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The First Year: Research Rotations & Selecting a Thesis Advisor and Program

Clinical & Population Health Research program students: Please speak to your Program Director for more information.

Basic Biomedical Science students: The information outlined below is not all-inclusive. Please familiarize yourself with all of the requirements as outlined in the Student Handbook

Research Rotation and Thesis Lab Commitment

There are five Research Rotation Sessions – two each in the Spring and Fall semesters, and one in the Summer term.  See Academic Calendar for exact start and end dates. 

Most rotation sessions are eight weeks long, with some variability in length to accommodate observed holidays and academic events. 

Students are required to rotate in three distinct research groups in the first three Rotation Sessions (Fall Session 1, Fall Session 2, and Spring Session 1).  

After completing three distinct rotations, the student has the following options: 

  1. Secure a Thesis Research Commitment and begin thesis research. 
  2. Rotate in a fourth research group.
  3. Return to a prior rotation for a revisit, without securing a commitment.

Students who worked in paid or unpaid research settings at UMMS prior to matriculation, including students in the PREP program, are not permitted to rotate in the lab of their previous mentor prior to the third rotation session, following two rotations in other distinct labs.  

GSBS provides financial support for all students through the entirety of their first academic year, regardless of when a student commits to a thesis research group. 

Thesis Research Commitment forms (BBS05) are due June 1. If a student does not secure a Thesis Research Commitment by June 1, the student will be advised by the GSBS Dean or Dean’s designee on selecting a fifth rotation session in order to obtain a thesis lab commitment.  

In rare, extenuating circumstances, after consultation with Student Affairs and the Academic Standards Committee, the Dean may provide a student with the opportunity to do a sixth rotation in the Early Fall session. 

Tips for Finding Research Rotations

  • Search the Rotation Finder Tool. Faculty listed have self-identified as having rotation opportunities and thesis funding available.
  • View the Virtual Faculty Poster Session website to view posters from the most recent sessions.
  • Having tentatively identified a potential rotation/thesis advisor and after reading some of their publications, ask to meet with them to discuss thesis research opportunities. When you meet, be prepared to discuss their science, the science you have undertaken thus far and the courses you have taken. Ask them if they can or would support you in thesis research if your rotation works out well.
  • Speak with other students in the faculty member's team to understand more about the research environment you would be immersed in for the next several years.
  • Remember that First Year Advisors and Program Directors are available to advise you about rotation and thesis mentors.

Selecting your Program

Program Selection forms (BBS15) are due by June 1.

All Basic Biomedical Science students must complete the core curriculum as well as three advanced topics including those required by their program for specialization.
View course sequence for Basic Biomedical Science doctoral students.

Program Specialization Requirements

For further guidance on program requirements or expectations, please contact the appropriate program director(s)

Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

Students in the Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology program must take 3 advanced topics courses, one of which must be either Chemical Biology or Molecular Biophysics. Elective advanced topic courses can be chosen from among those offered by the program, or relevant courses offered by other GSBS programs. The plan of coursework is designed to be flexible in order to accommodate each student’s needs and areas of interest.
Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology courses

Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

Students in the Bioinformatics & Computational Biology program must take 3 advanced topics courses, two of which must be in Bioinformatics. Elective advanced topic courses can be chosen from among those offered by the program, or relevant courses offered by other GSBS programs. The plan of coursework is designed to be flexible in order to accommodate each student’s needs and areas of interest.
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology courses

Cancer Biology

Students in the Cancer Biology program must take 3 advanced topics courses, two of which must be Histology and Tumor Pathology and Cancer Biology and Medicine
Cancer Biology courses

Immunology & Microbiology

Students in the Immunology & Microbiology program must take 3 advanced topics courses. Students should take Infection and Immune Response in the first year, and, in the second year, at least one advanced level course offered by the Immunology and Microbiology program. Equivalent advanced topics courses can be substituted with permission. All students, except for those in the final stages of their dissertation research, are required to take Graduate Student Seminar each fall semester, and Immunobiology and Microbiology Seminar and Discussion, or an equivalent guest scientist seminar program, for two semesters.
Immuology & Microbiology courses

Interdisciplinary

Students in the Interdisciplinary program must take 3 advanced topics courses. Advanced coursework, journal clubs and other enrichment activities beyond the graduate core course are tailored to the requirements of each student and are determined after discussion between the faculty advisor and student.
Interdisciplinary courses

Neuroscience

Students in the Neuroscience program must take 3 advanced topics courses, one of which must be Introduction to Neuroscience, usually in the spring of the first year. In addition, students must take at least one other course in neuroscience. Courses offered by other programs may be taken to complete the final advanced topic requirement.
Neuroscience courses

Translational Science

Students in the Translational Science program must take 3 advanced topics courses, one of which must be Molecular Basis of Disease. Courses offered by other programs may be taken to complete the final two advanced topic requirements.
Translational Science courses

Administrative Requirements

Students must initiate a Research Rotation Agreement (BBS14) for each lab rotation. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. It is due within 2 weeks of the rotation start date.
Preview BBS14  |  Initiate BBS14 in DocuSign

Students must initiate a Thesis Advisor and Department Financial Agreement (BBS05) once a Thesis Advisor has been selected. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. 
Preview BBS05  |  Initiate BBS05 in DocuSign 

Students must initiate a Program Selection form (BBS15) by June 1 of year one. The form automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. 
Preview BBS15  |  Initiate BBS15 in DocuSign

Rotation Finder Tool

Faculty Posters

Questions?

Ask Annette Stratton
Assistant to the Dean
First Year Administrator
508.856.1938

Ask Dr. Zitzewitz
Foundations Course Director

Ask your First-Year Advisor