August 17, 2015, marks matriculation at the Watson School, the annual time of year when we have to remind ourselves what “matriculation” entails. This year, our research (about thirty seconds of googling) took us to its etymology: Latin matriculare “to register”, from matricula “public register”, from matrix “list, roll”. There’s also some confusing and perhaps confused, connection with “womb” and “mother” (Greek metra and meter, respectively). So it turns out, that pretty well sums up matriculation at the Watson School—the Latin origin, at least—the annual registration of our students. And especially our new first-year students, starting out on their graduate school adventure at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
This year, we welcome seven students to the School: Ben, Kristina, Matt, Katie, Ally, Sofya, and Tumi. They come with a range of research interests, from chromosome segregation to cognitive neuroscience. We again have a very international class, with six nationalities represented. In contrast to last year’s heavy dose of the University of Cambridge, this year we have students from the Universities of York, Bristol, and Edinburgh (in the UK) as well as one student who did, indeed, spend time at the University of Cambridge. We can’t seem to avoid it. The other first-years come from San Jose State, UMass Amherst, and Saint Anselm College (in the US) and Lomonosov Moscow State University (in Russia).
This year, matriculation is taking place in 95°F temperatures with what feels like 95% humidity. Urey Cottage, home of the Watson School and thus hallowed site of the matriculation process, is being painted – with pungently fumey oil paint. It was also sprayed for hornets. The last time our incoming first-years were here, during the interview weeks in January and February, about six feet of snow covered the ground with more on the way. The students from the northeast ended up with cancelled flights and ersatz buses and any mess of trouble getting back home. The students from the UK found the snow fascinating and managed to construct a snowman. Our Russian student didn’t seem to notice anything was amiss.
And despite all that, here they are, matriculating.
So what’s next for our matriculated first-years? A lot of Blackford apples and brownies. The Eukaryotic mRNA Processing meeting wine and cheese. WSBS t-shirts. MacBooks and textbooks. Photo shoot. And as always, Watson School pens. Molecular and cell biology bootcamp. Python programming. Quantitative biology bootcamp. More pens? Then the start of the SRL, SEE, and SD courses, even if the students have long since forgotten what those initials stand for. (It’s Scientific Reasoning & Logic, Scientific Exposition & Ethics, and Specialized Disciplines.)
It’s the start of another year. Another great year. Another great class.
Salve discipuli! Enjoy the first year.