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College of Graduate Studies

CGS 720/721 Laboratory Rotations and Advisor Selection

Program and Advisor selection form pdf

Laboratory Rotation Mentor Selection

Laboratory Rotation Grade Report

Paula Traktman, Ph.D., Coordinator

First Year Curriculum Ph.D. students are required to enroll in three 9 week laboratory rotations spanning the Fall and Spring semesters. All students will rotate through three different laboratories to maximize their exposure to a diversity of mentors, scientific experiences and technologies. Students are urged to attend the seminars and journal clubs of the program in which they are participating in order to get a better sense of where they might be most comfortable during their Dissertation work.

The schedule allows time before the start of the laboratory rotations on September 19th for students to meet faculty who are willing and able to accept students, and spreads the rotations out over the full year. At the end of each rotation, students will fulfill evaluation requirements designed to introduce students early to the skills of communicating their work to a variety of audiences in written and oral form.

MS degree students do not sign up for laboratory rotations through the core curriculum. MS degree students should consult with their respective graduate coordinator and/or mentor to decide on the appropriate number of laboratories in which to rotate.

Laboratory Rotation Mentor Selection. Prior to the start of each rotation, students will have the opportunity to meet faculty who are interested and prepared to take new students this year.  The CGS website has a newly designed, searchable "faculty research" database that will allow students to explore the research interests of those faculty who are available to accept students.  CGS is organizing a variet of lunch meetings in which faculty will present overviews of their work, as well as a number of poster sessions for the same purpose.  Attendance at these events is required for first year advisors.  Students are encouraged to meet individually with those mentors who they are considering and to visit the laboratories.  Five days before each rotation begins, students will submit their first and second mentor choices for laboratory rotations via an online form to Keisha Vaughn in the Graduate Office.  Every effort is made to accommodate students' first choices; however, if several students select the same mentor, students who delay deciding and/or submitting their choices may be assigned their second choice of mentor or they may be advised to select another mentor. Students should ensure that their choices are drawn from the pool of faculty who will be accepting students this year.  Doctoral dissertation advisors must be Full members of the graduate faculty.  Schedules for the laboratory rotations and form submission deadlines are shown below.

RotationSubmit ChoicesBeginEndEvaluations Due
FirstSept 14, 2016Sept 19, 2016Nov 18, 2016Nov 28, 2016
SecondNov 21, 2016Nov 28, 2016Feb 10, 2017Feb 17, 2017
ThirdFeb 15, 2017Feb 20, 2017Apr 28, 2017May 5, 2017

Laboratory Safety: Before starting Lab Rotations, all students are required to attend a biosafety seminar addressing issues pertaining to compliance, occupational safety, and biological and chemical hazards. The biosafety website is an invaluable resource in this context.

Laboratory Rotation Guidelines: To improve the lab rotation experience, specific rotation guidelines will be sent by Dr. Traktman to mentors and students at the beginning of each rotation. The objectives of each rotation generally include the following:

  1. To acquaint students with potential dissertation mentors. Students will:
    • Receive a briefing on the research focus of the laboratory
    • Receive 1-3 review and/or research papers to read and discuss with the mentor during the rotation
  2. To introduce students to proper conduct of laboratory science. Students will:
    • Conduct a research study with the goal of understanding the basis for the hypothesis being tested and the general approach to test the hypothesis
    • Participate in weekly group or laboratory meetings
  3. To acquire skill in diverse laboratory techniques. Students will:
    • Learn techniques (theory, limitations, etc) associated with the rotation project by collaborating with a mentor, graduate student, postdoctoral trainee and/or technician
    • Conduct laboratory research throughout the week and weekends when indicated
  4. To acquaint students with the research of other graduate students and faculty, students will attend seminars, journal clubs and other research activities of the department or program.
  5. Mentors will encourage students to present their lab rotation project in an informal venue (eg. talk at a lab meeting) at end of each of the three rotations.

Evaluation of Laboratory Rotations.  At the end of each rotation, mentors will submit an online evaluation form to Keisha Vaughn in the Graduate Office. Prompt submission of the evaluation form allows the Course Director to assign an Honors/Pass/No Pass grade. After completion of the Fall and Spring semesters, the Course Coordinator will submit an aggregate CGS 720/721 grade to Enrollment Management that will appear on the student’s transcript. In addition, students are required to complete an online evaluation of each laboratory rotation. Failure to submit timely evaluations will result in an incomplete grade for the course.

Lab Rotation Talks and Papers. By the end of the three rotations, students will be randomly assigned to participate in one of three formats of post-rotation wrap-up communication:

  • A 3-minute “FameLab-style” presentation without slides describing their rotation projects  to other FYC students and graduate faculty
  • A 12-minute talk and 3-minute question period, with slides, similar to a podium  presentation at a national meeting, describing the Aims, Methods, Results, Discussion  and Significance of the research rotation projec
  • A three-page, written description of their lab rotation describing the Aims, Methods,  Results, Discussion and Significance of the project.

Selection of Dissertation Advisor.  Laboratory Rotations, faculty and program exposures, course experiences, participation in jourmal clubs and seminars, and thoughtful discussions with the Dean, faculty advisors, possible dissertation mentors, and senior students should facilitate selection of a dissertation mentor and a graduate program and by the end of the spring semester.   Students should submit a Dissertation Advisor selection form to the Graduate Office by May 26, 2017. and should join the mentor’s laboratory at this time.


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