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Ph.D. Lab Rotations

Lab rotations are a central part of our student’s first year experience. They allow students to explore various areas of biomolecular research and experience different research environments before committing to a single lab to conduct their dissertation research. This also gives faculty an opportunity to assess student aptitude and interest.

Hands-On Experience

  • Laboratory Techniques
  • New Mentoring Styles
  • Collaboration with Students and Mentors
  • Research in Interest Areas
  • Offered during Fall & Spring


  • Students should research and interview prospective faculty mentors to determine who is currently able to take on a doctoral student. This information will be updated on the program’s webpage in the Spring prior to the Fall Semester start date. It is important to choose faculty members from at least two different departments as it is a requirement of lab rotations and will be necessary for choosing your committee.
  • By June 1st, you must notify the program of which labs you want to do rotations through, which includes filling out the “Rotation Agreement Form”. This form will be sent to students beforehand.
  • To optimize the rotation experience for both the student and the faculty mentor, it is important for both individuals to meet prior to the start of the rotation to discuss expectations, laboratory guidelines, and goals. This discussion should be documented on the “Rotation Agreement Form” and submitted to a Program Administrator, such as the Program Director/Coordinator.
  • During each of the lab rotations, the student needs to balance their time with respect to their teaching assignments, research, and coursework. Laboratory rotations should be thought of as “auditions”; not only is the student trying to decide if the mentor and research environment are a good fit for them, but they are also “trying out” for a position in the lab.
  • After a rotation has been completed, the faculty mentor must file the “Faculty Rotation Evaluation Form” within one week.
  • The student should select the laboratory in which they want to complete their dissertation research in after all the rotations have been completed and after they have met with the mentor to discuss long-term expectations, goals, and the overall nature of their dissertation research project.
  • Typically, a student should rotate in a lab only if there is a reasonable option to join that lab permanently, should the rotation go well. Students should not join a lab that is unlikely to have space or financial resources to support a new student in the near future.  Although this is not always an easy topic to discuss, it is an important conversation to have.

Ideally, students should find a good match with a dissertation laboratory by the end of the first semester. All students accepted into the program on teaching assistantships will complete three 5-week long rotations during their first semester before declaring their Major Advisor. Students supported by grant-funded research assistantships are not required to, but may choose to take advantage of the lab rotation process to broaden their expertise in a complementary area – provided that their Major Advisor finds this agreeable.

Faculty Accepting Students in Fall 2023

Not Accepting Students:

  • Dr. Ken Cornell
  • Dr. Daniel Fologea
  • Dr. Cheryl Jorcyk
  • Dr. Julia Oxford
  • Dr. Juliette Tinker
  • Dr. Denise Wingett