Dear Colleagues,While the MBL has successfully mitigated the spread of coronavirus on our campus to date, the pandemic has upended our research and education programs, in particular the 2020 Advanced Research Training Courses and Whitman Scientist programs.

As we look toward 2021, it is critical that we resume as many research and education activities as possible while following all public health guidelines that have been established to limit the spread of COVID-19. To accomplish this goal, we have launched a significant planning process for calendar year 2021.

Fueled by the knowledge that we’ve gained from recent planning of the UChicago Autumn Quarter 2020 courses at the MBL, but cognizant of the unique challenges of our advanced training courses and Whitman programs, we’ve assembled two working groups to assess and analyze capacity and space required for safely expanding on-campus activities in 2021:

  • Visitor Working Group – will assess and develop a comprehensive list of the various visitor constituencies coming to campus and space utilization for each group
  • Space Capacity & Expansion Working Group – will analyze space capacities (e.g. housing, dining, lab, lecture/meeting, childcare, etc.) and explore expanded on-campus space options to meet visitor demand

All planning will adhere to public health guidelines and testing capacities and will rely on support from the University of Chicago.

Over the next month, the working groups will assess baseline capacity and demand and will consider ways to add capacity in areas of shortfall. Paul Speer and I will provide you with more detailed information on capacity for your own planning purposes in early November. A preliminary operational plan will be completed in early December. In the meantime, please reach out Linda Hyman, Burroughs Wellcome Director of Education at or David Mark Welch, Director of the Division of Research at with questions or concerns.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the MBL. We are looking forward to expanding activities on our campus to meet our mission of providing transformative education and research opportunities that are a hallmark of the MBL experience.


Nipam H. Patel