Curriculum

The Graduate School does not set course requirements; these are set by the Field of GGD and your Special Committee.  You should talk to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and/or your Special Committee about the courses that you should take.  Dates for course enrollment are set by the University Registrar (https://registrar.cornell.edu/).  Make sure that you register in accordance with the published dates.  NOTE:  The Graduate School will only consider Course Enrollment Petitions in extremely extenuating circumstances.

Federal regulations require that all students enroll in at least 12 credit hours/semester.  First-year GGD students are required to enroll in 12 credits of graded courses, but beyond the first year, you should not feel obligated to enroll in 12 credit hours of actual coursework unless your DGS/Special Committee consider(s) it necessary.  Enroll only in the courses that you need/want to take.  In the fall and spring semesters, the Graduate School will enroll students in their Graduate Dissertation Research course in order to ensure that your record reflects 12 credit hours.  

Summer Enrollment:  All graduate students are required to enroll in the Graduate Dissertation Research (via Student Center) for the summer; the deadline for this is the end of May.  This is necessary if you are receiving a stipend or plan to use university facilities such as libraries, computer centers, and the Gannett Health Center.  (Please note:  If you register after May 31, FICA taxes will be withdrawn from your paycheck.)

Time Away From the University:  The graduate student schedule/calendar does NOT follow the undergraduate schedule.  Graduate students are paid on a 12-month stipend and are expected to be present and actively working on their academics and research project unless the university itself is officially closed.  If you plan on being gone for a significant period of time, you must have the approval of your advisor and notify the Graduate Field Assistant of your intentions.

Required Coursework in GGD Major

The Field of Genetics, Genomics and Development has a core curriculum comprised of a small set of courses designed to foster critical thinking skills and to provide foundational knowledge in Genetics, Genomics and Development.  Graduate students must take the following courses prior to graduating.  Please note that GGD graduate students are expected to take a minimum of 12 credits of GRADED courses during their first year in our program.

  • BIOMG 7810: Problems in Genetics and Development (Fall, first year)
    All entering students take this course in the Fall semester of their first year. This course will combine didactic lectures with student-led presentations and critical analysis of key literature on topical issues in genetics, genomics, and development.   
  • BTRY 6010: Statistical Methods or equivalent, (Fall, first year)
    This course develops and uses statistical methods to analyze data arising from a wide variety of applications. Topics include descriptive statistics, point and interval estimation, hypothesis testing, inference for a single population, comparisons between two populations, one- and two-way analysis of variance, comparisons among population means, analysis of categorical data, and correlation and regression analysis. Introduces interactive computing through statistical software. Emphasizes basic principles and criteria for selection of statistical techniques.
    (Students may substitute this course with one of the following courses:  BIOMG 8340: Quantitative Biology for Molecular Biology & Genetics; BTRY 6381: Bioinformatics Programming; BTRY 6830: Quantitative Genomics & Genetics; BTRY 6840: Computational Genomics; BTRY 6700: Applied Bioinformatics).
  • BIOMG 7800: Current Topics in Genetics and Development (seminar course). Students will be required to take three BioMG7800 courses, with one on grant proposal writing, one focusing on material presented by each week’s MB&G seminar speaker, and a third one of student’s choice, but not a repeat of the above two.
    • Grant proposal writing course (Fall, first year) will be co-taught by two or three GGD field faculty members and offered in the fall semester each year. It is required by all first year GGD students. The purpose of the course is to teach students how to write a successful research proposal, mainly in the NSF predoctoral fellowship format.  Each student will be required to put together an application during the first month of the fall semester. The proposals will be critiqued by fellow classmates and the faculty instructors through a series of mock review panels. After revising and hopefully improving the proposals through this exercise, all eligible students will submit their proposals to the NSF for real at the end of the class. Before arriving on campus, incoming first year students will be informed by the DGS of this Proposal Writing Course and that their first rotation mentors will serve as their proposal-writing mentors (see more in Laboratory Rotations). They will be asked to research the field website to find possible first rotation mentors that they can either contact before their arrival, or talk to right after they arrive, on campus. The students will then work with their mentors to come up with a research topic and proposal.
    • The other two forms of BioMG7800 emphasize presentation skills; generally, each student presents one seminar per course based on current research literature in the course topic.  Students will be given formal feedback on their presentation by course instructors.  This course is led by different faculty members each semester so that the focus varies. Each year, one to two BioMG7800 courses focused on a specific topic, and one BioMG7800 based on the MB&G seminar series will be offered.  The latter is designed to encourage discussion of experiments performed by the speaker and his/her field of interest.
  • Three courses in a Breadth Requirement
  • A course on ethical issues in science (e.g., BIOMG 7510 Ethical Issues and Professional Responsibilities)– All students are required to take this or a comparable course in scientific ethics.   BioMG7510 is offered in the Spring semester.  The opportunity to discuss these issues openly will be an important and valuable part of your graduate training.
  • Seminar Courses: All GG&D students also are required to attend and participate in the Wednesday Field Seminars (12:20 pm; BIOMG7860) and in the Friday Molecular Biology & Genetics Seminars (4:00 pm; BIOMG7870). (See individual seminar course tabs)
  • Additional course requirements, including the graduate minor, are set by the members of the student’s Special Committee. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their breadth and minor requirements by the end of their first year.

Grade Expectations: For courses with a letter grade, students are expected to receive a B (3.0) or better in order to remain in good standing in the program. Grades below B- in a student’s major area do not constitute satisfactory performance, and the course(s) must be retaken if it is a required course. If a student receives a grade below B- in two or more classes, he/she is at risk of being asked to leave the program.

GGD Breadth Requirement

GGD students are to take a minimum of three courses from the list below (categories A-E) with at least one course taken from each of three separate categories. The Field recommends that a student with limited background in a particular category take a course in that group that stresses fundamental concepts. Note that classes a student takes in the breadth requirement can count towards the minor requirement.  Although some courses are listed in multiple breadth categories, a single course cannot be counted more than once for the breadth requirement.

Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cellular Biology

  • BIOMG4370   Cell Proliferation and Senescence (F)
  • BIOMG6310   Proteins: Structure, Function and Dynamics (F)
  • BIOMG6330  Biosynthesis of Macromolecules (F)
  • BIOMG6390   The Nucleus (S)
  • BIOMG6360   Functional Organization of Eukaryotic Cells (S)
  • BIOPL4440    Plant Cell Biology (F)
  • BIOPL4620    Plant Biochemistry (S)

Development

  • BIOMG4450  Stem Cell Biology: Basic Science and Clinical Applications (S)
  • BIOMG4610   Development and Evolution (S) – offered alternate springs
  • BIOMG6870   Developmental Genetics (S) – offered alternate springs
  • BIOPL4220    Plant Development (F)

Genetics

  • BIOMG4860   Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics (S)—not currently offered
  • BIOMG4850   Bacterial Genetics (F)
  • NS6080           Epigenetics (F)
  • PLBR 6060     Advanced Plant Genetics (S)

Genomics

  • BIOMG4000  Genomics (F)
  • BIOMG4870  Human Genomics (F)
  • BTRY6010     Statistical Methods (F)
  • BTRY6381     Bioinformatics Programming (S)
  • BTRY6830     Quantitative Genomics and Genetics (S)
  • BTRY6840     Computational Genomics (F)
  • BTRY6700     Applied Bioinformatics (F)

Population Genetics and Evolution

  • BIOMG4810   Population Genetics (F)
  • BIOMG4840   Molecular Evolution (S)—not currently offered
  • BIOMG4870   Human Genomics (F)
  • BTRY 6830    Quantitative Genomics and Genetics (S)
  • BIOEE4800    Ecological Genetics (S)
  • BTRY 4/6820 Statistical Genomics: Coalescent Theory & Human Population Genomics
Mandatory Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

The integrity of research conducted at Cornell University is of the utmost importance to the institution as well as to the Field of GGD. Cornell is committed to promoting and supporting the ethical and responsible conduct of research across all disciplines so that our researchers are provided an environment in which they may continue to conduct preeminent research, maintain the public’s trust in the excellence of our research, adn prepare current and future generations to similarly contribute to research discovers that will adress and advance national and global needs.  As a result, all students are required to take the on-line RCR training in their first year of study.  For more information and to access the training, go to http://www.oria.cornell.edu/rcr/index.html.   

In addition, all GGD students are required to participate twice in the Annual RCR Symposium, organized by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, offered in January of each year.  GGD graduate students are also required to take BIOMG 7510, Ethical Issues and Professional Responsibilities. 

In addition, each student must participate in lab group meetings where RCR is discussed once a year and report the date of that meeting on their annual progress report.

Wednesday Graduate Student Seminars (BIOMG 7860)

GGD Field seminars take place from 12:20-1:20 pm Wednesdays in 226 Weill Hall.  All graduate students give seminars to present their research progress.  Students join the cycle in their second year and present their work at least once a year.  Second and third year students are only expected to give a half hour talk.  Students in their final semester are not required to give a field seminar but can opt out of presenting ONLY IF they plan to give a B-exam seminar during that same semester.  In such cases, the student must have set a specific date for their B-exam with the approval of their committee and also must notify the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Field Assistants prior to the start of the semester. 

Data Reproducibility:  The first week’s session will be a panel discussion of data reproducibility issues in contemporary GG&D-related research areas, led by the DGS and the Program Director along with 1-2 additional faculty.  Subsequently, all students will be asked to include at least 1-2 slides in their presentation about this issue.  These could include, for example: specific measures they have taken to validate the reproducibility of their own data, challenges they have faced in reproducing published data sets, how they are documenting and making available to others their data analysis procedures, and/or how data reproducibility issues are being considered for future experiments.  These changes will augment our long-standing emphasis on critical discussion of experimental design that has always been a major element of the student seminars.

A draft schedule of Field seminar assignments will be circulated at the beginning of each academic year.  Students should notify the Graduate Field Assistant if they have a scheduling conflict with their assigned slot.  Once the schedule is set at the beginning of the semester, students that want to reschedule their talk must find another student willing to switch slots with them. Students will be given ample notice of the date of their seminar, and must submit a title and short abstract to the Graduate Field Assistants (gendev@cornell.edu) one week before their talk so that it can be distributed to members of the Field.

Please note that attendance will be taken at the Wednesday Field Seminars (you must register for this course); students are required to attend at least 2/3 of the seminars in order to receive a satisfactory grade in BioMG7860.

MBG Friday Seminar (BIOMG 7870)

The Friday MBG Seminar is held at 4:00-5:00pm every Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters, and occasionally during the Summer, in the G10 Biotechnology Building Conference Room.  These talks are given by scientists visiting from other institutions and provide an opportunity to hear and meet some of the most distinguished researchers in the area of biochemistry, molecular and cell biology.  

Speakers are usually invited and hosted by faculty members, but one or two slots every semester are reserved for student-invited speakers.  The student representatives typically solicit suggestions for names for possible speakers.  Students also often suggest names of speakers to their major professor.  

Coffee, tea and cookies are available at 3:45pm.  There is a happy hour after that allows you to interact with faculty, students and postdocs on an informal basis.  

If you are interested in talking individually with a speaker, you should contact the faculty host of that particular speaker.

Required Courses in the GGD Minor

Students who want to minor in Development concentration of the GGD are required to take two courses in Development beyond BioMG3850.  Note that BioMG3850 should be taken in addition to these two courses if a student lacks the appropriate background.  Participation in a weekly Developmental Biology Journal Club is strongly encouraged.

Students who want to minor Genetics concentration should consult with their committee members about appropriate course requirements- has no formal requirements; individual course requirements may be specified by your committee members (usually 2 or 3 advanced courses at the 400 level or above and BIOMG 2810, if necessary).

Note that requirements are determined by Special Committees, and that the recommendations above are guidelines offered by the Field.

Mini-Courses

Mini-courses are just that –  courses that are shorter than traditional semester-long courses.  They are based on a specific research topic offered by individual faculty, so offerings vary each semester and from year to year.  

There are sometime workshops offered which can count toward the mini-course requirement.