Grad School Ambassadors 2018

First Year Program

Orientation:  Incoming students are required to attend GGD Orientation, which generally takes place the week before classes start.  During this time, students will complete required training and paperwork necessary for their program.  It is our goal to have administrative requirements completed before the start of classes in order to allow students to concentrate on the academic part of their program.

Included in the mix with administrative requirements and training are activities designed to welcome you into the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics (MBG) and the Field of GGD.  The GGD Graduate Student Association will have social programs for incoming students.  The MBG Annual Welcome & Awards Ceremony is held at the beginning of the fall semester and is a good way to meet the students, staff, and faculty in an informal, non-lab setting.  The MBG graduate community includes students and faculty from the Fields of Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology (BMCB) and Biophysics.

Rotations:  All graduate students in GGD are required to complete three rotations during their first year in the program.  Laboratory rotations are a very effective way for new graduate students to get acquainted with faculty and their lab members.  They provide an opportunity for graduate students to explore, in some depth, areas they are considering for their Ph.D. thesis research.  In addition, they allow both graduate students and faculty to test out possible working relationships.

Early in the Fall semester, all faculty interested in hosting rotating GGD students will give a short talk describing their research.  All first-year students are required to attend all of these talks.  Using the information in these talks, the students determine which research projects they find most interesting and contact the faculty to set up meetings to discuss the possibility of a rotation in that lab.  Faculty may review previous rotation evaluations in order to help them make a decision.  Once an agreement has been reached, students inform the DGS and the GFAs of where they will be rotating.

Rotation Periods 2023-24

  • First Rotation:  September 5 – October 27, 2023
  • Second Rotation:  October 30 – December 22, 2023
  • Third Rotation: January 8 – March 1, 2024

Please note that graduate students do not follow the undergraduate academic calendar. Because you are paid a twelve-month stipend, you are expected to be active in academics and/or research unless the university itself is closed.  During your first year any time away should be discussed with the DGS and your rotation supervisors.  Refer to the web page on Current Student Funding for details of time away.

What is expected of a graduate student on rotation?

While no one objects to a graduate student completing a project and writing a paper for publication during a rotation, no one expects it either!  What is expected is self-motivated earnest effort, independent thinking, and the fullest participation possible in the intellectual life of the laboratory, culminating in a written description of the project and record of the progress made.  You should have a frank discussion of lab expectations at the beginning of each rotation and again at the end for an evaluation and constructive feedback on the rotation.  Regular communication with your faculty supervisor(s), and, in subsequent years, your Special Committee, is a vital component of your success.

Usually, by the end of the third rotation, you will have had a conversation with faculty whose lab you are interested in joining for your thesis research.  Please note, faculty should not commit to accepting a student into their lab until the end of the third rotation.  This is designed to ensure all students have the fair chance of completing their third rotation before faculty make their final decisions.  However, students are encouraged to have a clear and honest discussion with interested faculty about the possibility of joining their labs ahead of time, in order to gauge the likelihood of joining a particular lab, and whether an additional rotation will be necessary.  Students who need to initiate the fourth rotation should consult with the DGS.

All first-year students are expected to have been accepted into a lab by March 15.  You must inform the DGS and GFAs by that date; there is administrative work that is required to shift your funding and we do not want you to experience a gap in your stipend. In order to make your choice official in the University system, please go to your Student Center, remove the DGS of your Field as your temporary Chair (“DGS” role) and add your faculty mentor as Chair.

Students who need to initiate the fourth rotation should consult with the DGS. A student who is unable to identify a mentor by May 15 will not be able to continue in the program.

First Year Assessment

The evaluation of first-year students is based on grades received from courses taken and rotation evaluations. Students should refer to the Benchmarks document received at Orientation (and available in the MBG Graduate Community Intranet) for details of courses to be taken in the first year. Students are expected to take 12 credits of GRADED courses during their 1st year in the program.

Rotation Evaluations:  Supervising faculty in each rotation are required to meet with the student to discuss rotation expectations before the start of the rotation and performance at the end.  Constructive feedback is important for students and should be designed to help them not only in subsequent rotations but also in their graduate program.  A Rotation Evaluation Form must be filled out by the faculty and the signed copy given to the GRA.
These evaluations are vital to the evaluation of the first-year class.  The GGD Advisory Committee meets at the end of each year to evaluate the first year class.  A student who has not joined a lab or is judged not to have made satisfactory progress is asked to leave the program.

In the absence of persuasive mitigating circumstances, students with the following performance in their first two semesters will be asked to leave the GGD program:

    • Inability to identify a thesis mentor
    • OR Two C grades in core courses
    • OR One C grade in core courses AND one failed rotation (grade C or below)
    • OR Cumulative GPA < 3.0 in core courses AND one failed rotation (grade C or below)