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Molecular Biology Summer Workshop: FAQ

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Course information 
Do I need any previous molecular biology knowledge to take this course?
Can I submit my application via email or fax?
Is there any financial aid available?

Course schedule
Does the workshop really start on the first Sunday?
When do activities end on the last day of the course?
How long is the work day, and how much time off is there? 

Campus Life
Will I have access to computers and phones?
If I have a disability or special dietary requirements, what should I do?
What are the residence facilities like? I haven't lived in a dorm for years!


Do I need any previous molecular biology knowledge to take this course?

No molecular biology experience is expected or required. The course is designed such that there will be more lecture in the first three days to bring everyone up-to-speed on common terms and concepts. These first few days provide a non-intimidating introduction to molecular biology. After that, you'll be amazed at how smoothly we progress from basic to advanced topics like quantitative PCR and next generation sequencing.

Previous participants include medical doctors, sales associates, equipment engineers, principal investigators, directors of programs, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research assistants. Their fields of research include various disciplines of medicine, biochemistry, ecology, immunology, microbiology, pharmacology, plant biology, genetics, physiology and others. They came from large universities, small colleges, medical schools, hospitals, industry and private foundations. Approximately 75% come from the USA and 25% come from overseas.

Can I submit my application via email or fax?

Applications can be accepted by email or fax, but we highly recommend that you apply online. Email your application to [email protected] and include "application" in the subject line. You may fax your application to (413) 585-4534 to the attention of Dr. Steven A. Williams.

Is there any financial aid available?

New England Biolabs (NEB) offers three scholarships to individuals who live and work in developing countries. To apply, please submit your CV and statement of motivation, along with a statement indicating that you would like to apply for financial aid, to [email protected] You will be notified of a decision as soon as possible. Deadline for scholarship application is March 1st.

NEB also offers three scholarships to elementary, middle and high school teachers from public or private schools. To apply for a scholarship, complete the online application, and forward your CV and statement of motivation to [email protected]. Deadline for scholarship applications is May 15th

Unfortunately, we do not have any other financial aid options. Please check with your institution, as they often provide funding for this type of course.

Does the workshop really start on the first Sunday?

Due to time constraints and the extent of the curriculum, we start lecture and lab session on the first Sunday evening. Dormitory check-in is from noon to 5 PM, followed by dinner from 6 to 7 PM. At 7:15 PM, there is an opening reception, followed by the introductory lecture. After lecture, there is a brief, 30-minute lab session, which ends at about 10 PM.

When do activities end on the last day of the course?

All sessions end on a Saturday. You will be able to leave whenever necessary on Saturday to accommodate your travel arrangements. The course officially ends around 11 AM, and you must be out of your dormitory by 12 PM.

How long is the work day, and how much time off is there?

The course is intensive. The course starts each day at 8:30 AM with a review of the protocols for the morning lab session. You are in lab or lecture until noon, and there is an hour off for lunch. Following lunch, there is another protocol session, more lecture and lab work until 6 PM. After an hour break for dinner, there is lecture and lab work until about 9:00-9:30 PM.

Your only full day off is the Sunday between the two weeks. As you can see, we make the most of the time that you spend here!

Will I have access to computers and phones?

Smith College has excellent computer facilities close to the Science Center. We have a group account for our course that gives you access to the internet. You can access your home or office computer to handle email. Be sure to find out how to access your institution's system from a remote location before leaving. Windows users need to install the latest updates to access the Smith Network, otherwise you will not have internet access from your laptop.

Dormitory rooms do have direct access to the network; you must have an ethernet cable. Each dorm room has its own phone/phone number; however, these phone lines are digital, and do not accommodate computer hookups. You can make collect and calling card calls from these phones. Unfortunately, there is no way to set up a phone billing system, so you must make collect or calling card calls through the Smith College operator. You can receive calls while there, however voicemail will not be in operation during the summer.

If I have a disability or special dietary requirements, what should I do?

Smith College residence and dining staff are familiar with these issues. If you have a disability, we ask you to contact us prior to your arrival on campus. You will be asked to file a form with the Smith College Disabilities Office.

There will be vegetarian alternatives served at every meal. If you have additional dietary requirements (medical or religious), please let us know several weeks before your arrival. The dining staff will be informed and should be able to accommodate your needs.

What are the residence facilities like? I haven't lived in a dorm for years!

Dormitories at Smith College are not like ones you find at most other colleges or universities. In fact, they are not dorms at all, but large houses. Each participant has a single room with a twin bed, desk, bureau, phone and closet. Bed linens, pillows and towels are supplied. Male and female participants are housed on separate floors. Each floor has its own communal bathroom, which is kept very clean by the housekeeping staff.

Please bring shampoo, soap and all other toiletries. Each house has quarter-operated washing machines and dryers in the basement. Please note that lighting is dim in the rooms and a small light would be useful for evening reading.


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