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College of Graduate Studies

CGS 720/721 Laboratory Rotations and Advisor Selection

Program and Advisor selection form pdf

Student Evaluation of Lab Rotation

Laboratory Rotation Mentor Selection

Laboratory Rotation Grade Report

Jacqueline F. McGinty, Ph.D., Coordinator

First Year Curriculum Ph.D. students are required to enroll in three 8 week laboratory rotations spanning Fall (2 rotations) and Spring (1rotation) semesters.  All students will rotate through three different laboratories to maximize their exposure to a diversity of mentors, scientific experiences and technologies.  To achieve full credit in the Spring semester, students will be required to attend the seminars and journal clubs of the program in which they are participating.

After three rotations, students will enroll in Spring Selectives, when their breadth of research exposure will productively inform their choice of Selective and the direction of their dissertation work.  At the end of the third rotation, students who have identified a mentor for thier dissertation work will return to the lab and continue their research during the Spring Selective.  Students desiring further research exposure before choosing a dissertation labe can pursue a fourth rotation during their Spring Selective.  The official deadline for mentor selection is May 27th.

In exceptional circumstances, with approval from the Associate Dean in consultation with the Dean, students may rotate twice in the same lab.  Self-funded or mentor-supported students, while not required to rotate through three laboratories in the first year, are still encouraged to do so.

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. Having reviewed each research program in the PhD Program Exposures during the first two weeks of the fall semester and having consulted with graduate faculty of interest, 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. Laboratory resources should be weighed carefully in selecting rotations; students should ensure that space and financial support would be available if they would like to pursue their dissertation research in that mentor’s lab. Doctoral dissertation advisors must be Full Members of the graduate faculty. Eligible faculty are listed here. Schedules for the laboratory rotations and form submission deadlines are shown below.

RotationSubmit ChoicesBeginEndEvaluations Due
FirstSept 10, 2015Sept 16, 2015Nov 6, 2015Nov 6, 2015
SecondOct 30, 2015Nov 9, 2015Jan 15, 2016Jan 15, 2016
ThirdJan 8, 2016Jan 19, 2016Mar 11, 2016Mar 11, 2016

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. McGinty 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. All first year students will give a three-minute “FameLab-style” presentation without slides describing one of their rotation projects to other FYC students and graduate faculty during a "FYC Student Research Day" on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Lab Rotation Papers. At the end of each rotation, students will submit to their mentors and to the Rotation Course Coordinator a 1-2 page description of their lab rotation describing the Aims, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Significance of the research project.

Selection of Dissertation Advisor.  Laboratory Rotations, Program Exposures, Spring Selectives, attendance and participation in journal clubs and seminars, and focused discussion throughout the year with faculty advisors, mentors, and senior students regarding all aspects of available Ph.D. programs should facilitate selection of a program and dissertation mentor by the end of the spring semester. In addition, students should discuss with each Principal Investigator in whose lab they rotate the prospects (including potential stipend funding) for performing their dissertation research in that lab. Students should submit a Dissertation Advisor selection form to the Graduate Office by May 27, 2016. Students will join the mentor’s laboratory no later than June 1, 2016.


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