Beyond the Classroom

Biotechnology Training Grant Itasca

Itasca Forestry and Biological Station

Each year trainees are invited to study at the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Forestry and Biological Station. Located in Itasca State Park at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, it’s a favorite getaway for many from the Twin Cities. The research station is dedicated to learning how ecosystems work, appreciating their value, and preserving them for future generations. 

Itasca Camp – Prior to Fall Semester

The Itasca Camp is two-week training course that serves as a welcome and orientation for the incoming class of graduate students. It builds a community of the students and faculty who are involved in the training grant, and fosters new opportunities for education and collaboration. It is co-administered by the departments of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development (GCD), and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics (BMBB).

Morning and afternoon sessions are held in the field station classrooms, laboratories, and computer lab. Students learn or review techniques in biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, and structural biology.

Winter Retreat

Every winter, we hold a weekend retreat at the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biology Research Station. Faculty, trainees, and invited alumni spend the weekend away from the Twin Cities in large cabins. Trainees organize the retreat, including meal planning and cooking. This retreat is meant for community building; there is ample time for socializing, gathering around the fireplace, cooking, skiing, snow shoeing, etc. A block of time is carved out for program specific activities led by traning grant faculty or alumni.

History of the Itasca Forestry and Biological Station

Since it was established in 1909, the Itasca Station has hosted tens of thousands of students, scientists, and teachers. The Itasca Library houses more than 900 articles and dissertations as well as about 2,500 student papers based on research carried out at Itasca. The Itasca Field Station is located on the grounds of Minnesota’s oldest state park, on the eastern shore of Lake Itasca.

The retreats were genuinely the most helpful aspect of the grant, since informal discussion is amazingly fruitful when it comes not only to learning about the research fields of others, but in spurring thoughtful dialogue about your own projects as well. The grant connected me to others doing similar research in different departments across the university, which helped me develop and expand my thinking about my projects in a way that I think would have been lacking were it not for the program.

Adam Woodruff, Vacuum Physicist, Founder BDW Biotechnologies. MSU National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory/FRIB, Former trainee