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Colloquium ‘Spotlight Research talks’


Admission requirements

Lectures are open for all MSc students from the Faculty Mathematics & Natural Sciences, but non-biology students should check with their study advisor.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. B.E. Snaar-Jagalska

Alternative contacts: Dr. Klaas Vrieling (
Dr. Anna-Pavlina Haramis ( or Dr. Daniel Rozen (


In the Spotlight series PhD students, postdocs and staff members give short (20 minutes plus 10 minutes questions) presentations about new, exiting developments in biology. The lectures provide a broad overview of the research taking place within the Institute Biology Leiden and related institutes such as the NBC Naturalis and the Institute for Environmental Sciences. The summaries will be graded by a committee-member.
To upload your summaries, go to the folder entitled “Colloquium Spotlight Research Talks” on Blackboard. Open the folder “Upload Summaries”. Please note that the latest Spotlight may be the last in the list. In the folder named with the date of the last Spotlight, there will be two folders with the names of the speakers. Click on the name of the speaker and upload your summary of the talk of that speaker.
The coordinator Dr. B.E Snaar-Jagalska will determine the final grade for students of this course. If necessary, any additional grading will be determined by Dr. K. Vrieling, Dr. A.P. Haramis and Dr. D.E. Rozen. The examination card needs to be signed by one of them.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
The student is trained to write short reports from oral scientific presentations. The aim of the student should be to give a good summary of the talk explaining the aim, background and results of the research presented by the speaker. Finally, the student can discuss the importance of the results or its impact.

Final qualifications:
The student has obtained general knowledge about the research within the IBL and associated Institutes. This covers the different aspects of Biology represented by the different IBL groups. Furthermore, the student has learned to summarize the essentials of an oral presentation by writing a condensed abstract of the talk.


Lectures are at 15.30 at the Sylvius building at the first Thursday of each month, with the exception of a summer break. You an find up-to-date information about dates, speakers and titles at . Students can begin attending the Spotlight meetings at any time of the year. They may miss lectures and attend lectures in different years. Students are required to sign up with the coordinator at their first attendance.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Within two weeks of each Spotlight (two talks) students submit a short report about the lectures (no longer than 1 A4 for each talk), summarizing the main question(s) and findings of the speakers and to what extent they answered these questions in their talks.
Students have to follow 9 Spotlights (=18 lectures) in order to receive 3 EC.
The IBL Symposium counts for 3 Spotlights (1 EC). Attending and summarizing 6 talks of the yearly IBL Symposium can substitute for attending 3 Spotlights (= 6 lectures). The 6 submitted summaries should include the 4 keynote lectures (invited speakers) and 2 other lectures of your choice. As with ordinary Spotlight summaries, IBL Symposium summaries have to be uploaded within two weeks of the Symposium.
The Tinbergen lecture (and its introductory lecture) also counts as 1 Spotlight summary. These summaries also have to be uploaded within two weeks after the lectures.
Lectures can be followed in different years, as long as a total of 9 Spotlights (=18 lectures) are attended.
Summaries graded lower than 6 do not count towards course completion, but can be rewritten for credit after consulting with the responsible committee member.
The new rule (9 Spotlights = 3 EC) counts for all new MSc students who started the Spotlight seminar from September 2013, others follow previous rule (9 Spotlights = 4EC).


Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

After lectures it will be possible to ask some questions to the speakers and coordinator. The lecture summaries should be uploaded to blackboard using the “Upload Summaries” within two weeks after the Spotlight.


Via Usis

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


The spotlight lectures will be followed by drinks and an informal discussion.