Organizer Guidelines

Number of invited participants

The number of workshop invitees is approximately 45. This number includes speakers and non-speaking participants.

Timing of invitations

MBI plans to send invitations to speakers and participants about one year before the workshop.


Diversity is very important to both NSF and MBI. Please keep in mind gender, ethnic, geographic, institutional and scientific diversity for invitees.

  • The MBI Board of Trustees requires the Director to track diversity in MBI workshops and asks that at least 20% of invited speakers and 20% of invited participants be women and that at least 20% of invited speakers and 20% of invited participants be men.
  • The Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF funds MBI. A primary goal of MBI is to bring together researchers from the math sciences and the biosciences; indeed, most successful MBI meetings have substantial numbers of mathematicians and of life scientists. To achieve this goal, we count as a mathematician anyone with an appointment in a math sciences department or anyone with a PhD in one of the mathematical sciences.

Number of talks

Our feedback indicates that fewer talks and longer breaks lead to more interaction and happier participants. Schedules for previous workshops can be found on the MBI website

Length of talks

Typically, workshops have three or four one-hour talks a day, although some workshops have a larger number of shorter talks.

Workshop schedule

Lectures normally begin at 9:00am. A continental breakfast provided each day at 8:30am and the program day ends by 4:30pm or 5:00pm.

Workshop entertainment

Add the following events to your schedule (days are flexible; this is based on a M-F workshop):

  • Monday 5:00pm – 7:00pm: Reception with poster session
  • Thursday 6:00pm – 9:00pm: Workshop Dinner
  • Optional: Pizza lunch hosted in MBI lounge

Poster session

Most workshops offer non-speaking participants the option of a poster presentation at the reception.

Student participants

MBI accepts applications from researchers and students. Partial support is given if funds are available. MBI encourages student participants to display posters, whether or not there is a formal poster session.

Panel sessions and Forward-looking session

Some workshop organizers schedule panel discussions with pre-assigned panelists. Also, NSF would like workshops to include a session that discusses new developments in the mathematical / statistical / computational sciences that are needed to solve important biological problems.

MBI introduction

At the start of the first day of the workshop please provide for a 10-minute introduction by the MBI Director (starting at 8:50a.m. if that helps).


MBI encourages tutorial lectures before or at the beginning of each workshop. There are many ways this can be carried out. Look on the web.

Speakers posted on website

MBI posts a list of confirmed speakers and participants on the MBI website as that information becomes available. We aim to have participants confirmed at least three months in advance since late scheduling often causes travel changes and MBI suffers the fiscal burden.

Schedule posted on website

Please complete your schedule at least three months in advance and email it to April Shelton at She will post it on the MBI website.

Late additions or cancellations

Please communicate any late additions or cancellations (both speakers and participants) to Rebecca Martin and Matt Thompson. This will help the staff avoid surprises and prepare for catering and hotel space.

Hotel policy

Hotel costs for organizers and invited participants will be billed directly to MBI.

Travel reimbursement policy

MBI will provide up to $600 toward domestic travel and up to $1,200 toward international travel for speakers and invited participants. MBI does not provide a per diem or reimburse any meal receipts. All international travel must be on US Carriers. MBI will reimburse all reasonable travel expenses for workshop organizers.

Video recording

Each presentation is video recorded and is broadcast on the web by live video streaming. If permission is given by the speaker, the presentation will also be placed on the MBI website.

After-hours assistance

If you require the assistance of MBI staff after 5:00pm for a special event, please notify us in advance to allow for proper scheduling. MBI offices usually close at 5:00pm each day and the MBI area is locked at that time.

Research stays at MBI

We ask organizers to identify people who would be possible long-term visitors to MBI during the theme year. We also ask organizers to identify participants who might like to stay at MBI for an extra week to discuss issues that arise in the workshop.

Let us know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns.

MBI Staff and their Roles

Feel free to contact them!

Rebecca Martin
Key Workshop Duties: Sends invitations to speakers and participants based on input received from the organizers and the Director.

April Shelton
Key Workshop Duties: Accepts titles and abstracts, speaker information and workshop schedules and places them on the web. Accepts consent forms for permission to post presentations and video.

Matt Thompson and Sarah Hancock
614.688.3739, 614.292.4531
Key Workshop Duties: Make participant packets and materials, take care of posters, send emails, and process registration and travel reimbursements.

Michael Siroskey, Carter Schoenfeld, and Jason Bray
614.292.0202, 614.247.4694, 614-292-2049,,
Key Workshop Duties: Handle technical duties and presentation issues.

Casey Jacobs
Key Workshop Duties: Handle locker key, help with travel reimbursement

Nikki Betts
Key Workshop Duties: Assists with all aspects of the workshop and answers questions regarding accommodations, travel, and reimbursements.

Tony Nance
Key Workshop Duties: Accepts questions, comments and suggestions at all points of the process, assists with special issues, and helps all things flow smoothly.


Organizer Guidelines

Sample Schedule