Molecular Biology Summer Workshops

Frequently Asked Questions



Is there any financial aid available?

New England Biolabs offers three scholarships to individuals who live and work in developing countries. If this applies to you, then please submit your C.V. and statement of motivation along with a statement indicating that you would like to apply for financial aid. We will then forward your application to New England Biolabs. You will be notified of a decision one way or the other as soon as possible.

In addition, New England Biolabs offers two 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 C.V. and statement of motivation to

Unfortunately, we do not have any other funds with which to offer any financial aid for the course. Our only suggestion is to check with your institution. Often they will provide funding for this type of course.

Financial Aid Application Deadline for scientists living in a developing country: February 22, 2016 (Monday)
Financial Aid Application Deadline for Elementary, Middle and High School teachers: May 2, 2016 (Friday)

If you need a visa to enter USA, please provide us with proof that you have obtained your visa by May 27, 2016 (Friday)   We strongly recommend you start visa application NOW!  The whole process could last up to 2-months.  Visa application information can be obtained at,

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

This is a question that we are asked frequently. No molecular biology experience is expected or required. The course schedule is designed such that there will be more lecture time 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 how smoothly we progress from basic to advanced topics like quantitative PCR and thermal cycle sequencing.  In fact, in our two week courses we refer to the first week as the introductory course and the second week as the advanced course.

Does the workshop really start on the first Sunday?

Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the amount of material we need to cover, we actually have a lecture and lab session on the first Sunday evening. Check-in time at the dormitory is from 12 noon to 5 pm. It is important that you arrive on time. Dinner is from 6 pm to 7 pm. At 7:15 pm there is an opening reception followed by the introductory lecture. Following lecture there will be a brief (1/2 hour) lab session ending at about 10 pm.

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

All sessions of the course end on a Saturday. There is a lecture/discussion from 9-11 am for a review of experimental results. 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 dorm rooms by 12 noon.

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

In our advertisements, we state that the course is intensive. We really are serious about this!! 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 12 noon, when you have about 1 hour off for lunch. Following lunch there is another protocol session and more lecture and lab work until 6 pm. After a 1 hour break for dinner, there is lecture and lab work until about 10 pm. There will be three nights where there is no lecture or lab work (we play volleyball one night and softball one night). The other night off is the Saturday evening before your day off. You will have the Sunday between the two weeks of the course as your only day off. 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. From there you can dial your home or office computer to handle your E-mail. 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. If this is not possible you will not have internet access from your laptop.

The dorm rooms do have direct access to the network, but you must have an ethernet card installed in your computer to use them. Each dorm room has its own phone and phone number, however these phone lines are digital, and therefore, do NOT accommodate computer hookup. . 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, the voice mail will not be in operation during the summer, and therefore, you cannot receive messages on these phones.

Is there a contact number or FAX number in case of emergency?

Yes, Fax number: (413) 585-4534 (please put attention Dr. Steven Williams on incoming fax messages)

Since you will not be in your dorm rooms much, you will be able to receive phone and fax messages through the Ford Hall Science Office (c/o Dr. Steven A. Williams). The secretaries will be able to take messages and deliver them twice each day. You will be given these emergency phone and fax numbers upon your arrival.

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 remember that these are not hotels! You will need to bring shampoo, soap and all other toiletries. Each house has washing machines and dryers in the basement that require quarters to operate. Note: the light is dim in the rooms and a small light will be useful for evening reading.

Can I submit my application via email or fax?

Yes. The address to submit your application via email is Please put "application" in the subject line.

The fax number is 413-585-4534. Please send attention: Dr. Steven A. Williams.

However, it's best if you use our New England Biolabs Summer Workshops Online Application Form

  This  page is maintained by Susan Haynes at the Ford Hall, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063.  Last update: December 16, 2016.