the focus of the course has changed over the years with the change in technology and direction of the field. I had a great time meeting the original directors who dreamed up the course and saw it come to fruition. One of those masterminds, Rob Grainger, told me how happy he is to see that the course is still benefiting and inspiring so many scientists and serving the research community he loves. In all, there were almost 50 of us at the reunion. That equates to 50 new friends, 50 new colleagues, and an exponential growth of my network.

Fifty-eight (58) of the 226 17th International Xenopus Conference attendees were an alum of our Xenopus course. The CSHL Xenopus course alums present at the 2018 Xenopus Conference were: Ira Blitz, Daniel Buchholz, Brenda Cadiz-Rivera, Chenbei Chang, Pan Chen, Ken Cho, Jan Christian, Hollis Cline, Vaughn Colleluori, Mark Corkins, Helene Cousin, Michael Danilchick, Priya Date, Lance Davidson, Marietta Easterling, Hironori Funabiki, Maike Getwan, Michael Gilchrist, Adriana Golding, Robert Grainger, John Gurdon, Richard Harland, Rebecca Heald, Stefan Hoppler, Darcy Kelley, Cindy Kha, Stephanie Khairallah, Mustafa Khokha, Cristopher Kintner, Paul Krieg, Taejoon Kwon, Carole LaBonne, Juan Larrain, Karen Liu, Alexandra MacColl Garfinkel, Ann Miller, Kelly Miller, Rachel Miller, Emily Mis, Sally Moody, Takuya Nakayama, Anna Noble, Heather Ray, Robyn Reeve, Amy Sater, Asako Shindo, Hazel Sive, Eun Kyung Song, Jian Sun, Atsushi Suzuki, Marcela Torrejon, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Peter Vize, Peter Walentek, John Wallingford, Grant Wheeler, Coral Zhou, and Aaron Zorn. Photo provided by Heather Ray.

Fifty-eight (58) of the 226 17th International Xenopus Conference attendees were an alum of our Xenopus course. The CSHL Xenopus course alums present at the 2018 Xenopus Conference were: Ira Blitz, Daniel Buchholz, Brenda Cadiz-Rivera, Chenbei Chang, Pan Chen, Ken Cho, Jan Christian, Hollis Cline, Vaughn Colleluori, Mark Corkins, Helene Cousin, Michael Danilchick, Priya Date, Lance Davidson, Marietta Easterling, Hironori Funabiki, Maike Getwan, Michael Gilchrist, Adriana Golding, Robert Grainger, John Gurdon, Richard Harland, Rebecca Heald, Stefan Hoppler, Darcy Kelley, Cindy Kha, Stephanie Khairallah, Mustafa Khokha, Cristopher Kintner, Paul Krieg, Taejoon Kwon, Carole LaBonne, Juan Larrain, Karen Liu, Alexandra MacColl Garfinkel, Ann Miller, Kelly Miller, Rachel Miller, Emily Mis, Sally Moody, Takuya Nakayama, Anna Noble, Heather Ray, Robyn Reeve, Amy Sater, Asako Shindo, Hazel Sive, Eun Kyung Song, Jian Sun, Atsushi Suzuki, Marcela Torrejon, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Peter Vize, Peter Walentek, John Wallingford, Grant Wheeler, Coral Zhou, and Aaron Zorn. Photo provided by Heather Ray.

For many of us, one of the hardest parts of the job is to network, and yet it is so crucial for success. To walk up to someone you don’t know, introduce yourself, and spark a conversation can be quite intimidating; especially if it is someone you admire. But what I learned this summer is that by simply sharing the common bond of having participated in the CSHL Xenopus course, networking becomes easy and natural. I was able to meet and “talk shop” with leaders in my field who I otherwise might not have. I also know that my new network isn’t limited to the attendees of the reunion or my course year cohorts. I can contact anyone associated with the course and, just by simply identifying myself and the common bond we share, they would become a great new connection. This summer, I learned that while the time you attend a CSHL course may be limited, the benefits you gain are not. I look forward to continuing to reap the bounty from my course experience for years to come.

If you’d like to join the CSHL Xenopus community and its alumni events, be sure to take part in the Cell & Developmental Biology of Xenopus: Gene Discovery & Disease course. It will again be offered at CSHL on April 3-16, 2019. Applications are due January 31, 2019 and are being accepted here.

If you’re a past meeting or course participant interested in submitting a piece on your experiences at CSHL, let us know.

#CSHLCourseLife: Insider Tips

#CSHLCourseLife: Insider Tips

For the fifth installment of the #CSHLCourseLife Series, we turned to our alumni liaisons for their “insider tips”. Recent course participants themselves, the alumni liaisons share tips on a wide array of topics – including how to prepare for a course and how to make the most of chance interactions during a course – and we hope their collective wisdom will be valuable as you prepare to apply and/or attend a CSHL course.