School of Molecular
and Theoretical Biology

Frequently Asked Questions

About the school

What criteria are used to evaluate applications to SMTB?

Our admission committee carefully evaluates all aspects of the applications the we receive. Individual experts of the committee use their own reasoning when evaluating an application. At the final meeting the admission committee discusses all applications focusing on applications that have received different marks by experts. Therefore, the admission committee does not use formalized criteria and the decision to accept a student represents the consensus among all of the committee members. The admission committee does not discriminate based on any features of the applicant, explicit or implied.

Why was my application, or the application of my child or student, rejected?

Each year we receive many more applications than we can possibly accept. We are certain, that many students that have not been accepted would have made a wonderful participant of SMTB and could end up being an active research scientists. Our selection criteria are focused on the evaluation of the application materials that we receive without making a value judgement of the individual behind the application. Therefore, we ask all applicants not to take the rejection of their application as a judgement of their talents or abilities. We hope that our decision will not adversely impact anyone’s interest in science and are looking forward to receiving the applications of those students that could participate in the competition the next year.

I do not speak Russian - will that prevent me from participating?

The school is fully bilingual to the extent any educational activity can be made in such a manner. All labs include bilingual faculty, teaching in English and Russian, and are always on hand to translate. A few courses are taught only in one of the two languages, however, in such instances alternatives in the other language are always available. Non russian-speaking students regularly participate in SMTB and even a total absence of any knowledge of Russian does not prevent the full emersion of an English-speaking student into our programme.

I am currently only in 8th grade, can I submit an application?

Yes, but in such instances we ask you to address why you believe you will be able to keep up in a research program that is designed for students a few years older than you. It is also likely that the admission committee will request an additional skype interview.

I am a first year student at the University, can I submit an application?

No. Unfortunately, our programme is for high school students.

I finished school but I am not studying at the University, can I submit an application?

Yes, but in the application please describe the circumstances why you have not yet enrolled at a university.

Can I participate in SMTB as a team leader or member of the faculty?

We would be happy to receive your CV and a short description of your interest in SMTB by email at

Will my knowledge be enough to participate in SMTB?

A motivated and dedicated student should be able to keep up even without an extensive background in biology, learning the necessary background in parallel to working on a research project. Specifically, we welcome applications from students that have previously been focusing on the study of chemistry, physics or mathematics. However, we advise all students to familiarise themselves with the basic principles of molecular and cell biology prior to the start of the school. A list of recommended reading will be distributed to the accepted students.

I am not sure I will be able to participate in August, can I still submit an application?

We ask all applicants to be reasonably certain that they will be able to participate in the school when submitting their application. Furthermore, if you are accepted, we hope that you and your parents will make an effort to ensure your participation. Accepted students that change their minds about coming to the school, especially at the last minute, translate to considerable loss of resources for us and prevent other students from participating.

What is the cost of tuition at SMTB? What may be some other costs associated with participating in SMTB?

One of the founding principles of SMTB is that the financial status of the student's family does not influence admission or participation of any student accepted through the primary call. SMTB fully covers travel insurance for non-EU students, tuition, room and board and other research-associated costs.

We ask for parents to cover the costs for the visa application, the travel to the city with the nearest visa application center (if applicable) and the transportation to the school. However, we will consider requests for financial assistance with the aforementioned costs on a case by case basis. Financial status should in no way influence the decision of any student to send their application. We will do what we can to guarantee the participation of all accepted students.

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School programme

Is there free time at the school?

Most of their time the students spend working on a research project in a laboratory. All students have some free time after dinner, which may be used to visit our studios or as personal free time. Furthermore, after the start of the research projects the students will enjoy one day of rest with plenty of free time.

Which labs will be present at the school this year?

Every year we have some new laboratories at the school. We do not publish the list of laboratories for the coming season on our website. To find out more about areas of focus of the laboratories of the School, you can have a look at the laboratories of previous years. Each year there are about 10 laboratories, including experimental and theoretical ones.

How can I select the laboratory that I want to join?

Students select the laboratory that they want to join in the first few days at the school. We adhere to the principles of having the students make an informed choice. This means that the students select laboratories that they liked after rotations in different labs, where they have a chance to learn about the proposed research and interact directly with the faculty. Furthermore, the students fill out their requests to join specific laboratories together with their adviser, who may help the student in making the choice.

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Is it safe to participate in SMTB?

The faculty and team leaders of SMTB are experienced educators that work hard towards creating a safe, comfortable and accepting environment for all participants. Students are organized into teams of 8-10 individuals under the guidance of 2-3 team leaders. Laboratories are supervised by active research scientists that require all participants to strictly follow all laboratory safety guidelines. Overall, the school enjoys a one to one student to faculty ratio, which includes team leaders and monitors accredited by the government of the country where the School takes place for working and organizing summer programs. SMTB usually takes place in cities with a very low rate of violent crime. The only potential concern is pocket theft. We advise all students not to carry around their passports or large sums of money, with foreign students preferably giving passport to the SMTB staff for safekeeping.

Will someone meet my student in Moscow/Barcelona/Poznan?

Yes, SMTB staff will meet all students at their port of arrival in Moscow, Barcelona, or Poznan for those students not traveling from Russia (depending on where the season of the School take place).

Who will supervise the student during the school?

We have an about one to one student to faculty ratio so that students are rarely doing something without the participation of at least one adult. We pay special attention to safety protocols while students are working in the laboratory and all students must follow rules of behaviour at all other times. Students and their team leaders, as well as most research faculty members reside in the same building, which in turn is supervised by the hostel personnel.

Whom can I contact with questions about the school?

You can write us an email at with any questions. Urgent issues can be addressed to our scientific director, Fyodor Kondrashov, at +43-664-88326214.

Where will the students live?

All students, and most of the faculty, live in one of the student housing buildings of the host university.

What do the students eat during the school?

Meals are organized in one of the cafeterias of the host university. In addition to the three main meals students have access to fruit and other snacks.

Where will the teaching take place?

In 2019 SMTB took place on the territory of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB,, the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG, and the University of Pompeu Fabra (UPF, In 2020 SMTB will take place in Poznan (Poland) at the Faculty of Biology of Adam Mickievicz University.

What if I need to contact my child?

We ask parents not to needlessly interrupt students in the course of their work in the labs or their studies during courses. As a rule, students have free time in the evening, which can be used to chat by Skype over the internet. In instances, when you urgently need to reach your son or daughter you can contact the Scientific Director, Fyodor Kondrashov, at +43-664-88326214.

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General questions

How can I apply for a Schengen visa?

To obtain the Schengen visa, Russian citizens need to have a passport that is valid for foreign travel with an expiration date no earlier than three months after the last day of SMTB. The students are not required to hold a travel passport or visa when applying. Not having these documents in no way will affect the evaluation of the application. Our staff will contact the accepted students and provide the necessary documents for the visa application. If you already have a Schengen visa, please make sure that it is valid up to and including the last day of SMTB.

Are there any documents that I need to fill out before arriving at the school?

The necessary documentation will be sent to all accepted students. They will be related to issues of obtaining a visa, health certification, insurance and official acceptance to SMTB.

What should I bring with me to the school?

A list of recommended things to bring with you will be sent to all accepted students.

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