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Embryology 2018: A good experience and a good story

Posted by , on 7 January 2019

Embryology 2019 application is due February 1, 2019. Go apply!! (

If that is not enough, check out my evaluation of my course experience.

Embryology 2018:

I evaluate experiences by this basic philosophy: Some things are a good experience, some are a good story. When I’m lucky, sometimes they are both.

My summer at #Embryo2018 had all three scenarios.

The story:

I applied to Embryology in January 2018 because I was eager to fall deeper in love with developmental biology. Unfortunately, I was waitlisted in March and bummed to not join the 2018 cohort. Fast-forward to the week before the course started in June, I received an email of an open spot. I accepted, booked flights, got over a hump of imposter syndrome, and in a whirlwind of a week ended up in Woods Hole, MA for a six-week experience that I will never forget.

The experience:

As a whole experience, this course changed how I approach science in three main ways:

I acknowledged that failure is evident, but less likely if you actually try the experiment. Thinking up imaginative experiments and trying them is not something to be scared of, but something to be celebrated. Yes, science is 95% failure, but the ride might as well be interesting and without fear.

Creativity and use of whatever tools are at hand can yield clever and important results.  Scientists performed some of the most delicate, and important embryological experiments by simply attaching an eyelash to a glass pipet or wooden stick to use as a knife. Creativity is celebrated, and most embryologists could give MacGyver a run for his money.

Science is fun, it’s social, and the people at the top still genuinely enjoy it. This course was a good reminder that the popular “loner, anti-social scientist” stereotype is a work of fiction. I met incredible peers taking the course, enthusiastic TAs who worked tirelessly to give us embryos at all hours, and faculty who were willing to share their experiences with us and demonstrate their love for science. Experiments can be hard, but sharing the experience with other scientists going through the same paces make the long road in academia much more inviting.

99 % of the time, #Embryo18 was both a good story & a good experience:

When I describe my time at the MBL this summer, the version I give varies depending on the audience. To my colleagues, I explain how every day we listened and interacted with phenomenal seminars. TAs and faculty supplied embryos and all of the reagents to work with them. We had the rest of the day to try any experiment we could think of. I mention how we used several cutting-edge microscopes and had access to staff to help us use them. I talk about the privilege and freedom of having only to think about experiments, free of grants, meetings and other obligations. I end with a couple of my favorite stories about my scientific heroes I had the pleasure of meeting (

When I tell my non-science friends about the course, I describe it as science summer camp where you make incredible new friends and stay up all night exploring organisms you would never think to study. I explain how in this course we learned history, we networked, and we grooved our way through town on the Fourth of July. We also swam at the beach, went whale watching, won the annual softball game, and even met the Prince of Monaco! For everyone, I end my#Embryo18 story the same by concluding the course was a magical six weeks I could have never imagined.

I can’t guarantee all of the same stories and experiences to the 2019 cohort, but I can guarantee both a good experience and a good story. Go apply now!


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