Division of Education

Rae Nishi

Rae Nishi, PhD

Director, Division of Education
Burroughs Wellcome Fund Director of Education

Welcome to the MBL Division of Education! As a former student, teaching assistant, faculty member, and course director at MBL, I am proud to be the Director of the Division of Education. I am looking forward to sustaining the excellence of our existing courses, and building new courses that will run during the academic year at MBL. I am particularly interested in enhancing the diversity of the scientific and academic workforce.

The MBL offers a wide range of scientific courses, workshops, conferences, and internships throughout the year. Central to the MBL’s identity are its advanced, discovery-based courses for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. In these courses students learn from internationally renowned scientists and are immersed in the laboratory, learning cutting-edge techniques while investigating contemporary research problems.

Each year, MBL courses attract more than 500 of the best and brightest students in the world, from more than 400 institutions and over 40 countries. Course directors and faculty are leaders in their fields, drawn from leading universities and research institutions around the world. Substantial financial support to defray the costs of attending these courses comes from federal and private grants. The courses also benefit from partnerships with many commercial developers and vendors, who share the very latest technology in advanced imaging and other scientific equipment each year through the MBL Vendor Equipment Loan Program.

In addition to teaching courses, the MBL hosts dozens of workshops and conferences, as well as courses for the University of Chicago in addition to other colleges and universities as a campus away. Like the more advanced courses, undergraduate programs and research internships at the MBL emphasize immersive, discovery-based learning.

Advanced Research Training Courses

MBL courses are often called “transformative.” This is a strong statement, verified each year in formal course reviews and in the recently administered alumni survey. A “transformative experience” can be many things to many people, but it is possible to identify common, underlying educational themes at the MBL that motivate this statement, year after year. In general, students are empowered to pursue science at the very highest levels, often transforming the manner in which they approach their graduate, postdoctoral or independent research programs. Students are given access to state-of-the-art equipment and are instructed in the use of this technology from first principles, whether in optics, biophysics or behavior. They learn the inner workings of the equipment and the fundamental principles upon which the technology is based. Just as importantly, students work directly with outstanding faculty from around the world, day after day, pursuing novel experiments that test new ideas and foster a globe-spanning network of collaboration. From this comes a fearlessness derived from having grappled with the limitations of current technology and the boundaries of current understanding.

Undergraduate Programs

MBL offers a Semester in Environmental Science and summer research internship opportunities for qualified undergraduates.

Other Educational Programs

Programs for teachers and science communicators are also offered to expand the diversity of education at MBL.

Course Quotes

“I’m not sure there is anywhere in the world that is comparable to the MBL.”

“The freedom to ask whatever questions we want, the support, the materials, the microscopes…everything was phenomenal.”

“Life-changing, career-changing, everything.”

“This course has made me more confident as a scientist.”

“Ultimate Science.”

“I think the course improves you as not only a scientist but also a person.”

“The labs were fantastic.”

“It was an incredible opportunity to see daily lectures from top researchers around the world.”

“We are all much better scientists for having attended.”

“The course was amazing. Truly, an experience that has renewed my scientific curiosity and spirit of adventure.”