Since its founding in 1888, the Marine Biological Laboratory has served as a platform for distinguished scientists from around the world, who come to the Laboratory to collaborate and conduct research. The Whitman Center is home for this vibrant research community of Whitman Center Scientists that comprise more than 100 principal investigators from academic institutions around the world.

This extraordinary group of leading scientists, some with long-established programs at MBL and some new to the MBL each year, come to work together and explore fundamental questions in biology and biomedical science. Often using the unique variety of marine organisms available here, these researchers explore such diverse questions as the mechanisms of nerve cell communication and function, the genetics of development and regeneration, the biology of cell division, the nature of microbial community diversity and evolution, and the complex processes of sensory perception. Along with the MBL Resident Scientists and the large number of faculty who direct and/or teach in the MBL courses, Whitman Center Scientists create the unique and exciting environment at the MBL that noted author and scientist, Lewis Thomas, described as “a human institution possessed of a life of its own.”

Whitman Center Scientists find an infrastructure and an informal, interactive scientific community that allows them to launch into research almost immediately upon their arrival. Advice and equipment always seem available from other researchers or from colleagues in the education program. Free from academic duties at their home institutions, some veteran Whitman Center Scientists report they do more hands-on research in three months at the MBL than they do during the rest of the year at their home institutions. Whitman Center Fellowships are available to investigators wishing to do research at the MBL.

In addition to the summer months, researchers may choose to work at the MBL at other times during the traditional academic year when they will also find a rich scientific environment and enjoy the same informal setting, free from the distractions of the typical academic environment.