Fallen Leaf Lake and MCB T32 Training Program Retreat

— Amy Leslie

The UC Davis Molecular and Cell Biology T32 Training Program Retreat was the highlight of my October. Why?

  • A half day in the lab
  • a scenic road trip with others in the PREP cohort to Fallen Leaf Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • A weekend filled with scientific talks in South Lake Tahoe.

Science + congenial company + recreation in a beautiful setting — what more could you want?

After arriving at the Stanford Sierra Conference Center, we settled into our respective cabins and then met up at the main lodge where all the researchers from the Molecular and Cellular Biology department gathered around.

Friday night provided an awesome opportunity for both scientific discussions and networking in a friendly, casual atmosphere. The excitement was contagious as all the new first year BMCDB graduate students started spreading around and everyone engaged in discussions about rotations, potential faculty mentors, and current projects across the field.

This was the best representation of the scientific community that I’ve ever seen in academia by far. I saw mentorships and collaborations in the making during that weekend retreat. It was awesome hearing T32 trainees present their research and finding out the latest experiments in everybody’s lab.

PREP@UCD alumnus and second-year IGG grad student Ivan presented his work in a poster session.

After attending the poster sessions and powerpoint presentations, I found that my research interests matched many faculty mentors all throughout the College of Biological Sciences. It was a fantastic opportunity to engage professors on a further level and gain better insight into the most recent findings.

Bright and early at 7AM on the docks of Fallen Leaf Lake, scientists of all ages gathered onto the edges of the crisp lake for the annual and infamous Polar Bear Swim. The event lasted only a few minutes as everyone was in and out of the water as quick as lighting due to the ummmmm…refreshing… (or perhaps frigid is more apt) temperatures of the lake.

Throughout the day, the research talks went by quickly. In the afternoon, everyone was awarded with a few hours of recreational activities, including hiking forest trails, kayaking, and paddle boarding on the lake. I took an unexpected swim after falling off the paddle board.


October is a busy month for the PREP@UCD Scholars, with full-time research, finishing up the NSF GRF proposal, preparing results for a poster at a national conference, and throwing in a lab meeting or two.

The T32 Retreat gave us a fantastic way to break away from everyday protocols and start connecting the bigger picture. It was fun to explore new areas of science and find answers to relevant questions pertaining to our research. The retreat gave us a breath of fresh air and renewed our passion for science as we continued to satisfy our scientific curiosity and deepen our understanding of the biological sciences.