Section XI: Rotations, Advisor and Advisory Committee


XI.1  Committee

First-year students are advised by the Program director or co-director(s) and a first-year advisor who is normally a member of the Graduate Studies Committee.  Students that are conducting laboratory research rotations register for MCDBIO 7780.  Once they have joined a lab, they register for 8999 dissertation research in the home department of their dissertation advisor.

XI.2  Research Rotations

All students are required to do three lab laboratory research rotations during their first year.  The three rotations must be completed with three different faculty members who must be MCDB Mentoring Faculty.  Students may not rotate in the laboratories of faculty who are not Mentoring Faculty in MCDB.  Additional rotations are not automatic and only possible after consultation with, and the approval of the director or co-directors.  At the beginning of each rotation, the student and faculty member must complete and sign Section 1 of the MCDB Rotation Information form. The student is responsible for submitting this form to the MCDB Program Office at the beginning of the rotation.  At the end of the rotation, the student and faculty member must complete and sign Sections 2 and 3 of this form.  The student is responsible for submitting this form to the MCDB Program Office at the end of the rotation.

XI.3  Advisor

Students are expected to select a dissertation advisor by the end of their third rotation.  Advisors must be Mentoring Faculty in the MCDB Program.  This selection must be formalized by completion and submission of the Advisor Agreement form.  The student is responsible for ensuring that this form is completed and submitted to the MCDB Program Office.  Once the Advisor Agreement form has been submitted, the student may begin their training in the advisor's laboratory.  Faculty members are asked not to offer students laboratory positions until the middle of Spring Semester, when the student’s third and final rotation is complete or nearly complete.

Mentoring faculty whose highest degree was awarded by this university may not serve as an advisor for former fellow students, nor may they serve on those students’ candidacy or doctoral examination committees.  Faculty may not serve as the advisor to students who are family members or whose relationship with the advisor might pose a potential conflict of interest.

The advisor has responsibility for designing and overseeing the student’s graduate training and serves as the student’s primary mentor.  In most cases a student will have a single advisor who is the PI of the laboratory in which the student is conducting his or her dissertation research.  In the case of collaborative projects, the student may have different mentors for different portions of their project.  In that case, the mentor that is supporting the student financially shall be considered the student’s advisor of record.  If the financial support of the student is shared between two Mentoring Faculty, then those faculty can be considered co-advisors in which case they both assume all the responsibilities that come with that designation.  However, one advisor must be designated the advisor of record, and that is the faculty member that signs the Advisor Agreement form.

XI.4  Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee consists of the student’s dissertation advisor plus at least three other faculty.  Committee members are selected by the student in consultation with their Advisor.  All committee members must normally have P-status in the Graduate School at OSU.  At least three of the committee members (including the Advisor) should be members of the MCDB faculty with either Mentoring or Non-Mentoring status.  The fourth committee member, and any additional committee members, may be faculty who hold P-status in MCDB or another graduate program at OSU.  Persons that do not have P-status in the Graduate School at OSU, including faculty at other academic institutions, may only be added with the approval of the MCDB director or co-directors and a petition to the Graduate School outlining the special qualifications and expected contributions of the proposed committee member. 

Once the Advisory Committee is selected, the student is required to inform the Program in writing using the Advisory Committee Selection form. Changes in the composition of the Advisory Committee membership may only occur when absolutely necessary, such as when members become unable to serve due to illness or death, or leave the university, and require Program approval.   Requests to add or remove members of the Advisory Committee should be submitted to the Program in a written statement from the student and his or her advisor.  This statement should be submitted as soon as possible, especially if occurring between the Candidacy Examination and Dissertation.

XI.5  The Role of the Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee has both a formative and evaluative function.  The committee members are selected for their expertise in one or more aspects of the student’s dissertation research.  The committee functions to mentor the student in their professional and scholarly development, to advise the student on their dissertation research plans, and to provide critical feedback on the student’s ideas and progress.  The committee should meet with the student as a group at least once each calendar year to review and evaluate the student’s academic and research progress but more frequent meetings are encouraged.  Students in their fifth year and beyond should meet with their committee at least twice a year.  The committee also functions to approve the student’s course of study and to conduct the candidacy and doctoral examinations.  Students are also encouraged to meet individually with their committee members as necessary to build the mentoring relationship and seek specific advice.  However, such one-on-one meetings cannot substitute for the annual group meeting.  Decisions of the Advisory Committee are to be conveyed to the MCDB office in writing.

XI.6  Annual Progress Reports

In order to provide our students with regular assessments of their research progress, students must submit an annual progress report each year, starting in Year 2, using the Annual Progress Report form.  This form contains portions that are to be completed and signed by the student and portions that are to be completed and signed by the Advisory Committee and becomes part of each student’s file.  The completed form should be submitted to the Program office by July 31 of each year, along with an updated curriculum vitae.   It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that these materials are completed and submitted on time.  This requires that the student schedule a meeting with their committee sufficiently far in advance to accommodate the committee members’ schedules.

Advisors and other committee members are encouraged to use the Annual Progress Report form to identify strengths and weaknesses and to make specific recommendations for future improvement.   This form is not a rubber stamp and should not be treated as such.  This evaluation process is a great benefit to faculty, students and the Program itself.  Regular progress assessments enhance productivity, improve communication, and align expectations, helping students to become better scientists.  This interaction between student, dissertation advisor and Program is crucial in averting problems arising from lack of communication or other misunderstandings.

XI.7  Changing Advisors

Students should be aware that communication between the dissertation advisor and student is vitally important.  Dissatisfaction with the advisor/student relationship should be voiced when it exists.  Students wishing to change advisors should contact the Program director or co-director(s).  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 extramural grant funds while pursuing a change of advisor without the knowledge of the current advisor.


Rev: November, 2020