“The course director in 1956, Mac V. Edds, Jr., recruited me and made it possible for me to take this course as a graduating senior. What a transformative experience! By the time I had spent four inspiring summers in Old Main Laboratory (and four winters in grad school) my perspectives on developmental biology and all science had been forged into life-long excitement, and the untraveled paths my research adventures have followed for the next sixty years had been glimpsed. Even the university where I joyously have spent my career was determined by the experience. Thank you for the magic, MBL!” Chandler Fulton, Alumnus (1956), Teaching Assistant and Lecturer (1957-59)

“I took the MBL Embryology Course in 1983 because I had read about ascidian eggs in my Developmental Biology book and I was sure that the yellow crescent was the secret to life!! I left Iowa, the first in my family to travel to the East Coast, and had a wonderful summer at MBL. I fell in love with ascidian eggs and embryos and I have continued to study them for the past 40 years. I now work with a local species, Boltenia villosa, that has a brilliant orange crescent and I am always happy when there are embryos developing. I changed my whole life, went to a Postdoctoral position at the University of Texas with William R. Jeffery and have never looked back. I am retiring this year, but plan to continue my research and lab at UW's Friday Harbor Laboratories as long as I am able.” Billie Swalla, Alumnus (1983-1987)

“Rudy Raff recruited me as a course instructor for 1980-82. Then Bill Jeffery and I were co-directors from 1983-88. This experience was transformative for me and my graduate students who joined me in Woods Hole. We learned new techniques and initiated several productive collaborations and friendships.

The era of descriptive molecular embryology was giving way to its experimental phase, led by developmental geneticists and micromanipulators.  Evolution and development was a major topic of discussion in the course. While it was an exciting period with much anticipation of the future, we could not the have imagined how much progress has been made based on new technologies and knowledge.

It has been rewarding to see so many of the students and young faculty in the Embryology Course having such successful careers. One aspect of the course as it was then, the 6 week research session, was especially successful. The course was being acknowledged in about 20 publications per year. That may have helped our application for a training grant renewal achieve a perfect priority score.” Bruce Brandhorst, Course Faculty (1980-1982), Course Director (1983-1988)

“My lab partner and I asked to remain and continue our work, so we rented down the block until all the summer folks left after living though a hurricane. I came back next year with my new husband and took ecology and botany too. We married June 5, one week before classes began and rented a house behind the lab. We spent our 3 month honeymoon taking classes. MBL made us the professors and productive scientists we became. The only sad part is we couldn’t visit in the summers because we were always working and teaching.” Anita Marko Freudenthal, Alumnus (1952-1955)

“I would definitely not be in the position I am now if I had not participated in the course. It gave me a bigger vision and made me more open to taking risks.” Amber O’Connor, Alumna (2010)

“Completely defined my career - from scientific direction, to postdoc choice, to connecting to future colleagues and collaborators.” Tatjana Sauka-Spengler, Course Lecturer (2017), Course Faculty (2021)

“Taking the Embryology Course was the highlight of my graduate training. Much of who I am as a scientist can be traced to my first summer at the MBL.” Rob Steele, Alumnus (1976)

“Inspiring to connect with such talented students and faculty. Magical to spend time at Woods Hole over the summer.” Michelle Itano, Course Faculty (2021)

“Embryos viewed at my home institution were pickled; those studied in the MBL Course were alive, and so then was I. One of the two most transformative events in my early career.” Thoru Pederson, Alumnus (1965)

“A forgotten, child-like curiosity I needed as a scientist was sparked again into an eternal flame when I was exposed to the diversity of model organisms week after week.” B. Duygu Özpolat, Alumna (2013), Course Faculty (2014)

“The MBL Embryology course was one of the best experiences of my career. As a student it provided the opportunity to not only learn about the embryology of diverse organisms and modern techniques, but also to network with classmates and leaders in the field (including those who became my postdoctoral mentors and have persisted as friends and colleagues to this day).” Judith Venuti, Alumna (1981), Course Faculty (1983, 1997, 1998)

“Life-changing experience. I met so many friends and future colleagues. The course opened the doors to my future research and career.” Alice Accorsi, Alumna (2013), Teaching Assistant (2016-2018)

“There are so many ways in which the Embryology course affected my career and life that it is difficult to explain them all. Taking the course as a student made me change my research directions. The complexity and beauty of the developing embryo, the diversity of mechanisms to build embryos of different species, and the richness of the problems in developmental biology, convinced me to work on morphogenesis and embryonic self-organization. Another important aspect is that, as a student, the course gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the most amazing scientists in the field (about 100 faculty pass by every year!). This is very enriching as a scientist, and also helps build your scientific network. I still remember the first day of the course, when we were told that the Embryology Course is a life-changing experience, and many of the students (including me) thought it was clearly an exaggeration. At least for me, it was not, and the course changed both my research and my life, since I met my future wife there as well. I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity I was given as a student, and I hope this extraordinary course will keep changing the life of many more students for years to come.” Otger Campàs, Alumnus (2009)

“To me, the Embryology Course is a unique and important experience as a Developmental Biologist (and as a scientist!). Through the hard work of the people organizing the Modules, I was exposed to hundreds of little universes, each special and wonderful. That made me a better scientist and expanded my scientific vision. Also, I made key networking connections with people in the field that I still cherish and take advantage of. Finally, I made a lot of friends with my classmates and we still talk through social media, and we support each other personally and scientifically.” Joaquín Navajas Acedo, Alumnus (2016), Teaching Assistant (2017)

“The course introduced me to most of the leaders in the field and to so many students who would go on to become leaders in the field. It also introduced me to the MBL summer research program, which provided a great home for much of my work in subsequent years, as well as many beloved colleagues and lifelong friends.” Joan Ruderman, Alumna (1974), Course Faculty (1976, 1978, 1981-1984, 1986, 1989), Course Director (1979)

“The course introduced me to the power of microscopy. It changed my PhD project and instilled a boldness to try all sorts of experiments.” Suresh Jesuthasan, Alumnus (1991)

“The Embryology Course has been an incredible experience. Working with a variety of animal models, exploring the richness and diversity of development and learning from leading experts in each field are unique opportunities that have impacted me as a scientist. I have also been able to implement some of the techniques I learned in my PhD project. But what surprised and amazed me was the sense of community and friendship and the joy for science that we all shared, which have been among the most rewarding experiences of this course.” Giacomo Gattoni, Alumnus (2022)

“This course was the highlight of my career so far. It instilled in me the pure joy of curiosity of science and was the embodiment of what I wish the future of academic science to be: curiosity driven, camaraderie, passion and compassion all in one!” Mia Konjikusic, Alumna (2019)