Graduate Student Research Rotations
In preparation for selecting a laboratory for their dissertation work, first- year students are also expected to do a minimum of two research rotations. In these rotations (typically lasting six to 10 weeks), students begin to learn both the technical and the critical analytical aspects of performing research at the bench. An academic mentor will be appointed for each new student to guide him/her through the first year until a dissertation advisor is chosen.
Once a student chooses a permanent research advisor, dissertation research toward the PhD can begin in earnest, under the guidance of both the advisor and a dissertation committee. The candidacy (or qualifying) examination is taken at an appropriate point during the second year. This exam takes the form of a written research proposal, followed by an oral defense of the proposal before a candidacy examination committee.
In the final years of study, students meet at least yearly (often more frequently) with their dissertation committee to assess progress in research and maturity as a scientist. Graduation occurs after the student's dissertation is written, approved and defended at an open seminar. During their research years students will be expected to present research findings at seminars, poster forums and national and international meetings and to publish their data in peer-reviewed journals.