URP Student Perspectives
Ahmet Doymaz with Dr. Leemor Joshua-Tor
The most important things I learned at Cold Spring Harbor were the core principles in carrying out a scientific project. The principal investigator with whom I worked, Leemor, taught me during our early meetings what mattered most when embarking on a scientific journey: asking a tangible scientific question and choosing the right method to tackle the problem. Working in her lab helped me grow and boost my confidence as a scientist, and while the expectations of high-level research were daunting at first, I quickly grew comfortable with exploring my project and arguing for what I found important.
This summer I was fortunate enough to be able to work with scientists who viewed and respected me as a fellow scientist, and who worked together with me to realize and refine the questions I had. I was lucky to have a great mentor that facilitated my structural biology journey, a field that was very new to me. I had a wonderful time at CSHL as an URP, and I would recommend the program to anyone who loves biology and who would like to experience the rigor of top-tier research. The program has a long history, and the various amenities offered, such as the housing, catering, planned activities, access to all of CSHL’s resources, and the stipend, reduce the hassles involved in moving to a new place and allow you to focus on what really matters—the science.
Owen Hughes with Dr. Tatiana Engel
When I decided to come to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Undergraduate Research Program (URP), I did so fearing that, having minimal experience with bench biology, I would be wildly out of my depth and this would make me an outsider in the program. Upon arriving at the lab, I discovered that the former was true, but the latter was not. In my first conversation with a fellow URP participant—URP for short—I came to understand that 90% of what I thought I knew to be true about RNA was simplistic at best. After repeating this process in every area of biological research from healthy plant cells to cancerous human cells, I was worried that the other URPs would regard me as a freak (or at least an ignoramus). This couldn’t have been more misguided. I had the pleasure of working in Tatiana Engel’s lab to develop an uncannily elegant method of inferring neural dynamics from spike data, and the mathematical nature of our lab made it easy for me to integrate into the scientific community there. More surprisingly, the seminars that were organized by the URP directors allowed me to gradually broaden my bench-biology horizons, and chance meetings with bench scientists during my daily coffee break would often lead to a lengthy discussion about the methods that they use in their research. Gradually I was able to speak to the other URPs about what they were doing, and even ask them questions—occasionally even intelligent ones!
This program is one of the most formative experiences in my research career to date. By working in close quarters with academically productive post-docs and savvy professors, I got an honest view of what scientific research looks like. Through seminars, socials, and late-night debates with scientists from biological fields macro and micro, I got a vivid picture of the brilliance and altruism as well as the intense ambition and competition that are central to the way that modern science operates. Working in a burgeoning field like computational neuroscience comes with certain sources of anxiety; the invaluable mentorship that I received over the course of this summer exposed me to and helped me deal with these stressors, and my constant exposure to other labs helped me to see a broad picture of computational neuroscience. Although I reach the end of the summer believing that I’m not well suited for the field, the URP program trusted me with an unfiltered view of what scientific research looks like at a prestigious institution such as Cold Spring Harbor; I’m unable to overstate how useful this experience was to me and to the other URPs I worked and lived with.
The URP program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory provided me and the other URPs with an opportunity to practice crucial skills in research–presenting, learning to manage a relationship with an advisor, and how to network with scientific peers. They also selected an impeccable group of peers to help each other cope with the endemic intensity of world-class scientific research, and for these reasons, I will be forever grateful to the program for the time I was able to spend there.
Samantha Rothberg with Dr. Doreen Ware
Cold Spring Harbor is like a summer camp for scientists. From petri dish relay races to biology-themed art installations to post-work volleyball tournaments, the CSHL community combines science and classic summer fun in the best, quirkiest way possible. My summer in the URP program was one of the most memorable I have ever had. Everyone I worked with was so supportive of my experience as an “URP,” willing to both meet me where I was and push me to improve my skills, hard and soft. This group included my PI and my mentor. I was grateful for the way my mentor gave me a mix of guidance and freedom in my work, allowing me to grow more independent as the summer progressed. My academic support base at CSHL also extended past my designated mentors. It included other faculty in my lab and in neighboring labs, who all contributed to my education even though I was not their student.
My learning as an URP did not stop once I left my lab for the day. My fellow URPs were the most engaged, inquisitive, and knowledgeable group of students I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. We spent many meals and nights talking about science/math (often over a game of Catan)—about each other’s projects, cool recently published papers, or weird debates such as the one over whether we should bring back the wooly mammoth. These conversations made me more sure of my desire to pursue a career in research, and also just made my summer all the more enjoyable. So, to any student who is passionate about science and, even more so, about learning in a rigorous and immersive, yet fun environment, I cannot recommend the CSHL URP program highly enough.
Yin Yaun with Dr. Christopher Vakoc
Participating in this Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory over this summer provided me with a fantastic opportunity to immerse into a world which exposed me to the leading edge of biological sciences. I enjoyed the environment of living in this relatively small community in which I could work closely with both my mentor and my principal investigator as well as form close relationships with my fellow undergraduates and people at CSHL. It is tremendously inspiring for me to work with my outstanding and dedicated mentor and principal investigator who offered me invaluable guidance and support throughout the program, leading me through the process of carrying out independent scientific research. There were also chances to attend various courses, meetings and conferences that are incredibly helpful for me to develop a comprehensive understanding about the latest topics in biological sciences. Not need to mention the unique Python programming workshops and Alumni talks at lunchtime offered me skills and insights with lifelong benefits.
Additionally, I learned a lot along with my fellow undergraduates by joining a casual discussion about our experimental updates and results over lunch and dinner as well as presenting at the final symposium about our individual projects. It was definitely a pleasure for me to play frisbee and volleyball after dinner, enjoy the sunset and BBQ at the beach in CSHL and hangout at NYC or Huntington town over weekends with my fellow undergraduates. I entirely enjoyed this exceptional and rewarding summer research experience at CSHL which equipped me with essential techniques and critical thinking skills that both will be significant for my future research career.
Chimsom Agbim with Dr. Lloyd Trotman
Participating in the Undergraduate Research Program (URP) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was a phenomenal opportunity. It allowed me to develop new laboratory techniques and encouraged me to think critically. It also enabled me to learn from leaders in the field and from my fellow URP students via courses, research talks, and presentations. During the program, I worked on an exciting project in prostate cancer. I was also provided the opportunity to learn about other areas of research, from plants to differential gene expression in subtypes of melanoma. In addition to discussions about many areas of science, leisurely events were also offered through the program. I enjoyed practicing volleyball on the volleyball court and visiting NYC. Researching at CSHL this summer was truly rewarding.
Noelle Ozimek with Dr. Pavel Osten
If you’re looking for a great undergraduate research experience, look no further! As an undergraduate, it can be difficult to feel like a full member of a lab…right? Not at Cold Spring Harbor. At CSHL, undergraduates like myself were welcomed with open arms from day one. The first two weeks we were there, investigators, grad students, lab techs and other employees at the lab would come up to me so excited to meet the new “URP”, the name for students in this program.
I studied under the guidance of Dr. Pavel Osten, whose lab uses state-of-the-art technology for whole-brain imaging. My school has a very set curriculum and there was no opportunity to study neuroscience at university. Thus, this experience gave me the opportunity to learn about a field of research that otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to study. The program at CSHL has been even better than I could have imaged. Multiple times a week, I attended networking and educational events which the staff had planned for students. The staff at CSHL has gone above and beyond taking time out of their busy schedules to mentor and teach me. It has been amazing to work at such a prestigious research institute and yet still very much feel like my education and experience is the lab’s priority!
This summer, I became a member of the scientific community. Having the opportunity to be immersed in the world of science has been an incredibly unique and rewarding experience, and has been the single experience that will have the biggest impact on my future career.
Nicole Sivetz with Dr. Adrian Krainer
You will be hard-pressed to find another research institution with a character that matches the excellence of its facilities and scientists. CSHL is home to a remarkable community of revolutionary investigators who strive to define and direct the frontiers of their respective fields daily. To have contributed to the rich history of the Undergraduate Research Program was a transformative opportunity for my growth as a scientist. This chance to assess and enhance my current skillsets has not only prepared me for graduate school but also a future career in research. CSHL serves as a major crossroads for scientists from around the globe, so it was incredibly easy to immerse myself in the latest topics for discussion and form new connections. Everyone I met, especially my principal investigator and graduate student mentor, was incredibly supportive and eager to share their passion for science. Living and learning alongside my fellow undergraduates on such a beautiful campus made it very easy to enjoy the summer; a typical day often included discussing our experimental results and project updates over meals, attending stimulating courses, and enjoying a game of ultimate frisbee or volleyball after analyzing data in the lab. To have conducted research at a place which continually impacts the lives of others was a humbling experience I will always treasure.
Macy Vollbracht with Dr. Camila dos Santos
The Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this past summer provided an exceptional opportunity to grow as a budding biologist. Engaging in the small, tight-knit community at CSHL was such a unique and fun experience. There are few institutions where your faculty mentor might live a few buildings away from their lab, where there are volleyball games nearly daily, or where there is such a rich history of discovery in the biological sciences and so many outside scientists come to present their work. In other words, CSHL is unique for many reasons, though the small community definitely stood out to me and greatly impacted my experience. I felt continually supported by my faculty mentor and appreciated her feedback throughout the summer on my presentations, written work, and lab work. I am a better scientist because of the feedback and advice I received from her, other lab members, and the URP administrators. The close relationships I formed with these people were definitely aided by the small and collaborative nature of the community at CSHL. It was inspiring to work among such dedicated scientists and so rewarding to learn from them. The URPs were another integral community to my summer experience. It was so much fun having a cohort of peers interested in biology research to troubleshoot results with at dinnertime, go to cool talks with during the week, and just hang out with on the weekends. I felt totally in my element this summer at CSHL as an aspiring scientist and feel very fortunate to have participated in this exceptional program.
Asad A. Lakhani with Dr. Mikala Egeblad
From the exhilaration of a full-length dive under the scintillating sun, to the adrenaline rush before a new personal best on the qPCR; from the joy of a lay-up as the sky transitions from azure to indigo, to the delight of a beautifully balanced Western; from the awe at discussion of cutting-edge research by the most brilliant minds, to the serenity of looking out across Cold Spring Harbor—a summer at CSHL has been quite an experience.
To carry out research in such an idyllic location, amongst such knowledgeable and driven scientists, and to be part of a program that brings together such a diverse group of highly motivated undergraduates has been an honour. Being an URP not only allows you to immerse yourself into the ‘nerdy’ aspects of the scientific community—ranging from single cell RNA-Seq discussions at breakfast to CRISPR/Cas9 meetings to brainstorming future directions for your lab project – but it also offers a seamless transition to the volleyball and basketball courts to blow off some steam. And perhaps most importantly, it gives you hope that you can survive a Ph.D!
James Gornet with Dr. Pavel Osten
This summer at CSHL has been an unforgettable experience. Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” At CSHL, I believe I have walked among such giants. Although these researchers were exceptionally busy, they did not hesitate to talk about a recent development in neuroscience or give some tips for the upcoming volleyball game. Along with the researchers at CSHL, I lived with twenty other URP students. We developed a close friendship and enjoyed each other’s company whether it would be hanging out in Huntington or working on the final presentation at one in the morning. The culture at CSHL is unlike any other research institution such that it promoted a close collaboration among both the faculty and students.
During my stay at CSHL, I had the unique opportunity to work under the guidance of Pavel Osten, whose group is interested in whole-brain imaging. Kannan Umadevi Venkataraju served as my mentor for my summer projects in analyzing whole-brain images. I cannot begin to express how immense an impact CSHL’s Undergraduate Research Program has had on me. While I have experience in computer science, I never had access to the data or the guidance to analyze whole-brain images thoroughly. Both Kannan and Pavel have provided great guidance throughout this summer. To complement my research work, I also attended CSHL’s Imaging Structure and Function of the Nervous System lecture series to broaden my understanding of nervous system imaging. I believe that the tools I have learned, and will continue to learn, will greatly benefit my future as a scientist.
Ashley Kyalwazi with Dr. Stephen Shea
Participating in the Undergraduate Research Program at CSHL was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. To be able to work on an independent project and learn a variety of new techniques in systems neuroscience, was an exciting challenge that I wholeheartedly embraced. Whenever I had a question- someone on campus was always willing to take a bit of time to explain a possible solution using his/her own expertise. Everywhere I turned, there were always people having interesting conversations- people who welcomed a new perspective and a new idea. This summer at CSHL, I was more than a rising Junior Undergraduate student… I was a neuroscientist!p
Kellie Wilson with Dr. Florin Albeanu
The Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was my third summer research program, and I can honestly say that it was hands-down the best. Having the opportunity to be surrounded by a community of scholars dedicated to science was a unique and rewarding experience, and between the program seminars, free course lectures, and the actual lab work, I learned so much in such a short amount of time. In the lab, I felt like a valued scientist, and there was a culture of sharing knowledge and ideas, and using everyone’s strengths to build up the community as a whole, which I think fosters an incredibly fun and productive research environment.What really made the program so wonderful, though, was getting to know so many amazing individuals. My fellow URPs are some of my favorite people I’ve ever had the chance to know, and the friendships you build through volleyball games, walks on the beach, trips to New York City, and late-night talks about everything from mitochondria to fascism are truly unforgettable. Being with a group of people who get your nerdy science puns and throw some right back at you made my summer one I will always remember.
Edith Jones with Dr. Chris Vakoc
The summer I spent as part of the Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Lab, has been the best summer of my life. This was a great opportunity to get outside my research comfort zone and explore different fields. CSHL provides a vibrant and diverse environment in which scientists from all over the world and different disciplines come together to do cutting edge science. Being able to attend the summer courses hosted at CSHL was an incredible chance to witness what the latest advances in research techniques will bring in the future.Set in beautiful Long Island, CSHL is surrounded by natural beauty that provides the perfect environment to breathe and clear your mind after a long day in lab. After a walk across the gorgeous campus and kayaking in its private beach, I always felt ready to go back to lab and do some more science. New York City being only a train ride away provided the perfect setting for fun adventures with the other URPs during the weekends. Being able to live in gorgeous cabins with other students as passionately committed to research as I am, was an unforgettable experience. In a way, it felt as a summer camp for young scientists!
Marley Alford with Dr. Michael Schatz
If you are considering applying to this program, I can’t recommend it enough! First of all, the faculty are world-class researchers; my awesome PI treated me with the trust and respect of one of his other graduate students, and my lovely grad student mentor, Maria Nattestad, was intelligent, inspiring, and patient. My fellow URPS were a really fun, and incredibly smart group of people. Finally, the campus was beautiful, and the hilly nature of the area provided free (and mandatory) exercise. To say that I enjoyed my URP summer would be an understatement; I truly loved it! One word of advice: practice volleyball.
Syndi Barish with Dr. Gholson Lyon
This past summer I had an amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to come up with and carry out a research project. Everyone in the Lyon lab was welcoming, supportive, and willing to help me if I needed it. This experience was invaluable for my future goal of pursuing a PhD in Genetics.However, the summer was about more than just my research project. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is more than a center of biological research; it is truly a scientific community. When I first stepped on campus, I was captivated by the numerous geeky items dispersed on campus: double helixes, March of the Polypeptides sculpture, etc. We were given the opportunity to attend any of the courses and meetings on campus ranging from Computational Neuroscience to Yeast Genetics. Additionally, CSHL faculty frequently talked to us about their research and scientific career paths, which exposed us to the broad range of unanswered questions and approaches to answering them in biology. We were invited to have dinner with Dr. Watson and the president of CSHL, Dr. Stillman, which were both unforgettable nights.Finally, I was able to live with the other undergraduates in the program who were as excited as I am about biological research and willing to learn from each other. When we were not in the labs, we had a lot of fun together. From this program, I have developed some long-lasting friendships. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity this past summer, where I have gained valuable knowledge that I believe will help me succeed in the future.
Daniel Burkhardt with Dr. Dorreen Ware
I had an incredible summer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. The intellectual community at CSHL encourages both personal and scientific growth. After a long day at lab, I was just as likely to attend a lecture on population genetics as I was to play an intense game of volleyball or tennis. I’ve heard faculty describe CSHL as “summer camp for scientists,” and after a summer here, I agree.I think that the most impressive part of CSHL is that the whole institution is set up to give scientists the opportunity to do the best research they’re capable of. With three meals a day, numerous recreational activities, and helpful support from the library and IT staff, it is easy to step into the community at CSHL and work productively. My mentors in lab were eager to help me learn, and the weekly faculty talks gave me insight into a variety of fields of research I would have never learned of before.The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory URP program is also simply fun. Every weekend a handful of URPs would go into New York City for a concert or shopping. For those more suited towards life in the country, Long Island and the Hamptons offer Gold Coast estates, vineyards, beaches, and parks for those wanting to explore.CSHL is a beautiful and intense place to spend a summer. I spent long nights preparing presentations and enjoyed afternoons watching sailboats in the harbor. I felt at home in a community of scholars and scientists.
Melina Gyparak with Dr. Marja Timmermans
My summer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has been the most incredible summer experience I have ever had. From the moment I walked in the CSHL campus, I immediately felt like home, as everyone was so friendly and welcoming.Throughout the 10 week program, I had the opportunity to work on a research project in the Timmermans lab, attend faculty talks and useful workshops and at the same time try out exciting activities such as kayaking and beach volleyball, and explore New York City with my fellow URPs. Not only did I learn new techniques in my field but I also learned how to think like a scientist. My supervisor was always telling me that it doesn’t matter that much if an experiment doesn’t work the first time, the important thing is to understand what’s wrong with it so that you can make it work next time you try. This is what research is all about and I am glad I had the chance to experience it first-hand this summer.Last but certainly not least, I got to meet some brilliant minds, my fellow URPs, with whom I shared my enthusiasm for science and I built friendships that I am sure will last for a lifetime. I could not be more grateful for this unforgettable experience I had that will definitely shape my future career path in science.
Beverly Mok with Dr. Christopher Vakoc
My time at CSHL was definitely one of my best summers yet. The structured program strikes a very good balance between work and play. Despite being a Chemistry major with little molecular biology lab experience prior to this, everyone in the lab was extremely helpful. I was given the free rein to plan my experiments and could easily approach my mentors or other lab members for advice and discussions about the research interests of the lab.I am glad to be able to share this amazing experience with my fellow URPs. We had a great time exploring the sights and sounds New York has to offer, kayaking along the scenic CSHL private beach and seeking out hiking trails in the vicinity. I found it very motivating to be surrounded by a vibrant community of undergraduates and research scientists who are so passionate and willing to share about their research. The URP program has allowed me to experience what it is like to be a research scientist, immerse in the exciting research area of cancer biology, forge long-lasting friendships with other URPs and affirmed my decision to pursue a PhD and get started on my own research soon!
Victoria Wang with Dr. Lloyd Trotman
As an international student from Vienna, Austria, studying in the UK, the Undergraduate Research Program at CSHL was more than just the outstanding academic experience. Under the guidance of an excellent post-doc supervisor, Dawid Nowak, I was able to spend ten weeks in a lab researching metastatic prostate cancer and developing a cutting-edge genome-editing tool. Weekly talks given by faculty members introduced me to the other areas of research at CSHL, including neuroscience and plant biology. Moreover, we were also given sound career advice and got an introduction to non-academic scientific careers.On top of being surrounded by interesting, like-minded and amiable overachievers, the programme also offered opportunities to become immersed in American culture. For example, we had sufficient time to explore New York City—an exciting place whose bustle is unparalleled in any European city I have visited—and were invited to see a musical on Broadway.Additionally, the programme fostered the emergence of new friendships and personal connections that will hopefully last beyond the duration of the summer. All in all, being an URP for ten weeks was like being at a very stimulating and labour-intensive science summer camp.
Michael MacGillivray with Dr. Alexander Krasnitz
At Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I found a complete scientific research experience. I experienced both the daily life of a laboratory and learned how to conceive, execute, and present a complete research project. Everyone I met helped ensure I had a meaningful and productive experience, engaged in real and applicable research.CSHL is pervaded by enthusiasm for scientific inquiry, and the URPs were immersed in the intellectual life of the Laboratory. We attended frequent faculty talks on cutting edge scientific research, and met figures intimately involved in major scientific advancements of the past. Personally meeting James Watson and hearing his advice to young scientists was unforgettable.The greatest part of the URP program was spending the summer with an incredible and diverse group of fellow undergraduate researchers. Whether discussing science, exploring New York City, or relaxing on the Lab’s private beach, the URPs were always friendly, interesting, and fun companions. I left CSHL with a deepened understanding of science and research and what are sure to be long-lasting friendships with some incredible people.
Alexis Tchaconas with Dr. Michael Wigler
CSHL is an incredible hub of cutting-edge biological research, providing the perfect environment for a thriving young scientist. I immediately felt at home when I first stepped on campus, as I remember admiring the many tributes to DNA cleverlyembeddedthroughout the campus. I dove into an exciting research project from the first week, under the guidance of my mentor, who was always available to work with me. I was new to my lab’s research area in computational biology, given my previous background in genetics and molecular biology research. My mentor and his lab members were instrumental in helping me learn the new skills I needed to pursue a computational biology project during my time as an URP.The unique experience of living at CSHL gave me the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a scientist outside of the lab and how to thrive in a scientific community. Each week, different CSHL faculty members would take time to talk to the URPs about their background and their current scientific work. I found it very valuable to learn about the many diverse paths CSHL faculty have pursued to become successful researchers in their respective fields. There were also more informal talks about how to manage family life outside of the lab, and alternative career options for PhDs. As fully embraced members of the CSHL community, we were also invited to sit in on any of the meetings and courses happening on campus. We also took advantage of the competitive evening volleyball games as a way to unwind from a productive day in the lab, and as an opportunity to meet other members of the CSHL community. My summer at CSHL was an unparalleled academic and social experience that has undoubtedly helped me define my future career in science.
Prashant Kota with Dr. Gholson Lyon
The past summer at CSHL was undeniably an eye-opening one. In one way, it forced me to extrapolate from what my college courses had taught me so far, and to think like a scientist—like in any summer research program. Yet, what was unique about this program was the plethora of opportunities that we were allowed to take advantage of: from attending world-renowned courses and meetings held at the CSHL campus, to networking with other graduate students and professors whose primary involvement was with their research. Additionally, being surrounded by other bright and motivated individuals was very encouraging and entertaining. Ten weeks flew by and I could not have imagined a more productive and fun summer experience.
Marjorie Morales with Dr. Leemor Joshua-Tor
Words cannot come close to describing how enriching my summer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was—it was a learning adventure I highly recommend every young scientist experience. There was so much to enjoy at CSHL and the contagious excitement of both the students and the laboratory scientists that live and breathe biology made my stay worthwhile. Having learned both classic and rare techniques contributed to my scientific and personal growth and equipped me with the skills to develop as a scientist.Time flew by over the course of the three-month period of scientific training. Through events like weekly workshops by numerous PIs, lab group meetings with HHMI scientists, and dinners with world-renowned scientists, it was set apart from previous summer research experiences. I would wake up to the breathtaking panoramic view of this impressive shore side research institute with a renewed sense of excitement to learn and understand the meaning of science. Living among an intelligent and diverse group of students in the cabins on campus and sharing results at the end of the summer further cultivated this learning experience. It was this very enthusiastic mindset of the CSHL community that fostered my intellectual growth and provided me the encouragement to pursue my goals to become a scientist. I am lucky to have met and developed lifelong friendships with colleagues that share the same goals, interests, and insatiable passion for biology.
Abhishek Dev with Dr. Adam Kepecs
My summer at CSHL has been the most scientifically rigorous and thrilling research experience I have had. Everyone is super friendly and welcoming. Many labs, that work on similar scientific fields, are housed together, which fosters collaboration and interaction between different labs. This allowed me to get different perspectives on my project and how I approached a particular problem. The students, PIs and the fellow URPs were approachable and there was always someone to go to for help when I got stuck in a problem.The campus is very beautiful and there are tons of things to do in and around CSHL. The summer program is well structured and hosts many events throughout the summer. We also had speaker seminar series, which exposed me to different approaches to scientific research. I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in scientific research.
Marta Andrés Terré with Dr. Marja Timmermans
This summer I discovered how real research differs from science learned in the classroom. I learned that questions, not answers, are what define an exciting scientific journey. I was in a lab where I had the chance to use new techniques and formulate hypotheses. Every single member of my lab was welcoming and friendly, always ready to help with a tricky experiment and to cheer me up during the long hours I spent behind the microscope. My project was very demanding, but also extremely exciting (to the point of not realizing how fast time flies).Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a unique environment, it is THE place to do Science, and having the opportunity to be part of its community has been extraordinary. From swimming in the ocean to walking through the frenetic streets of Manhattan, to hearing about the “newest trends” in science and shaking the hand of the professors who wrote my University textbooks. Now that I look back at these past ten weeks, I feel very lucky. I couldn’t have asked for a better training in my quest to become a scientist.
Jeetayu Biwas with Dr. Darryl Pappin
The program at Cold Spring Harbor allowed me to delve into a summer project surrounded by talented students, faculty and fellow URPs. My research project was fast paced, productive and eye opening. It challenged me to think critically about my own work as well as material that was completely new to me. I found myself learning about new experimental approaches in bioinformatics and mass spectrometry. By working under Dr. Pappin I was fortunate enough to learn about mass spectrometry from someone that was so fundamental to the technique’s development.The campus was very welcoming and the program allowed me the opportunity to discuss research with faculty and visiting scientists. I also found myself learning about new developments in neuroscience, computational biology and genetics through conversations with my fellow URPs. Yes the science and the work was great, but the friendships that came out of the summer will be unforgettable.The fast pace of research, the high caliber faculty, and the overall immersion into scientific research makes Cold Spring Harbor a perfect place for budding scientists. The summer was eye-opening and by far my most productive.
Francesca Aloisio with Dr. Gregory Hannon
When I arrived at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I immediately felt so much potential surrounding me. The beautiful campus of hiking trails, volleyball courts, and beaches just waiting to be explored. The cutting-edge research taking place all around me, with discovery just around the corner. The other URPs introducing themselves, eager to build friendships that would eventually define what easily became the best summer of my life. My URP summer was filled with weekends spent exploring both the breathtaking natural beauty of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory campus as well as the fascinating happenings in nearby New York City, and weekdays spent working on an exciting project in a world-class laboratory. Everyday life as I both worked and played alongside my fellow URPs resulted in relationships that I will cherish forever, while daily lab experience and captivating faculty talks resulted in a sense of confidence that science is what I want to do with my life. As I leave Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I can still feel that potential: I have made friendships that will last a lifetime, and I cannot wait to get started with my career in science.
Emily Glassberg with Dr. Alexander Krasnitz
I believe that the most valuable part of my summer experience here at Cold Spring Harbor has been the connections I have formed with both my advisors and my peers. Being closely engaged with the incredible faculty here has exposed me to a wide range of interesting topics of inquiry as well as new ways of approaching these diverse problems. Everyone we met was excited to share their experiences with us, taking time to answer all of our questions about their research as well as about their lives as scientists and the paths that led them to their current careers. Also, working alongside such a talented and dedicated group of undergraduates has been truly inspiring. I can’t overstate how much I gained from having a close-knit set of friends to help me through when work got tough and to celebrate with me when things went right. Whether we were talking through our projects at dinner, exploring New York City, or just goofing around in the cabins, it was always a blast. I know the relationships I formed this summer will stick with me in both my professional and personal life.
Julian Homburger with Dr. Mickey Atwal
My time at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has been both educational and enjoyable. I learned a huge amount from working in Dr. Atwal’s laboratory and gained extremely useful hands on experience. Cold Spring Harbor is a wonderful environment to work. One of my favorite things about the lab is its collegial and friendly culture—I always felt welcome and people were always more than willing to spend time discussing science. The summer was not just about work; I enjoyed spending the summer with other undergraduates who share my passion for research. All in all, I had a wonderful time at Cold Spring Harbor and would recommend it to anyone interested in spending summer learning about biology and research.
URP 2012 with Dr. Adam Kepecs
There’s something unique about CSHL: it groups like-minded people together. Similar labs are housed in similar buildings. As a member of the Kepecs lab working in the Marks building, I found myself discussing my project and receiving help from all the labs there: Kepecs, Zador, Churchland and Albeanu. All of these labs study systems neuroscience and so there is always someone around to give you a new perspective on something or help you out with something that your supervisor might not be an expert in. There really is an atmosphere for collaboration. You also spend your summer living with all the URP students. Everyone’s majoring in slightly different subjects; when you have a stats problem you can go and ask the stats major, and the compsci majors always have ten different solutions to your computer problems. However, this is not the only feature that makes CSHL unique. You can also attend the world-famous meetings and courses. Here, you can meet the experts in your particular specialism and be the first to find out what’s hot in research. Or you can go and learn about a completely different specialism and find yourself in the difficult position of wanting to study that too. Either way, you can expect to learn a lot at CSHL and to receive plenty of inspiration for your future research.
Hannah Gendelman with Dr. Glenn Turner
My summer at Cold Spring Harbor was different from my earlier research experiences because it was the first time that I have had the opportunity to spend time on a campus that revolves entirely around scientific research. Being in a place that values innovation and creative thinking for the pursuit of scientific knowledge, as well as going to lectures and seeing the wealth of different approaches to projects that labs have taken here has not only introduced me to a whole world of techniques and fields but also shown me how to think through a problem and explore new possible solutions. The URP experience for me was about learning how to do science; the focus wasn’t on pushing through new protocols to produce the most data I could, instead it was about thinking through the result I was looking for and evaluating adjustments that might help me get there. That lesson in constant reexamination and tweaking showed me what designing an experiment and putting together a body of data are all about. I think that the ideas I was exposed to and the techniques I have learned will prepare me for further explorations into the world of research; my mentors’ and peers’ enthusiasm for their work encourages me to pursue my own career in biological research.
Victoria Hanna with Dr. Marja Timermans
My summer at Cold Spring Harbor in the URP program was easily the best summer experience I’ve ever had. My daytime hours were spent in a lab learning new techniques and working on getting data for a project that I was extremely excited about. The evenings and weekends were spent with the other URPs, who quickly became my summer family. We saw Broadway shows, went kayaking, saw movies on their premiere night, played lots of volleyball, and became a close-knit group. If you’re passionate about science and want to be pushed to reach your full potential, this program is a great match.
Zach Collins with Dr. Partha Mitra
My summer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, as part of the undergraduate research program was more than I ever could have hoped for. I was challenged to learn how to solve problems and think critically in a biological research context, and truly gained a deep practical understanding of this research field. In the Mitra laboratory group, I gained skills that will fundamentally shape my approach to future research ranging from computational data analysis to track tracing in mouse models, tissue processing and confocal microscopy. Outside of lab we were provided with over a dozen lectures from the most cutting edge biological researchers working today, giving us insight into different disciplines and context for our own research. This summer solidified that I want to pursue a career in biological research, and provided me the skills and understanding to do so.
Katharine Dusenbury with Dr. Darryl Pappin
One of the best things about spending the summer at CSHL is how accessible it makes absolutely amazing opportunities. Whether it’s the technology in the labs; the brilliant scientists that work at and visit Cold Spring Harbor; or simply the fact that one’s research is never too far away, this program, of course, excels at teaching one how to do good science. Almost more importantly, however, a summer at CSHL makes accessible some of the best conversations I have ever had. With my PI, visiting scientists, and, especially, with my fellow URPs, I have not only discussed research, but also music, travel, life, you name it. From these conversations I am leaving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory more confident in who I am as a person and more sure of my direction in life, including my decision to eventually pursue a Ph.D.
Mitchell Leibowitz with Dr. Richard McCombie
My summer as an URP was sensational. The program was a great mixture of work and fun, networking and collaborating, and doing renowned science all within a campus that is only comparable to Eden in its beauty. Working in the McCombie Laboratory I was able to become one of the first people in the world to sequence DNA in real time, gaining great insight into a field that is currently emerging as the future of medicine. After lab I would come home to the cabins only to learn that my peers were having just as exciting an experience as I, carrying on ground-breaking studies in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and other exciting fields. On nights and weekends we were able to travel to New York City, meet world-famous scientists (such as Dr. James Watson and Dr. Bruce Stillman), kayak, play volleyball and relax, all while knowing that we had become a part of the scientific Mecca that is Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Brittany Haugen with Dr. Alea Mills
The URP program was a summer to remember. I was able to learn and grow in a totally immersive scientific experience where I lived and breathed science for ten weeks. I learned new lab techniques, how to work independently, how to think critically, and how to perform real science side by side with top notch scientists. Here at CSHL you are treated like a colleague, not just an intern. I’ve made friends and professional contacts that I know will last well into my scientific career. Thanks to CSHL I’ve grown so much as a scientist in the way I think about and handle biological questions and techniques.
Ann-Desdemonia Fowajuh with Dr. Grigori Enikolopov
My time spent at CSHL was exceptional. In ten weeks, I had many experiences many people don’t ever get the opportunity to. Besides conducting research with scientists who are experts in their field, we are introduced to the research of other scientists on campus, have dinner with The Watsons and Stillmans and network with other graduate students on campus. Everyone is friendly and welcoming at CSHL. Upon my arrival I had zero skills in neuroscience, but by the end of the summer, I had learned many techniques and skills and was able to carry out experiments that very few scientist do today! The URPs were all great, and were from so many different places which created a diverse environment and unique experiences. I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to future scientists who want to learn how to think critically, communicate efficiently and learn great science!
Tiffany Coupet with Dr. Scott Powers
My experience at CSHL as an URP was amazing. I learned so many lab techniques and skills, such as cell culture, transfection and infection. I work in a yeast telomerase lab in the JHU Biology Department so it was something new that I’ve never done before. I also met so many wonderful; people who really loved science and loved to talk about science. The URPs were from so many different universities and countries and brought different sets of expertise with them. More often then not we asked each what we had done that day in lab, sometimes offering advice or just learning about other techniques. I enjoyed the faculty talks on Fridays because the faculty was really knowledgeable and interesting.
Martin Fan with Dr. Adrian Krainer
CSHL was such an immersive environment – I felt almost as if I were traveling to a new country to learn the culture of science. I experienced firsthand how science was really done, and left knowing that I would have a completely different perspective when reading scientific papers, or even my textbooks.
Robert Aboukhalil with Dr. Mickey Atwal
Ten weeks may sound like a lot, but my time at CSHL passed by quicker than it takes a chipmunk to cross the road. I would recommend this program to anyone looking for an exhilarating and intellectually challenging summer, crammed with fun activities and the opportunity to engage with other passionate scientists in the making.
Tim Wang with Dr. Scott Powers
Since I had performed little scientific research before I had applied to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Undergraduate Research Program, I was overjoyed and somewhat surprised when I was notified that I would be an URP for the summer. Luckily, I was paired with a patient and knowledgeable post-doctoral fellow in the Powers Lab who taught me every laboratory technique that was needed. During my ten week training, we investigated the epigenomics of liver cancer but far more insight was gleaned outside of the lab. While extremely valuable and interesting, learning the actual laboratory skills and being in a world-class molecular biology research institute was not what made my summer at Cold Spring Harbor so memorable. What I found to be even enjoyable was the chance to share the experience with others who were just as enthusiastic as I was about research. The lively discussions I shared with my peers and my mentors about our ongoing projects, our plans for the future, our daily mishaps and our common love of science were ones I will never forget. By the end of the program, I developed a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the messy and often imperfect practice of science to supplement the simple, elegant theories I had learned in my classroom lectures at Berkeley. All in all, I loved my summer of exploration, discovery and growth as an URP!
Lisa Lam with Dr. Rob Martienssen
Having taken most of my classes in the chemistry department, I was very excited about a summer opportunity to experience cutting-edge research in genetics and molecular biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. I worked with a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Rob Martienssen, where my project focused on silencing at the mating-type locus in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Throughout the ten weeks, I developed an appreciation for the intense yeast genetics and new lab techniques I acquired while getting familiar with the epigenetic field. I quickly began to realize how lucky I was to be part of the fostering research setting at Cold Spring Harbor, where everyone knew me as an URP and postdocs and graduate students were always willing to guide me. Cold Spring Harbor attracts scientists from all over the world, so I was lucky to meet researchers from diverse backgrounds, including participants in the meetings and courses. I was also able to learn about research taking place within the Cold Spring Harbor campus through the weekly URP seminars given by faculty, as well as research at other distinguished institutions through attendance at some of the meetings and courses talks.I was also very glad to meet other undergraduate scientists in the program who were just as excited and passionate about science to spend a summer at “research camp.” Unlike back at school, I never had to worry about what people would think when I told them I was going back to lab after dinner or on weekends. Aside from the intense research aspect, we did enjoy our time in Cold Spring Harbor by kayaking, playing sand volleyball, and late night socializing in the cabins. We also went to NYC for a Broadway show, museums, dining, shopping and major tourist attractions. I came out of the program having a thorough understanding of the difficult but rewarding life as a scientist and having met over a dozen talented young scientists whom I hope to cross paths with later on in my scientific career. I could not have asked for more of a fun and exciting way to spend my last summer as an undergraduate.
Marcela Carmona with Dr. Marja Timmermans
Although I had been working in a lab since freshman year and had taken many biology courses, I was extremely anxious when I arrived at Cold Spring Harbor Lab. I knew that I would be spending my summer working at Dr. Timmermans’s lab whose research focuses on plant development. This, ironically, was one area of biology to which I had very little exposure. However, all my fear and anxiety quickly subsided. The lab was very welcoming, and I could not have asked for a better mentor. Dr. Aman Husbands, a post doc in the lab, very patiently guided me and taught me new techniques, but also gave me independence in developing my project.Soon I began to feel at home. I fell in love with the environment at Cold Spring Harbor which brings so many talented and passionate biologist together. I looked forward to the Friday faculty talks, and the many events which allowed me to meet these incredible researchers. My experience was further complemented by having the opportunity to get to know my fellow URPs. I will always remember our endless discussions about our projects, our common hopes and fears about our future in science, and, of course, our volleyball games.My summer as an URP was extremely rewarding. Not only did I learn an immense amount, but the experience solidified my goal to become a researcher and fostered my love for the field. It was a truly unforgettable summer.
Debbie Goodman with Dr. Greg Hannon
The summer I spent at CSHL was definitely one of the most memorable summers I have ever had. Being an URP allowed me to really understand what being scientist is like, both professionally and socially. The research I did in Dr. Greg Hannon’s lab was cutting edge. Not only did I participate in designing my experiment but I also presented my work in front of my peers and participated in lab meetings as well as discussions at the bar with graduate students, post-docs and PIs. My experience truly made me feel as if I was an equal and important member of the lab. I learned about the hard work and many hours that research involves and truly admired the persistence and dedication that all the scientists around me had. The other URPs I met in the program also really inspired me for their passion, dedication and intelligence. Living in beautiful cabins on campus, we spent a lot of quality time together and learned a lot from one another. We spent weekends in NYC exploring and some weeknights in Huntington at the movies or starbucks. There was also so much to do on campus and so many amazing events already organized for us. We went sailboating and kayaking as well as swimming in the lake. We went to dinner at Dr. James Watson’s house as well as the president of the lab, Dr. Bruce Stillman’s house. We had weekly talks given by one of the professors in the lab about their research and even had professors from other universities come to speak to us. It was a summer that I will never forget and definitely one of the best decisions I made to decide to participate in CSHL URP.
Katie Washington with Dr. Raffaella Sordella
As a participant in the 2009 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program (CSHL-URP), I conducted an independent research project under the guidance of Dr. Raffaella Sordella. In hopes of developing more effective treatments for lung cancer, Dr. Sordella and the members of her lab are working to determine the roles of various cell-signaling pathways in the development and maintenance of lung tumors. Recently, Dr. Sordella and other collaborating scientists demonstrated that some lung tumors were dependent on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its downstream signaling cascades. By treating patients with a drug called gefitinib, the scientists inhibited EGFR, and substantially reduced the tumors.During my time at Cold Spring Harbor, I had the opportunity to ask Dr. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the double helical structure of DNA and former director and president of CSHL, what advice he had for an aspiring scientist like me. He told me to do what excites me. This summer, the CSHL-URP has given me the opportunity to do just that. My experience at CSHL this summer helped me to solidify my plans to incorporate both clinical medicine and medical research into my life’s work. In the fall of 2010, I hope to matriculate into a combined MD/PhD program in search of unconventional solutions to challenging and exciting problems in modern medicine.
Daniel Kim with Dr. Adam Kepecs
To say that being an URP at CSHL was a great experience would be an understatement. I was an URP in Adam Kepecs’ lab working in neuroscience, specifically studying theta brain waves using newly developed genetic and optical technology. Adam’s lab was pushing the boundaries of neuroscience and to be directly involved in that was all together challenging, intellectually stimulating, and a significant learning experience. Further, we were given bioinformatics workshops, could attend any meeting or course for free, and was fortunate enough to hear from not only CSHL faculty but from other prominent labs about their cutting edge research.While the lab was exciting, it was everything else about CSHL that also made me fall in love with the URP program. The atmosphere at CSHL is at the same time laid back but everyone works very hard and loves being there. I would go to the bar and PIs, assistant professors, postdocs, and URPs would be bouncing research ideas off each other. During these discussions, I often found new ways to look at problems I was having in my research and learn about the exciting research others were doing. There was no shortage of activities to do, from sailing, ultimate frisbee, beach volleyball (first URP class ever to beat the faculty in the annual URP vs. Faculty game), and tennis…I even was fortunate enough to play with Jim Watson. Through it all though, it was the other URPs that made the experience unique and exceptional. The other members in my class represented a diverse group, with even some international students. We all shared a passion for science but the experiences, expertise, and interests that everyone brought could not have been more different. Leaving CSHL was one of the hardest things I had to do. I could not think of a more worthwhile endeavor to participate in and this is an experience I can safely say that I will never forget.
Forrest Ray with Dr. Alea Mills
Spending ten weeks surrounded by people who shared my curiosity for science was an incredible experience. That sense of shared curiosity and excitement also made the long hours we would often work in the lab truly enjoyable. Not only were the people I worked with in my lab experienced and knowledgeable in their particular subject matters, but most importantly they were able to clearly help me to learn how science is done; how experiments are planned and executed, how data can be interpreted and how to use available resources to look for answers to questions. It was imposing to walk into the lab on the first day and be handed a project, but by the end of the program I felt that I had learned much more than I could have in any classroom. My summer at Cold Spring Harbor served to fuel my passion for science and helped me to grow as a scientist. Both difficult and unique, it is an experience that I would urge anyone to seek.
Tziziki Lemus with Dr. Doreen Ware
The summer I spent at Cold Spring Harbor has been one of the best things I ever done. This unique experience allowed me to learn about many different fields in science, known and interact with remarkable researches and peers, discovered new aspects of myself, and improved my volleyball skills.During this period I worked in Doreen Ware’s lab in one of my favorite topics: evolution. I enjoyed the time I spent in the lab and with the other lab members, along with the challenges of the project. I was delighted not only with the program’s intense research experience, but also with the multiple social and fun activities, like expeditions to New York City and the talk and dinner with James Watson. In addition, the scientific environment of CSHL totally immersed me in a world where everybody loves their work, and where interesting discussions are held in almost every corner of the campus. It is impossible to be here without strengthening your passion for science and be exposed to new ideas and ways to approach scientific problems.From the first class research, excellent faculty talks, to making very good friends and having useful bioinformatics workshops, the Undergraduate Research Program is a one-time life experience that everybody should live. I feel fortunate to have participated.
Olga Minkina with Dr. Marja Timmermans
In the summer of 2008, I worked in Dr. Marja Timmermans’ laboratory studying adaxial-abaxial leaf polarity at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Although I had worked in a laboratory for two years before coming to CSHL, I had never worked in a laboratory full-time. Over the next ten weeks, I developed valuable skills that I will undoubtedly use in the future—in addition to learning a great deal of laboratory techniques, I learned how to effectively present my research, and think critically about other people’s research. As the summer progressed, I found that I really enjoyed the challenge of conducting research in the lab.From the moment I arrived at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I was immersed in science and aware of the incredible history of scientific pursuit that occurred at CSHL over the years, making for a very interesting and unique summer experience. In addition to working in the laboratories, participants in the Undergraduate Research Program also attended lectures by faculty members. Although I worked in a plant lab, I heard talks by neuroscientists, biochemists, and bioinformaticians that broadened my knowledge of research in many areas of biology. In addition to these lectures, I attended several lectures in a plants course that perfectly complemented my research. I know that the research I did this summer and my overall experience at CSHL will change the way that I approach the study of biology, both in the laboratory and in the classroom. Of course, the friendships I formed with the other URPs made the summer even more enjoyable. My time at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was absolutely incredible—I cannot think of a better way to have spent my summer!
Colleen Carlston with Dr. Josh Dubnau
I almost didn’t apply to be an URP because I’d heard stories of extremely qualified students who didn’t get in and I figured I didn’t stand a chance. But I’m so glad I did since it was the most amazing summer I think I’ve ever had. Everyone in the Dubnau lab was so interesting that even when my drosophila RNA extraction experiments weren’t going particularly well I still wanted to be in lab just so that I could learn from them. Most importantly they encouraged me that I was capable of pursuing a career in science, with all its ups and down. It is such a close-knit community at CSHL that I never felt isolated despite the beautiful natural surroundings. It was a privilege as well to interact with the other undergraduates on the program, who without exception were intelligent and engaged with their research. I feel so fortunate to have spent this time at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and I will miss the people I got to know there.
Yesenia Correa with Dr. Scott Powers
People have asked me what my experience at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was like and every time I answer I don’t feel that I have expressed how great it was. I was an URP in Dr. Scott Powers’ lab working in cancer biology, with a focus on the effect of the PPARG pathway in liver cancer. Everyone that I worked with, in the Powers’ lab and at the Woodbury Genome Center, was very helpful and willing to explain things to me. Not only was I able to fully immerse myself in ground breaking research, I was able to participate in bioinformatics workshops, as well as talks and social gatherings with world-renowned scientists. The seminars and social gatherings made it possible to interact with scientists in a small group environment and obtain a better understanding of current research in different fields. I have also had the opportunity to live and work with peers that are equally excited about biological sciences. Through this experience I have been able to develop friendships that I can honestly say will last a lifetime. My involvement at CSHL was a unique experience, because this campus is unlike any others that I have encountered. Everyone here is so enthusiastic about biological science that I could not help but have the same mindset. I encourage anyone to apply for this program and advise them to be ready for a very busy and exciting summer.
Allison Baker with Dr. Tony Zador
Immediately upon arriving at the start of my URP summer, I was astounded by the ongoing intellectual exchanges taking place among graduate students, post-docs, and faculty. Unlike most other institutions, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory cultivates an environment in which students, post-docs, and faculty interact constantly.The unique intellectual environment at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped how I think about scientific issues. After spending three years at a small liberal arts university in which Government and Economics are two of the most popular majors, it was a gift to be surrounded by people who share my passion for science.As an URP, I worked in Tony Zador’s lab researching the neural circuits involved in attention in rodents. Being immersed in and devoted to my project reinforced my passion for neuroscience and honed my interests in systems neuroscience. Having some freedom in my decisions about experimental design and data analysis was a unique and rewarding experience. Equally rewarding were my interactions with other members of the lab and with Tony Zador, which were intellectually stimulating and challenging but also humorous and enjoyable. It was a great feeling to go into the lab each day excited about my research and about spending time with the members of Zador Lab.My experience as an URP truly surpassed my expectations. Perhaps more than anything, I value the friendships I formed with fellow URPs, graduate students, post-docs. These undoubtedly will continue to influence my life both personally and professionally.
Jonathan Geisinger with Dr. Bill Tansey
Some people view a vacation as a break from work. I spent my summer as part of the Undergraduate Research Program, which, despite the amount of work involved, was a vacation for me. I liked being a part of this program and working with yeast in Dr. Bill Tansey’s lab studying ubiquitin ligases. In the lab, I learned how to plan out experiments and how to troubleshoot protocols. Outside of the lab, I played a lot of volleyball and went to movies with the other URPs. I also was given the chance to attend various seminars and meetings that were held at CSHL during the program.The other scientists at CSHL I met were all very interesting people. Through the program, I was given the chance to hear many different perspectives on and approaches to science. Some of the PIs gave us lectures about their work while I learned about other perspectives simply by talking to people. At lunch and dinner, I learned about the other URPs’ perspectives on science. In addition, everyone was very friendly and usually invited the URPs to participate in their activities. In fact, the graduate students were instrumental in coaching the URPs to victory over the faculty in volleyball.This past summer is among my favorites. I spent three months doing research in beautiful place filled with interesting people that enjoy what they do. I would definitely recommend the Undergraduate Research Program to other undergraduates. Not many people can say that they actually get to take a three-month vacation, but since I was part of the program, I count myself fortunate to be part of that group.
Anna Gilman with Dr. Scott Lowe
My summer at Cold Spring Harbor might have been the best I’ve ever had. I spent the two previous summers doing research, but those experiences pale in comparison to my summer as an URP. Living among scientists allowed me to delve deeply into my project, to learn about cancer biology, and to become dedicated to it, all in ten short weeks. I came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a college student interested in science, but I left as a scientist, partly because I had given two scientific talks and written a paper summarizing my research, but mostly because I was treated like a scientist. And, of course, I met great people along the way, both among my fellow URPs as well as in the Lowe lab, who taught me that it is possible to be a serious scientist and a fun, charismatic person at the same time.
Erin Jimenez with Dr. David Jackson
Being an “URP” at CSHL was an extraordinary and unique opportunity. I had the pleasure to work in Dr. Dave Jackson’s laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Robyn Johnston to investigate phyllotaxy, the specific geometric arrangement of leaves and flowers around the plant stem. I investigated maize mutants with altered phyllotaxy to better understand the mechanisms controlling leaf initiation. Working in Dr. Dave Jackson’s laboratory challenged me to think about the scientific process in a very different perspective. For the past year I have studied mitochondrial protein import in yeast at UCLA. Coming from a lab using a different model system and different techniques, I was thrown out of my element. I had to learn and master techniques I never used before quickly. I immersed myself into my project desiring to learn every aspect of it. From the very beginning, my post-doc gave me the independence to make her project my own. Finding myself like a real scientist, I designed elegant experiments to find the answers to my questions. Working in a plant biology lab was extremely challenging and at times frustrating. CSHL and Dr. Dave Jackson challenged me to become more self-reliant and assimilate the knowledge my project demanded in a short amount of time.
I had the opportunity to meet other passionate student researchers from different universities around the world and discuss what it was like to be a young scientist. We gathered weekly to hear faculty discuss their research and had the opportunity to exchange ideas. Our weekly meetings refined my public speaking skills and challenged my intellectual development as a critical thinker.In addition to gaining new insights in the laboratory, I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with the URPs. The URPs made my summer extra memorable and I miss them tremendously. I will never forget all the laughs we shared, venting, and even volleyball.Participating in the undergraduate research program at CSHL was a privilege and a part of my life that I will always be proud of.
Cindy Puente with Dr. Alea Mills
Attending the Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor was a sound investment in my future. As a student of molecular genetics and a zealous for cancer genomics, CSHL was the ideal place for a summer internship. I worked in Dr. Alea Mills laboratory and had the pleasure of working with the scientists who discovered a novel tumor suppressor, CHD5, that had remained elusive for 30 years. In fact, my project involved evaluating the endogenous expression levels of CHD5 in various transformed human cell lines. In working on my project, I was able to learn an array of classic techniques, such as western blotting, immunofluorescence, tissue culture, mRNA extraction, rt-PCR and PCR. I am very excited to have these techniques in my repertoire because I know that I can utilize them in the laboratory which I am doing my undergraduate research.Another aspect of the program that I appreciated was the Bioinformatics seminars. The workshop surveyed important bioinformatics tools that are available for data analysis and research purposes. In fact, with the knowledge that I gained, I was able to design two sets of human CHD5 primers (the first in the lab), which can later be used for quantitative analyses.I did some intense learning in CSHL but to make up for it, I had a lot of fun. Everyone in the program was very amicable, allowing for friendships to be made very easily. We watched movies, went to the beach at night, visited the near by towns, scavenged the City and played volleyball. One of the most exciting benefits of the program was meeting Jim Watson. It was really fun and exciting to meet someone who has had such a profound impact in science.In general, my experience at CSHL was exceptional. I loved it for its panorama, people and history.
Vicky Zhou with Dr. Lincoln Stein
My summer as an URP at CSHL was a truly defining experience. From attending weekly faculty talks to giving my own talks, and from auditing seminars in the Gene Expression course to competing against that course’s team in the annual Plate Race, I discovered that I really feel at home in a dynamic research environment. From barbequing with graduate students to dining with renowned scientists, and from sailing in the lab’s “Double Helix” sailboat to climbing the Double Helix sculpture, I found that I thoroughly enjoy living and playing with scientists. I now know, more than ever, that I want to be a scientist.The program gave me everything an aspiring scientist could want. I learned skills in bioinformatics from both my project and weekly workshops. Although I had no practical programming experience beforehand, I was able to create a new visualization interface for WormBase, the online database for C. elegans. I gained advice and insight about applying to graduate schools and pursuing a scientific career from some of the leading scientists of the world. Finally, I bonded with a support group of 23 other URPs who share the same interests and goals. I believe that I am now well-equipped to pursue the next stage of my scientific training. I cannot imagine a more worthwhile—and fun!—summer as the one I spent as an URP.
Oleg Dmytrenko with Dr. David Jackson
I came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the Undergraduate Research Program with a solid background in microbiology, biochemistry, and cell biology. I came with a lot of confidence. My summer project, it turned out, was mapping a gene in Arabidopsis thaliana. I had never before worked with plants, neither done positional cloning, nor dealt with Mendelian genetics. This project was not anymore a test of my knowledge as it used to be back at the university. It became a test of my ability to think and to work like a scientist, a test to find out whether science is what I really want to do for life. I knew that following lab manuals and textbooks would no longer be enough to get me through.After ten weeks of intense work I have, it seems, discovered the gene. Along the way I have also discovered that science is much more exciting than what I ever learnt from textbooks. What is more, it was not thanks to the lab manuals that I succeeded. I got through only because I realized that nobody could help me better than myself. Because I kept my mind open and my focus narrow. Because I learned that the correct answers were usually the simplest ones. I am very grateful for the Watson School of Biological Scientists for granting me this unique opportunity.
Keisha John with Dr. Holly Cline
There are many reasons why I enjoyed my URP experience at CSHL. First the participants were from all over the world, making for a very diverse learning experience. Also the scientists at the Lab are really excited about science, a trait that is very contagious and makes the working environment all the more rewarding. In addition everyone is very friendly and welcoming, from the first day I felt like I was part of the Lab and not just a summer visitor. The location is also excellent, enabling me to participate in many non-science activities, from Sunday night movies, shopping at outlet malls, or a night in the city at the theater and seeing my favorite artist in concert. I enjoyed my time at CSHL so much so that I am returning as a graduate student in the Watson School of Biological Sciences. I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking for a unique and exciting summer experience that will facilitate both scientific and personal growth.
Galen Collins with Dr. Marja Timmermans
One of the most important parts about being an URP at CSHL was the chance to learn what it meant to be a biologist. When I started, I thought that I liked research, but I had only limited exposure to it. By the time that I had finished at CSHL that summer, I had a much better sense of what it meant to do biology – I had lived it and I had lived with others who lived it. The research done at CSHL is exciting, and I learned a lot from the presentations that different laboratory groups gave. The lab I worked in was very good, with my research mentor spending enough time to ensure that I could understand the project beyond just the procedural steps to where this work fitted in to broader picture of biology. At the bench itself, other members of the lab worked to teach tips for better experimental success through both the design and the execution of the experiments. I was very fortunate to be working in one of the same buildings that the courses were held in because I was thereby exposed to a lot of special speakers and also the students (who are often postdocs or young professors just starting the lab). This was a great way to become exposed to exciting ideas, and different ways that science is done at other places. Finally, I learned a lot from my fellow URPS: excitement in sharing the latest results, commiseration over strings of failed experiments, parties, volleyball, or sailing.
Hiroki Asari with Dr. Masaaki Hamaguchi
The summer of 2002 turned out to be a major milestone in my life so far. I was so impressed with life as an ‘URP’ at CSHL, and it was this experience that made me decide to return here as a graduate student. One of the great things about the UPR program was that the students were internationally diverse with various backgrounds. Because we lived together in the cabins on campus, we quickly got to know each other very well and I learned a lot from my fellow URPs as well as the PIs from sharing our exciting research experiences, ideas, and the results. Another good thing was that the Lab is isolated from the bustle of the city. We can sit back in a quiet and calm environment or stroll through the Lab grounds thinking about science and come up with some new creative ideas. Finally, in addition to science, I also enjoyed the social activities: movies in Huntington Village, Broadway shows and great museums in Manhattan, and so on. CSHL offers a perfect environment to enjoy both science and life. As a result, I strongly recommend the URP program to all students who are interested in science and want to experience a summer among scientists.
Chuck Kopec with Dr. Rob Martienssen
The summer of 2000, between my junior and senior years at Rutgers University, I spent as an URP in the lab of Dr. Rob Martienssen. Not knowing what to expect from the program, and with only a few months research experience, I went into that summer with an open mind and an excitement to learn. The URP program turned out to provide everything I could have hoped for and more. First and foremost was the cutting edge research being conducted at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in which all URPs participate. The resources available to you far surpass most large universities, while still maintaining the friendly atmosphere of a small research institute. With PIs and postdocs willing to take the time to teach me the bench techniques I needed for my project, I came away with invaluable skills I was able to apply to my undergraduate thesis project. I still carry those skills with me as I enter my fourth year at the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Finally though, it was the other URPs that made the summer so memorable. From evening social events to sailing on the weekends, that was a summer I will not soon forget.
Gowan Tervo with Dr. Tony Zador
As an undergraduate from Oxford University, without laboratory experience and an emerging interest in neuroscience, I was thrilled to be accepted to the URP program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the summer of 2000. For three months, I studied audition in Tony Zador’s laboratory. We examined the hypothesis that the action potentials of single auditory cortical neurons represent pitch, the set of harmonic tones that make-up a note. Tony, an excellent postdoc, Michael DeWeese, and I set out to test this idea: we built the necessary equipment, designed the experiment, and wrote the necessary software to execute the experiment and to analyze our results.After three months in this intense environment, it was difficult to leave Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The lifestyle at the lab immerses you in your work. As an URP, I enjoyed walking down to the beach from the Zador lab between experiments to listen to many birds; an activity that was important to me at the time because of the focus of my research. After each afternoon’s experiments, I had the pleasure of having dinner with the many scientists in Marks building. During these dinner-time discussions in Blackford dining hall I learned as much neuroscience as I had learned by focused study in my previous neuroscience course at Oxford. The combination of the natural beauty of the laboratory, the frenetic pace of research and the close interaction with my colleagues is the reason that I am here today as a graduate student in the Watson School of Biological Sciences.
Despina Siolas with Dr. Greg Hannon
My summer in the URP program fostered my development as a scientist in an environment that also contributed to my personal growth. I had the opportunity to participate in post-graduate CSH courses, hear lectures by world-renown scientists and explore biology in a lab where I worked one and one with my professor. I was also able to participate in lab sponsored social activities such as sailing and beach volleyball. My undergraduate colleagues and I bonded through our summer and formed a social support system that helped us through the trials and tribulations of graduating college and applying to graduate schools. Our bond has continued to this day where we see each other at professional conferences and seminars.
Elizabeth Thomas with Dr. Adrian Krainer
In the summer of 1997, I was an URP at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. I worked in Adrian Krainer’s lab in Demerec, running countless splicing assays and writing a web page. What I enjoyed about that summer was the sense of scientific community. Everybody at CSHL felt passionate about biology. This common thread ran through all of the Lab’s functions. The Lab is isolated, an entity unto itself. It felt like a summer camp for scientists æ with its concentration of brilliant people, all tremendously excited about their studies, all living and working in a small area.Yet another characteristic of CSHL is its unique place in the history of molecular biology. I did my undergraduate research on bacteriophage T4. It feels “right” somehow to return for my graduate work to the site of the historic phage course. The opening of the Watson School of Biological Sciences was another historical event at this historical place.Along with its unusual characteristics, CSHL also excels in traditional areas. The research is excellent and exciting. The environment of the lab is wonderful, and I enjoyed the same sense of community during my graduate studies that I experienced as an URP. In short, I am exceedingly happy to be among the first class of graduates at CSHL’s Watson School of Biological Sciences.