Section VII: Rotations, Advisor and Advisory Committee

Basic Graduate School policies are stated in Section VII of the Graduate School Handbook.

First-year students are advised by the GSC Chair and/or the Graduate Studies Committee.  Students register under the Program Director’s MCDB 693 class number, or the MCDB 693 class number of the faculty member in whose lab they are rotating.  After the first year, students register quarterly for 999 (Individual Studies) under their advisor’s departmental 999 class number.

All new students participate in the Research Interest Colloquium usually held on three/four consecutive days before the beginning of autumn quarter.  MCDB faculty members who will be accepting student rotations present at the colloquium exposing the students to a variety of research being carried out  by the faculty.

All students are required to do three lab rotations during their first year.   By the end of Spring Quarter, the student is expected to select a thesis advisor (with the concurrence of the faculty member selected) and begin working in their advisor’s laboratory Summer Quarter.  In rare circumstances, the GSC will consider petitions for exceptions to this policy. Faculty members are asked not to offer students laboratory positions until the end of spring quarter, when their final rotation is complete or nearly complete. During each rotation, every student should fill out the MCDB rotation form, which is attached as Appendix J.1. Section 1 will be filled out at the beginning of the rotation and submitted to the MCDB office. Section 2 and 3 will be filled out at the end of rotation and submitted to the MCDB office. Once a lab is selected, the student and faculty member are required to fill out the Advisor agreement form, Appendix J.2, and submit the form to the MCDB program office.

Note:  Students may not choose faculty members outside the program for rotations.  The three rotations must be completed with three different faculty members.

In consultation with their advisor, students entering their second year of study should select at least three additional faculty to serve on their Advisory Committee (at least two of whom must be members of the MCDB faculty).  Once the Committee is selected, the student is required to inform the Program in writing the names of their committee members using the form in Appendix J.3The advisor has the primary responsibility of designing the student’s graduate program.  The Advisory Committee is expected to approve the student’s course of study and continue as the Candidacy Examination Committee and Doctoral Examination Committee.  Only when absolutely necessary may changes in Advisory Committee membership occur, such as when members leave the state or country.   Such changes should be reported to the GSC in a written statement from the student and her/his advisor.  This statement should be presented as soon as possible, especially if occurring between the Candidacy Examination and Dissertation.  The Committee should meet at least annually to review the student’s academic and research progress.  Decisions of the Advisory Committee are to be conveyed to the GSC in writing.

In order to provide our students with regular assessments of their research progress, a standard evaluation form is to be completed by each student’s advisor. 

  • Second year students and beyond, please use Appendix F and submit a copy to the program office by July 31 of each calendar year.

The advisor rates the student’s performance in productivity, interaction and creative input in the laboratory, literature knowledge, writing and meeting presentations.  Advisors are also encouraged to use the form to make specific recommendations for future improvement and to make any other comments.  The student then reviews the evaluation and may provide comments before it is returned to the MCDB office to be reviewed by the Program Director and added to the student’s file.

This evaluation is a great benefit to faculty, students and the program itself.  Regular progress assessments enhance productivity, helping students to become better scientists. This interaction between student, advisor and Program Director is crucial in averting problems arising from lack of communication or misunderstandings.

Students wishing to change advisors should contact the Program Director.  Students should be aware that communication between advisor and student is vitally important.  Dissatisfaction with the advisor/student relationship should be voiced when it exists.  Situations in which changes of advisor are necessary occur infrequently, but should be handled in such a way that all parties are aware of possible changes.  This is especially relevant to situations in which students are supported by grant-related funds while pursuing a change of advisor without the knowledge of the current advisor.

Rev:  May 2016