Mentoring Students


By hosting a rotation student, you...

  • assure space and appropriate resources are available in the lab during this period;
  • agree to devote the time necessary to provide a quality learning experience for this student;
  • acknowledge that during the final week of the rotation the student will devote time to preparing a written rotation report; and
  • agree to grade the written rotation report.

Rotation Requirements

  • Students are expected to complete a minimum of three rotations. Once a rotation has been initiated it is expected that the student will complete that rotation, including the written rotation report.
  • The student may also receive rotation credit for lab work in the summer before formal entrance into the program ("headstart"), or the summer following the first academic year. This work must be done in the lab of a BCDB faculty member over at least 8 weeks. The last months of long-term employment as a research specialist or technician will not qualify for rotation credit.
  • Research reports are expected from the student after each rotation. These should be provided to the Director of Graduate Studies and the rotation mentor.
  • This course carries a letter grade to be determined by the overseeing Executive Committee member and rotation mentors.
  • Exceptions to these rules under extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Committee.

Rotation Reports

Following each rotation, a rotation report will be submitted that details the work carried out during the rotation. This rotation report is to be written in the form of a short manuscript such as a Sciencepaper. The goal of this report is to 1) allow the student to reflect on the rotation project and what was accomplished and 2) provide the rotation mentor with a detailed report on the experiments carried out during the rotation.


By accepting a graduate student into your lab to do their dissertation work, you...

  • assure space and appropriate resources are available in the lab for the duration of the student's tenure in the lab; and
  • agree to devote the time necessary to adequately train the student in research, scientific writing, and oral presentation.

Becoming a Thesis Advisor

The GDBBS Advisor-Advisee Agreement Form (PDF) and BCDB Addendum (DOC) must be signed by the student and you, and be approved by the Executive Committee and the Chair of the department in which you hold your primary appointment. The completed form should be delivered to the BCDB Program Office. You also need to complete the Documentation of Funding Sources (DOCX) form and submit it electronically to the BCDB Program Office at

Financial Costs

The GDBBS currently pays a student's stipend in Years 1 and 2 of graduate training. You are responsible for paying the stipend in Years 3 and above. If you have insufficient funds due to a change in funding, you may request a loan from the GDBBS. GDBBS also provides a mechanism to save funds early to pay for a student in later years. See the GDBBS Stipend Reserve Fund for details.

Formation of the Dissertation Committee

Your student should form their committee in consultation with you as soon as possible, but no later than April 1 in Year 2, and must be approved by the Executive Committee. The 5-member committee includes you, at least three faculty members from the BCDB Program, and if possible, one member from outside the BCDB Program which in certain cases may be you. Any three committee members and you will constitute a quorum for committee meetings. You must be present at all meetings.

Frequency of Dissertation Committee Meetings

The first meeting must be held no later than 6 months after passing the Qualifying Exam Part II and should closely follow the student's Advanced Graduate Seminar talk, if possible. Committee meetings must occur every 6 months through Year 5, and every 4 months thereafter.

An important function of the dissertation committee is to ensure that adequate progress is being made at each meeting. The frequency of meetings may be increased at the discretion of the committee at any time. If progress is deemed inadequate, specific goals may be identified, and if those goals are not met, this may constitute grounds for cancellation of stipend support or termination from the program.

Qualifying Exam Part II

This examination is designed to assess the student's ability to integrate different aspects of the first two years of graduate training: including lab work, data interpretation, hypothesis development, research design, presentation of research, and all other course work.

The entire dissertation committee conducts this exam, which is a defense of the student's research proposal as developed in the grants class, and must be held before June 1 of Year 2. You do not actively participate in your student's exam except when the committee specifically directs a question to you. If the committee does not contain a member of the Executive Council, an Executive Council member must be invited. The Executive Council member will chair the exam, but will not otherwise participate in the exam unless they are also a member of the student's dissertation committee.

The exam consists of a 15-minute oral presentation followed by rounds of questioning by the committee.

See the BCDB Guidelines (PDF) for details.

Advanced Graduate Seminar