On August 12, 2022, the annual Meetings & Courses Plate Race returned to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A crowd gathered around the 200m relay race course to cheer on friends and colleagues. The summer sun was shining and warm air carried the stinky scent of old yeast agar plates, saved to use in the race from CSHL summer course experiments.
“The Plate Race started in the early ’80s as a contest between two summer courses—the Gene Expression course and the Yeast Genetics course,” David Stewart, executive director of the Meetings & Courses Program and race officiant, says. “It’s a way of building camaraderie within the courses. They’ve come from different places around the world, and they’re doing a lot of science. It’s a fun way to blow off steam.”
The race featured teams from three of the 21 laboratory courses held at CSHL in 2022. The Yeast Genetics & Genomics team faced off against longtime rivals from Chromatin, Epigenetics & Gene Expression. These two contenders battled Imaging Structure & Function in the Nervous System and a special guest team from CSHL’s The Delbrück Plant Labs.
Instead of passing a baton, each racer carries a wobbly stack of 40 yeast plates. If—or when—they drop their stack, runners must turn around, grab another stack, and start all over again. When the dropped plates and dust settled, the Chromatin, Epigenetics & Gene Expression team emerged victorious.