Researchers gather at Smith College for science 'boot camps'

rograms, this is pretty much the only course there is." Participants in the program live in student housing on the Smith campus but spend little time in their rooms. After a 7:30 a.m. breakfast, a daily regimen of labs and lectures begins at 8:30 and continues to 10 p.m. with one-hour breaks for lunch and dinner. The only day off during the two-week session is the middle Sunday. "They know what they're getting into," says Williams of the long hours, "but we work very hard at keeping the atmosphere fun."

Fifty attendees per session work in pairs on experiments that include construction of genomic and cDNA libraries, purification of DNA and RNA, DNA sequencing, cloning strategies, quantitative PCR and other subjects.

"We try to give them all the tools they'll need so that when they leave here they can read the molecular biological literature, set up their labs to do experiments right away and collaborate with other scientists," Williams explains.

Program faculty members are Williams; Barton Slatko, of the DNA Sequencing Group at New England Biolabs, Inc.; Alan L. Scott, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University; and Lori Saunders, an assistant professor of biology at Smith.

One aspect of the program that makes it particularly valuable is the cutting-edge equipment used in the labs, such as automated DNA sequencers. More than $1 million worth of equipment has been contributed to the program by companies such as New England Biolabs in Beverly, Mass.; MJ Research in Boston; and Applied BioSystems and Stratagene, both based in California.

The equipment remains at Smith year-round, where it is available for student and faculty use. The resulting availability of the high-quality scientific equipment makes Smith one of the best places in the world for undergraduates to study molecular biology and related disciplines, Williams observes. This is particularly true now that Smith is developing a molecular biol

Contact: Laurie Fenlason
Smith College

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