Student Handbook


All graduate students in the Field of Genetics, Genomics and Development are required to participate in teaching for one semester and are encouraged to apply for a second semester position in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics or in another department. Most students supported as TAs serve as teaching assistants for the undergraduate Genetics course, BioMG2810. Doing so strengthens and broadens their genetics background and thus serves as a good base for graduate training. Other students serve as teaching assistants for one of the other courses offered by the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. However, a TA position from other departments can also fulfill the TA requirement of GGD.

For a TA position in MBG, see the following guidelines:

The summer before teaching begins, students receive from the Associate Chair of MBG, who makes TA assignments, a list of courses that are given in the Department of MBG, and a list of the responsibilities of TAs in each course. Each student ranks the courses in order of TA preference. While the Associate Chair tries to accommodate these preferences for teaching assignments, the teaching needs of the department take precedence over individual preferences.

Preferences in TA assignment:

1). A student whose thesis advisor is a member of MBG.

2). A student in the Field of GGD or BMCB who has not TAed previously.

3). Any other student.

If no student in the highest priority category is willing or able to TA a particular course, a student from a lower priority category will be chosen.

International TAs are required by the University to have an interview by the International TA Development Program (ITADP) to assess competency in English. Students who receive a 28 or above on the TOEFL are exempt from assessment. In some cases, students from non-English speaking countries are required to take an additional course, given by the ITADP, during their second year to improve teaching skills. Occasionally, students may also be required by ITADP to take an English-as-second language course.

All students who are interested in teaching and improving their teaching skills are encouraged to participate in many of the workshops and symposia organized by the Center for Teaching Excellence at Cornell.

GG&D students should take their teaching duties seriously. Teaching performance is evaluated by the undergraduates in the courses and reviewed by the teaching faculty of the department. This review becomes a part of the graduate record and is included in consideration for TA awards by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and by the Department of MBG (the Joe and Rita Calvo Teaching Award). Furthermore, demonstrated excellence in teaching (communication skills) will greatly strengthen your future applications for jobs, both inside and outside academia.