Over the past six months, I have been involved in not one, but two, intensive developmental biology research courses.  Each was a wonderful experience and watching how the courses impacted the students made me reflect on how transformative a rather similar course, one that I took nearly 30 years ago, was to my own scientific career.  Here, I share my thoughts on what it is about such courses that make them such beneficial and rewarding experiences for students (whether young or not so young) of developmental biology.

First a bit more background to my story. In July of 2022, I was a visitor to the Zebrafish Development and Genetics course held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL).  My goal was to learn from the experts more about how to run an intensive research course to help me prepare my own ‘Mini-Embryology’ course for UChicago graduate students.  I am extremely grateful to Zebrafish course directors Deborah Yelon (University of California, San Diego) and Tom Schilling (University of California, Irvine), together with their entire instructional team, for generously welcoming me into their group.

It didn’t take long before I was testing out microinjection reagents, mounting up embryos, and helping the students with their microscopes. The students were a diverse and international group, coming from varied scientific backgrounds and types of institution, ranging from senior graduate students to faculty, all with a common goal of learning more about the zebrafish model. Their enthusiasm was palpable and sharing part of their journey of discovery was a privilege, as was the opportunity to spend quality time with the fabulous group of instructors, all experts in my field. Seeing the students discover the wonders of zebrafish embryos reminded me just how exciting that same process had been for me back in 1993—but more on that later.  It helped me enormously that the Zebrafish course was in the same lab space I would use 3 months later and being there in person allowed me to meet the key MBL folks critical to setting up lab courses. I was without doubt much better prepared for my October course by the end of my visit. Read the full article.

Source: The Magic of Developmental Biology Research Courses | Society for Developmental Biology