DISLOne of the most important mechanisms for providing a cohesive training experience is a course entitled “Introduction to Neurobiology” held at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, on Dauphin Island in the Gulf of Mexico. The course is taught by Drs. Keyser, Strang and McMahon, together with faculty members from the Departments of Neurobiology and Physiology and Biophysics. All students entering the Vision Science, Neuroscience, and Behavioral Neuroscience Programs are strongly encouraged to enroll in the course. Most students enroll in the summer before they begin graduate school, and the course runs from the end of July to the middle of August. The faculty and students live in the Sea Lab housing and eat together in the cafeteria. There are 2 hour lectures every morning, and laboratory exercises begin before lunch and often do not end until late in the evening. There are additional lectures during the afternoon and some evenings. Every year, two of the most enthusiastically received laboratory exercises are the fish retina immunohistochemistry experiment and the Limulus lateral eye nerve fiber recording (based on experiments by Hartline and Graham, 1932) in which suction electrode recording from the nerve of an isolated lateral eye is used to illustrate visual responses. The students who take the Sea Lab course evolve into a tightly knit, interdisciplinary group. They have shared the experience of a rigorous, rewarding learning experience so that when they return to Birmingham to begin classes, the students already have a social infrastructure in the sense they often study or socialize as a group. In general, these students do statistically better in the first year classes than their counterparts who do not take the course. The summer of 2013 will mark the 17th year that the course has been offered. The course was funded by grants from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the UAB Provost, the UAB Graduate School, and NSF.
You can find more information about DISL here.