To: MBL Resident Faculty and Staff
To: MBL Course Directors, Vendors, and Whitman Scientists

From: Linda Hyman, Burroughs Wellcome Director of Education; David Mark Welch, Director of Research; Paul Speer, Chief Operating Officer

Subject: 2021 Planning Update

In recent months, two working groups have been carefully assessing the capacity necessary to offer education and visiting research programs at the MBL in the coming year while considering the needs of resident faculty and prioritizing the health of the MBL and local communities.

Working closely with course directors, we are pleased to share a 2021 course schedule that reflects our goal of resuming as many academic and research activities as possible while adhering to public health guidance around social distancing and other measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Six advanced research training courses— Frontiers in Reproduction (FIR), Physical Biology of the Cell (PBC), Zebrafish Development and Genetics (ZEBRA), Biology of the Inner Ear (BIE), Workshop on Molecular Evolution (MOLE), and Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structures (STAMPS)—chose not to meet in 2021 and, as such, the schedule reflects a reduced course footprint. This will allow for our full compliance with Commonwealth of Massachusetts and CDC recommendations for safe operations of our campus, including in labs, residences, classrooms, and common areas.

The Research Division intends to host all Whitman and Grass Fellows who are able to travel to the MBL in summer 2021, along with a limited number of Whitman Scientists as space allows. Whitman Scientists are being encouraged to plan their time at the MBL in non-peak months.

We are confident that MBL laboratories, classrooms, and housing/dining facilities will support a rich learning and working environment for our students and scientists. While all expectations are that the current pandemic situation will be improved by spring/summer 2021, it is important to remember that this is a fluid situation and that flexibility to adjust as needed based on external conditions and trends in the pandemic will be necessary.

The University of Chicago is providing technical support to help us operationalize the schedule and assess risk management. While details are not available at this time, planning for quarantine dormitory space, COVID-19 testing and monitoring, and childcare, along with a host of other operational details, is currently underway and will continue throughout the winter. We will continue to keep you updated regularly as operational plans develop.

Although the health and safety requirements that we are adopting to minimize the spread of COVID-19 will necessitate a different on-campus experience in 2021, it is only through these steps and a shared commitment to maintaining public health that our education and visiting research programs can resume.

Nevertheless, the coming year promises to be a productive one for training and research at the MBL. We look forward to resuming our transformative education and research opportunities with a renewed sense of purpose. Please reach out Linda Hyman at or David Mark Welch at with questions or concerns.