Laboratory rotations are an important part of the first year of the Graduate Program. They give students the opportunity to experience different research projects, different laboratory and mentoring styles, and allow the faculty to assess the interests and aptitude of the students. All PhD and MD/PhD students must complete two laboratory rotations (in two different laboratories, and at times a third or a fourth rotation is required) before declaring a dissertation advisor and a Multidisciplinary Training Area. If incoming students were research technicians in an ISMMS laboratory prior to becoming a graduate student, they may choose their former employer as their dissertation advisor, but only after rotating in at least one other laboratory.The rotation facilitates the choice of dissertation advisor and also offers students an exposure to problems and techniques of interest to them. Grading of rotations will be on a Pass/Fail basis.
For each semester, the student should submit the name of the rotation advisor and start date of the rotation no later than the beginning of the semester. This is done via the submission of the Rotation Agreement Form. Several options are available to facilitate the students’ search for labs in which to rotate: 1) A list of Graduate Faculty who are eligible to train PhD students can be found by selecting “Find a Faculty” at the top of the main ISMMS website landing page and then choosing the “Find a Researcher” tab. All faculty listed in this section are members of the Graduate Faculty; 2) Students will also be assigned an initial faculty advisor. These advisors are selected because of their comprehensive vision of our training programs, including up to date information regarding faculty interested in a new PhD student; 3) Graduate School faculty and staff, including the Program Director, Program Administrator, and other staff, are well versed in the active faculty and will provide information; and, 4) Perhaps the best and most up to date information is available from the MTA Directors. Each year, the Directors query their faculty to see who is most interested in a new student. MTA Directors have been selected due to their dedication and commitment to graduate education and as such they are a valuable resource to students. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
A typical rotation time is 9-13 weeks during the academic year and 6-8 weeks in the summer.
Once a student has completed a rotation, the Rotation Evaluation Form must be filed by both student and faculty.
Summer rotations preceding matriculation must be at least six weeks long (start the first week in July).
Students will be required to make a formal presentation in an appropriate venue following the first rotation and following either the second or third rotation.
To facilitate and optimize the rotation experience for both the student and the faculty mentor, it is important that this student-faculty pair meet prior to the start of the rotation to discuss expectations, goals, requirements and laboratory guidelines. The discussion should be recorded on the Laboratory Rotation Agreement Form so that both the student and the rotation advisor are in agreement about what each expects from the other. The Form must be submitted to the Graduate School at the beginning of each rotation.
When considering a laboratory for rotation, the student is urged consult multiple sources included current and previous laboratory members to gain a better idea of the laboratory’s approach to science and training and the success of previous trainees.
During the laboratory rotation, the student has to be aware of the balance that needs to be maintained between research and study time for ongoing courses. Students are expected to spend about 50% of their time (about 20 hours/week) on the laboratory rotation.Good time management can optimize the experience in that particular laboratory. The student should select a laboratory only after s/he has met with the mentor and discussed expectations, goals, and motivation.
At the end of each rotation, the student and rotation advisor should discuss the rotation experience and the rotation advisor must complete the Laboratory Rotation Evaluation Form, which must be submitted to the Graduate School at the end of each rotation. In general, the evaluations from the first three rotation advisors (two if only two rotations are completed prior to declaration of the dissertation advisor) will determine the composite grade (Pass or Fail) assigned for the Rotations.
If a student in the PhD in Biomedical Sciences or Neuroscience programs is not accepted into a laboratory by the conclusion of the third semester (fifth semester for MD/PhD students), (s)he will be reviewed by the Committee for Academic Review for a failure to make satisfactory progress. Dismissal from the program is a possible outcome of this review.