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Laboratory Rotations
closeup image of a student's hands working at the lab bench

Rotations Overview

The Associate Department Head for Graduate Education, Dr. Ken Keiler, is in charge of advising students about academic and related matters until they have chosen a dissertation research adviser. The dissertation research adviser must be a member of the BMMB graduate faculty. To help students learn about faculty research, each student undergoes laboratory rotations doing experimental projects in at least three faculty laboratories before deciding on their research area. Students generally select their dissertation research adviser at the end of their first semester. The selection process requires that there be a mutual acceptance by both the student and the faculty member. Students should only consider laboratories that have open positions for new graduate students. Openings in laboratories vary depending on available funding and space in a particular laboratory.

Placement for the first rotation will occur following the initial advising session during the week before classes begin. Although the first rotation is assigned by the Associate Department Head for Graduate Education, every effort will be made to allow students to rotate in their preferred laboratories. To facilitate placement for the first rotation period, incoming students are given a list of faculty whose labs are open to rotation students along with a brief summary of their research. Incoming students are encouraged to communicate with faculty members who are accepting new students prior to their arrival in August. If a rotation agreement is reached prior to the advising session, that agreement will specify the first rotation assignment.

Interested faculty have the option to give 15-20 minute presentations on their research and laboratory to all first year BMMB students. These talks take place during the first three weeks of classes. These talks assist students in identifying faculty mentors for the second and third rotations.

Placement for the second and third rotations will be determined as follows. Students should schedule an appointment to speak with each faculty member that they may want to rotate with. These meetings should be completed within the first four weeks of the first rotation period. Faculty will sign a form specifying that they agree to have the student rotate in the second or third rotation period (form provided to each student by the Director of Graduate Affairs). These forms should be turned into the Director of Graduate Affairs at least one week before the second rotation begins.

BMMB requires all rotation mentors to fill out an evaluation form at the end of the rotation to assess the students strengths and weaknesses. Faculty must meet with the students in person to discuss the evaluation. After the meeting, faculty and student sign the form and return to the Graduate Program Coordinator. The goal of this evaluation is to facilitate open discussion with the faculty member and the student in regards to how the rotation went. Faculty and students may also discuss interest in joining or having the student join the lab, if desired.

Note: BMMB students are reminded that there may be graduate students from other programs also competing for the same laboratory slots.

Final lab placement following rotations is a mutual decision made between a student and a faculty member. At the end of the 3rd rotation period, a student should meet with a prospective faculty mentor and if both parties agree, both the student and the faculty will sign the same form indicating that they have agreed on a permanent lab assignment. The signed document is returned to the Director of Graduate Affairs. Permanent lab assignments are subject to approval of the BMB Department Head.

Students that have not identified a suitable dissertation research adviser at the end of the 3rd rotation period are directed to meet with additional prospective faculty members to arrange for rotations during the spring semester. If the student is unable to obtain a dissertation research adviser by the end of the spring semester, the student will no longer be enrolled in the BMMB graduate program.

  • Rotation Period 1: August 26 - September 27
  • Rotation Period 2: September 30 - November 1
  • Rotation Period 3: November 4 - December 13 (includes Fall break)
  • Rotation Period 4: January 6 - February 7
  • Rotation Period 5: February 10- March 20 (includes Spring break)
  • Rotation Period 6: March 23 - April 24