COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y., May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, May 7, distinguished scientists joined proud friends and family at the 14th commencement ceremony of the Watson School of Biological Sciences (WSBS) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Eight outstanding young scientists were awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and an honorary degree was bestowed upon Nobel laureate Carol Greider, Ph.D., who spent nearly a decade at CSHL early in her career.
Jamie C. Nicholls, Chairman of the Laboratory's Board of Trustees, addressed the graduating class, saying, "The Watson School graduation is a favorite event for all of us. At its core, it celebrates scientific talent and the unique culture of Cold Spring Harbor. I know I am not alone in saying how uplifting it is to see some of the best and the brightest from multiple countries come together to focus on science."
Attendees who gathered in CSHL's Grace Auditorium were welcomed by Dr. Bruce Stillman, CSHL President and CEO, and by Dr. Alexander Gann, Dean of the Watson School. "These students are proud products of our unique program," said Dr. Gann. "We enable students to complete their Ph.D. degrees two years quicker than the national average, and this is achieved not by lowering standards; rather, it is the result of dedicated faculty ensuring these exceptional students pursue science in a highly-focused way."
Dr. Carol Greider, honored at Sunday's WSBS graduation, working with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, in 1984 discovered telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomeres, the "caps" at the end of chromosomes. In her convocation address, Greider spoke of her career, including her award of the 2009 Nobel Prize (shared with Blackburn and Dr. Jack Szostak), in characteristically self-effacing terms. She advised the graduates to expect both ups and downs in the research careers that lay before them – but never to become discouraged.
The Watson School is named for Dr. James D. Watson, now CSHL chancellor emeritus. Along with the late Dr. Francis Crick, Dr. Watson is co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA. In 1962, the two were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery, along with Maurice Wilkins.
For a record third time, Associate Professor Gurinder "Mickey" Atwal, a quantitative biologist, was honored with the Winship Herr Award for Excellence in Teaching. Named for the founding dean of the Watson School, the award is annually given to a teacher singled out by the school's first-year students.
This year, Dr. Herr, now a Professor at the Université de Lausanne in Switzerland, was present at the commencement convocation. He said the new graduates' talents and early successes was a mark of the school's success in attaining its lofty founding objectives.
About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program hosts more than 12,000 scientists from around the world each year on its campuses in Long Island and in Suzhou, China. The Laboratory's education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu
SOURCE Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory