Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ten Things I Love About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

I know. They have gotten a bit of negative publicity recently. But CSHL is a great place. Here are some reasons.

  1. Dolan DNA Learning Center. A pioneer in many aspects of biotechnology and genomics education.
  2. Banbury Center. Just on the other side of the harbor from the main lab. The Banbury Campus is a truly spectacular place to hang out. I would know. I must have gone there a dozen times while working on my textbook. It has great places to walk to, like down a big hill to a secluded beach. And it is always peaceful and pleasant.

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  3. The main campus. Also a very pleasant place to hang out. Not quite as nice maybe as Banbury, but still very peaceful and conducive to science.
  4. Meetings and Courses. They have quite a collection of well known meetings and courses. Personally, I have a place near and dear to my heart for the main Genomes meeting, which I used to go to often. It was the place where I first talked about "Phylogenomics" as a means to predict gene function and this was how I got my first taste of the lab.
  5. Books from CSHL Press Of course I am a bit biased since they just published my evolution textbook, but the general quality of what they publish is very very very high. So many of these books have been key parts of my education including "A short course in bacterial genetics," "Molecular biology of the gene", "A genetic switch", The Archaeal Laboratory Manuals, "Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual" and many others. They publish some good journals too, but since they are not fully Open Access journals, I will not mention them here but hopefully these will become more Open as time goes on.
  6. Caumsett State Park. Just around the corner from the Banbury Campus it is a delightful location. When I was working on my textbook and living on the Banbury Campus I would try to bike to Caumsett every day for a break.
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  7. Biking down (and up) Snake Hill Road. See Google Map here. It is very steep and curvy and very fun and short enough to go up without killing yourself
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  8. Alex Gann. He was the original editor for my Evolution textbook. Conjure up an adjective to describe anybody you know. That adjective remarkably describes Alex too. He is anything and everything, good and bad, all rolled into one.
  9. Barbara McClintock. I am not sure what it is about her that is so fascinating but her persistence about jumping genes is awe inspiring. And of course, she was right about something very important when lots of people told her she was wrong.
  10. The lab was named after a Billy Joel album. How cool is that?


  1. The lab was named after a Billy Joel album. How cool is that?

    Over in Red Sox turf, I hear they have named an institute after a promising young cricketer, which is even cooler, though.

  2. The key there is - how did the cricketer pronounce his name? Rhymes with road or rhymes with awed?

  3. One thing that you did not mention, but which is near and dear to my heart is the Undergradute Research Program. These students are affectionately called "URP"s. It's a great program.
    The website says "Since 1959, the URP Program has been offering American and foreign undergraduate students a unique opportunity to study with many of the world's most renowned scientists. Some of our notable alumni include Dr. David Baltimore (current President of California Institute of Technology), Dr. Gerry Rubin (UC Berkeley), Dr. Alfred Goldberg (Harvard Medical School), Dr. Geraldine Seydoux (Johns Hopkins), and Dr. Charles Gilbert (Rockefeller University)." Somehow they forgot to mention Dr. John Logsdon (University of Iowa). ;-}

  4. you should write them ... how could they not mention the man of sex, genes,AND evolution

  5. You remind me about the silly quip (which I have made more than once) to the effect that U2 is the only rock band named after a small nuclear RNA. If I could sing and play guitar I'd start one called U12.

    More seriously, we should remember Watson's contribution. The New York Times wrote

    In a statement, the laboratory said Dr. Watson had transformed Cold Spring Harbor from “a small facility into one of the world’s great education and research institutions.” Eduardo Mestre, chairman of the laboratory’s board, said he had made “immeasurable contributions” to the establishment.

    No one can dispute that the lab became what it is today during his tenure as director.

  6. I think Watson contributions there have been immense. I was simply trying to give CSHL a little good press, with no discussion of Watson. This was not to ignore his contributions. It was just to talk about something else.

  7. Well, at least one thing is hard to swallow about the CSHL. Apparently, and if true appallingly, there is no recycling at the Lab. This means that the hundreds of plastic/glass bottles and cans that are consumed daily during meetings and workshops all end up in the trash. Shameful, especially for an institution of this caliber.

  8. Joanna

    You should write to someone there. I complained about this once before too. But now that they need some positive PR maybe it will get them to start.