Association for Biology Laboratory Education

ABLE Major Workshops

Give a Major Workshop: share your successful labs with others, get ideas from participants, and add a publication to your CV. Here are the details…

ABLE Participants and Presenters

Founded in 1979, the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) promotes information exchange among university and college educators actively concerned with teaching biology in a laboratory setting. The focus of ABLE is to improve the undergraduate biology laboratory experience by promoting the development and dissemination of reliable engaging laboratory exercises. Conference participants and presenters are instructors who either teach or coordinate undergraduate biology laboratories. Examples of past programs are available on this ABLE web site. During the three days of the meeting, each of the approximately 150+ participants will be involved in four different 2- to 3-hour Major workshops held on Wednesday and Thursday, and several mini workshops held on Friday.

Selection Process and Peer Review

Workshops are selected by a peer review committee each year. The criteria for selection are detailed in the following document:Criteria rubric for selection (opens as a PDF file). Conference vendors may participate in the presentation of a Major Workshop only if they are partnered with a faculty or staff from an academic institution who is teaching the exercise to students and who is the primary author and presenter of the Major Workshop.

In addition to the peer review screening during the selection of workshops, three other peer review stages give the presenter useful feedback before the laboratory exercise is published in the conference proceedings:

  1. a written assessment (opens as a PDF file) is solicited from the approximately 40 participants in the morning and afternoon workshop sessions;
  2. a small number of participants of the session are asked to complete a more comprehensive review; and
  3. the Proceedings Editor reviews the chapter.

Information about Workshops


Each major workshop is 2- to 3-hours long and is usually given twice in the same day (either Wednesday or Thursday of the conference). During the workshop, participants will perform the actual student exercise, or at least critical parts, and discuss the background and context of the lab. While many participants are interested in introductory labs, presentation of intermediate or advanced labs is appropriate as well.

Equipment and Supplies

The host institution typically provides laboratory equipment and materials for major workshops. You are asked to specify your requirements on the application.

The host may ask presenters to bring some equipment (e.g., micro pipettors) if too many workshops are requesting the same type of equipment at conflicting times. If the host cannot provide certain equipment or supplies, we will alert you and give you the option of still presenting if you are able to provide this material.

Animal Use: The use of vertebrates in a major workshop requires that an animal care protocol be approved by the host institution. As a presenter you will be sent a copy of the host institution animal use protocol to be completed and returned to the host institution by late January to allow time to process.

Major Workshop Timeline

  1. Application deadline: Usually October 31st. The application process includes an on-line Application Form and either a pdf or MS word document that includes:
    • Workshop title and name(s)of presenters
    • Abstract describing the proposed workshop (300 words maximum).
    • Student laboratory handout (what students in the class would be given).
    • A list of equipment and supplies needed for a class of 25 students.
    • Notes for the Instructor on how the experiment works.
    • Sample results.
    • A description of how you will present the laboratory to conference participants.
    • Student/TA evaluations of this exercise as a learning experience (optional)
  2. Acceptance by selection committee by January 15th.
  3. Conference announced on the ABLE website in the middle of February. This announcement will include the abstract from your application. Each Major workshop is given one conference registration fee waiver.
  4. Binder materials (electronic form of student lab exercise, instructor notes, preparation instructions, equipment and materials list, information about sources and suppliers for materials, and if possible student evaluation feedback on this lab) due in March usually–an email will go out to primary presenters giving the exact date. We strongly suggest this material follows the format needed for the Proceedings to save you additional editing later. For samples see previous articles on the ABLE website and the specific Proceedings guidelines for Major Workshops. The binder materials will be submitted to the conference host committee.
  5. During the summer, you will be sent the peer review comments about your workshop to guide your final edit of the chapter before submitting to the Proceedings by October 1st. Upon publication of the Proceedings, each workshop will receive a $200 honorarium.
  6. Edited chapter of your lab for the Proceedings by October 1st, submitted via the ABLE website.

Major Workshop Committee

If you have questions or need additional information about major workshops, please contact any member of the major workshop committee.