Tom Delmont, a postdoctoral scientist in the Bay Paul Center, traveled on an icebreaker to the Southern Ocean (the recently named ocean that includes the Earth’s southernmost waters) to explore microbial interactions and primary productivity. His trip yielded contributions to a recent paper in PNAS as well as a peaceful video reflecting the beauty of the Austral Summer.

A surge of adrenaline is carrying Rae Nishi of University of Vermont to her new position as the Burroughs Wellcome Director of Education at MBL, effective January 1. She writes:

“Normally, by the time I hit mile 4.0 of my 5.2 mile weekend run, I am feeling my aches and pains and wondering whether I will be able to finish; however, the day after I accepted the offer to be director of education at MBL, I felt different. I was running with my head up and a smile on my face. I maintained speed on the uphill portions and even managed to sprint the last 100 yards. That pretty much embodies my feelings about my new job. I am optimistic, energetic, and willing to push hard. I am very much looking forward to working with all the great people who are at MBL.”

Looking forward to your arrival, Dr. Nishi!


The magnificent research vessel Sorcerer II, owned by the J. Craig Venter Institute, arrived in Woods Hole this morning and picked up two scientists before setting out for the Gulf of Maine. They are Erik Zettler of Sea Education Association (SEA) and Keven Dooley, a SEA Semester alumnus and 2014 summer research intern at the MBL from Colorado College. The two scientists, along with the MBL’s Linda Amaral-Zettler, are collaborators on a project to discover and describe the microbial communities that live on microscopic bits of plastic debris in the ocean (known as the Plastisphere). They will be taking samples from the Gulf as well as conducting experiments during the cruise. The chief scientist on board is Amaral-Zettler’s colleague Chris Dupont, Assistant Professor in the Microbial and Environmental Genomics department at the J. Craig Venter Institute.


In “A Tribute to Oliver Sacks” today on NPR’s “Science Friday” program, MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon will be among the guests sharing memories of the famed neurologist, author, and polymath, who passed away last week. Sacks was a friend of Hanlon’s, a colleague in the study of sensory and behavioral biology, and “a lover of cephalopods (squid, octopus, and cuttlefish),” says Hanlon, whose studies these neurologically complex marine animals. Other of Sacks’ colleagues who will appear on the show include 2000 Nobel Prize Laureate Eric Kandel, University Professor at Columbia University and former MBL visiting investigator and faculty member in several neuroscience courses; and Sue Barry, Professor of Biological Sciences at Mt. Holyoke College and former director of the Grass Laboratory at MBL.

In Woods Hole, “Science Friday” will broadcast at 90.1 FM (WCAI) from 2:25 to 2:55 PM.

MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon, left, and the late Oliver Sacks, also a squid fan, in 2005.

MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon, left, and the late Oliver Sacks, also a squid fan, in 2005.


By Niteace Whittington
Whittington, from Philadelphia, PA, is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and took the 2015 SPINES course.

“Why are you here?” It is a question a faculty member posed on my first day at the MBL. At the time I had no answer. I never thought too deeply about what I did in life. I did not know what my ultimate goals were and certainly did not know how to bring them to fruition. I simply did the things I liked to do, but I did not know my purpose. During my month at the MBL, I was forced to address this question head-on, and I now have an answer thanks to the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics, and Survival (SPINES).

SPINES-NW-1SPINES is a four-week, intensive course held yearly at MBL. It focuses on enhancing under-represented minority students’ success in neuroscience through research, career development, mentoring and encouragement. I had previously attended programs with similar goals; so I assumed that I would learn about cool research, receive tips on career development, and part ways from the group as I had done before. I was not expecting to learn more about myself, make lifelong friends, and have concerned mentors to help map out my life goals. I really thought SPINES would be like any other course. I can honestly say that I am thrilled to find I was completely wrong!

It was one of the course’s co-directors, Jean King of University of Massachusetts Medical School, who asked us “Why are you here?” With this question she challenged us to explore and share our true selves, and assured us that we were not alone in our journeys. Hearing some of my classmates speak, I found that many of us were facing similar trials and some of us had lost our love for research. As I thought about my purpose a little longer, I had some ideas about what I wanted in life but realized I had no direction. Self-assessment revealed that I was not sure that I could actually get to where I wanted to go. According to several depressing statistics, I chose the wrong field for my race and gender: I have a lower likelihood of success because I am a black woman. For a while I let this dictate how far I could go in life.

However, my SPINES family made sure I would never think that way again. One of the most striking aspects of the course was that directors (King, Keith Trujillo of California State University San Marcos and Eddie Castañeda of University of Texas at El Paso) showed continuous love and support for our individual endeavors. They not only worked with us to build our knowledge in neuroscience, ethics, and career survival, but also helped build our confidence, discussed our goals and issues, and helped us develop methods to address these things in beneficial ways.


Throughout the SPINES course, in the midst of coursework reading, lab work, lectures and seminars, we did a lot of self-reflection and addressed our strengths and weaknesses in order to better map out who we are, what we want in life, and how to get there. In the course of one month, SPINES showed me that with the right tools I can do anything I aspire to do, as long as I believe in myself and my capabilities. On the last day, we took time to visualize a goal or dream that we wanted to achieve. And for the first time, I actually saw myself running my own lab and performing award-winning research. SPINES gave me confidence to walk down this road that I envisioned as unpassable. So why am I here? I am here because I have a job to do. Thank you, SPINES!

« Previous PageNext Page »