When the MBL started planning for spring and summer 2021 programs nearly a year ago, we knew there were a significant number of challenges to overcome if we were to bring students and scientists together in a productive and safe way. Through the intensive efforts and unwavering dedication of our staff, scientists, and course faculty, we worked through those challenges and successfully resumed our visiting research and training programs without an on-campus transmission of COVID-19.
Although not at normal capacity, nearly 800 people joined us over the spring and summer months as part of a course or the Whitman visiting scientist program. This is a true accomplishment given that training programs at some of our peer institutions have remained almost completely virtual since the start of the pandemic. Tents replaced dining halls and, in some cases, classrooms, but the distinct vibrancy of a MBL summer of science prevailed.
In September we welcomed 60 University of Chicago undergraduates for three weeks of classes and another 20+ undergrads are enrolled in the Semester in Environmental Science course and will be with us until mid-December. We will also host a few small conferences and students from two local high schools for courses now through the end of the calendar year. Tonight we reach yet another milestone as our local community returns to the Cornelia Clapp Auditorium for the first in-person event open to the public in more than 18 months.
I am optimistic as we continue to resume more activity while progressing through our pandemic journey and am proud to lead an institution that continues to deliver on its research and education mission despite the challenges we have faced. I am grateful for the resilience, perseverance, and commitment that MBL faculty and staff have demonstrated in helping to keep our community safe and for the continued support of our loyal friends and steadfast supporters.
Nipam H. Patel