Showing posts with label Retreat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retreat. Show all posts

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CSLS Yearly Retreat

One of our local sources of excellence is the undergraduate program in "Computer Science and Computational Biology" which is often nicknamed CSLS. This elite program accepts relatively few students (~20/year) with very high entry grades. The students study both Computer Science and Life Sciences as well as specialized courses. To meet these requirements the program has a very high courseload.

Overcoming the challenges of such a program is often dependent on team spirit. Classes that formed a supporting social group usually had better success and the students felt they learned more and were happier. To help form such interactions we employ various activities, including specialized classes and study sessions for this group. One of the most important activities is the yearly retreat.


In the retreat, which takes place toward the end of the academic term, we take students in all stages of the program together with the teachers and TAs of the program.

The location of the retreat is Hof Dor, a beautiful beach that borders a large nature reserve along on of the most unique shorelines in Israel.

Although we spent two days next to the beach, most of the day was in the lecture hall.


The packed program had talks by senior year students who presented their final project. These projects involve working with researchers at the Hebrew University on a range of topics.



The talks in the retreat serve as a milestone in the project, as they provide a chance to present the research question, methods and results to a supportive audience. For the younger students these talk open a window to current research questions and how computational analysis plays a role in a range of biological studies.

Many credits go to Naomi for mentoring the projects throughout the year and working with the students on the presentations.


In addition we had a a keynote talk by Nathalie Balaban on non-genetic variability in bacteria and it's evolutionary importance.


However, sitting in a hot room listing to talks can be tiring.


To fight the sleepiness, Naomi arranged for an impromptu streach session, and later a musical interlude.


In spite of the heat, many of the talks inspired interesting discussions.



To top things off we ended the meeting with a guided trip in the nature reserve.







Alon and me took advantage of the flat sea to do two quick dives (one in the evening and the other early in the morning) at the local beach.






Thursday, May 19, 2011

CSLS Retreat

I am one of the heads of the Computer Science and Computational Biology dual-major program at the Hebrew University. The unofficial name more often used is Computer Science - Life Science (CSLS). As part of our activities we hold a yearly retreat with all the undergraduate students in the program, teachers, and some of the program graduates. 

During the retreat the third year students present their senior year project, we have some social activities, discuss the program and issues raised by students at different stages, and have a guest lecturer. 



Our guest lecturer this year was Roy Kishony from Harvard Medical Center who talked about bacteria, anti-biotics, and forces that shape they evolution of anti-bacterial resistance.


The location of the retreat is on the beach in Hof Dor (also known as Tantura, see a wikipeida article on the complex history of the place), south of Haifa, which hosts a very beautiful settings for activities. The location is northen border of the sandy beaches of southern Israel, which are formed by sand from the Nile. From here to the north there are hills of sandstone that form ragged beaches. The location was the southern-most Phoenician  city of Dor, which served as a port for various sea-routes of the Phoenician traders. They also had an active industry for collecting sea shells from which the "Royal Purple" color was manufactured (a very rare and expensive dye in the ancient world). 



Today, the natural lagons are a harbour for fishing boats and a public beach.



We finished the retreat with a short trip in Ramat Hanadiv, a park established by the Baron Edmund de Rothschild Foundation in his memory at the southern part of the Carmel mountain. This includes very nice gardens and a large area for nature conservation 


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lab Retreat

The last two days we spent on our annual lab retreat. The idea is to go out of the university and spend two days in which we get a chance to hear what everyone has been up to and plans to do next. It is also a chance to bond socially.

This year we met in Netiv HaLamed-Heh, a kibutz south-west of Jerusalem.


In what used to be an old barn there is a site that now hosts weddings and seminars. We had a nice and specious room for the talks.




The talks covered a lot of materials, and so we needed some breaks to enjoy the sun.


In the late afternoon we had a special treat, a talk about therapy using puppets.


We then prepared food for the night. Moran found a yeast-shaped potato, which was clearly an important omen.


The potato went into the pot with all the other ingredients and onto the fire. After an hour or so, we had a tasty meal.



The next day we continued with the talks.

We then got into the cars and drove up to a nice hill, and had a lunch picnic, and a short trip to nearyby ruins.