Tang came to the MBL to attend the Physiology Course in 1930. Tang’s first impression of the laboratory was its quiet surroundings, focused research, and lively discussions. Tang, in his autobiography, recalled his first experiences at Woods Hole:
"This historical marine biological laboratory consisted of five to six small buildings at a fishing village. At that time, except for one three-floored building that had some modern furnishing inside, all others were all rundown cabins. When people walked inside the rooms, the floor would creak loud. It was in these rundown cabins, hundreds of prominent scientists from the US and Europe as well as other countries gathered together every summer."
It was at the Marine Biological Laboratory that Tang’s scientific dream of seeking the “secret of life” was recognized as valuable and was nurtured. In the memoir Tang wrote more than five decades later, he called his MBL experiences a “scientific engagement,” a “turning point,” and a “cradle for my whole life’s research.” In Woods Hole, Tang met or heard about stories about geneticist T. H. Morgan, cell physiologist Otto Warburg, biochemist Leonor Michaelis, plant physiologist W. J. Osterhout, and embryologist Frank Lillie and physiologist Ralph Lillie from Chicago. Particularly, Tang communicated with the general physiologist Ralph Gerard the most. He enjoyed the heated debates about controversial scientific problems, as well as listening to the stories of the scientists who frequented the MBL.
Most importantly, Tang focused on his life's scientific work during his summers in Woods Hole. At MBL, he learned about the research of Otto Warburg that measured the increase of respiration rate of sea urchin eggs right after fertilization. Tang was also inspired by the quantitative study of energy conversion during muscle contraction done by A. V. Hill and Otto Meyerhof’s attempts to conceptualize “organizational energy” through the differences between intact cell and homogenized cellular materials. These works led Tang to be confident about researching questions related to the theme of “material conversion and morphogenesis, (物质转化，形态发生),” which eventually led him to a productive career in studying energy conversions during development, respiration, and photosynthesis.