The 2015 Molecular Genetics Retreat was once again held at Geneva Park YMCA on September 23-25th. Attendance broke all records this year with 44 PIs, 94 graduate students, 14 post-docs/staff, 60 rotation students and 9 undergraduate MoGen specialists. The retreat was led this year by Michael Wilson and Jim Rini whose dedication and hard work made sure everything ran without a hitch.

 The new cohort of first year students and faculty members headed up to Geneva Park on the first day for the inaugural dinner and Power-Hour. Implemented 5 years ago, the Power Hour tests the PI’s skills in condensing their research into only 2 minutes with one slide. Always entertaining, and we won’t go into embarrassing detail, but let us just say not all the PIs escaped unscathed. The first year students were thoroughly amused and it acts as a great ice breaker.

 The rest of the department joined the next day, which began with opening remarks from Howard Lipshitz and then a panel of scientific talks that truly highlighted the diversity of research in MoGen. Three new faculty members gave talks this year: Eric Campos, Xi Huang, and Daniel Schramek. In-between the science, there was a faculty/staff vs students soccer game. Over 20 students and 13 PIs participated. The competition was (mostly) friendly and the official line was that everyone was having too much fun to keep score. Following the soccer game was the student poster session, which was bigger and livelier than ever before. Many thanks goes out to all of the professors and senior graduate students that volunteered as judges.

The MoGen family portrait, a new tradition that was implemented last year, was taken right before dinner. Definitely one of the main highlights from the retreat that everyone could not stop talking about was the drone camera brought by Mikko Taipale, which made a surprise appearance during the portrait taking. Over dinner, the GSA provided an entertaining game show inspirited by Family Feud. A few weeks before the retreat, graduate students were polled on various questions pertaining to the lab and then two teams of professors had to guess what the most popular answers were. It ended up being a great learning experience for everyone. For example, if a zombie apocalypse were to hit, everyone should take shelter in MSB. Also, graduate students can be easily bribed with food and positive reinforcement (shocker!). The entertainment portion of the night ended with a very touching commemorative slideshow dedicated to Howard Lipshitz’s last year as Department Chair.

Overall, the retreat this year was another smashing success! A big thanks goes out to the entire retreat organizing committee, along with Kenneth Grisé and the GSA, for making the retreat a highlight of everyone’s year. We can’t wait for the next one!