Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Group

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BMB 699 - Laboratory Rotation

Course Director:
Jeremy E. Wilusz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
363 Clinical Research Building
415 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059
215-898-8862 (office)
215-898-8863 (lab)

  1. The purpose of the Lab Rotation is to provide the student with the opportunity to experience different laboratory environments and different experimental approaches and in so doing, assist him or her in choosing a laboratory for thesis work.

  2. A student is required to do a rotation in three different laboratories. The rotations should be with a member of the Graduate Group; the Chair of the Graduate Group must approve any rotations in a laboratory outside of the Graduate Group. The Chair of the Graduate Group must also approve in writing any exemptions from the three required lab rotations.

  3. In general, all rotations are to be completed by the end of the first year, enabling the student to select a research lab by the beginning of the second year.

    Rotation Start

    Form Due

    Rotation Ends

    Abstract Due

    Rotation Talks

    Rotation 1


    Sept 20


    Dec 1

    Early-Mid Dec

    Rotation 2


    Jan 15


    April 1


    Rotation 3


    April 15


    June 15

    Late June

    Rotation 4 (prn)


    June 30


    Aug 15

    Early Sept*


    * Astudent doing a 4th rotation can choose to present on either Rotation 3 or Rotation 4.

    While there is flexibility in the start and end times of individual rotations, each rotation should be a minimum of 10 weeks in duration and students should be actively in a rotation lab throughout their first year. The exceptions to this timing are pre-matriculation rotations (summer before first year) which should last for 12 weeks. Additionally, third and fourth rotations can be as short at 8 weeks given that increased amount of time in lab when the rotation is not concurrent with classes.

    An incoming student may take Rotation 1 in the summer prior to the Fall semester. The date for the start of the summer semester is different every year, but is usually the first or second week of June. This rotation would end at the end of August, with the abstract due August 15th, and the presentation in early September.

  4. Students should begin to search for a Faculty Supervisor about one month before the beginning of the proposed rotation. An appointment to discuss possible projects should be arranged with the potential Faculty Supervisor. Students are encouraged to talk with several faculty, and to discuss with the Course Director the choice of Faculty Supervisor and other options, prior to making a commitment to a specific laboratory.

  5. The rotation is under the supervision and guidance of the Faculty Supervisor. At the beginning of a lab rotation, the Faculty Supervisor and student are encouraged to discuss and clearly define the goals of the project. A "Lab Rotation Approval Form" with project title must be signed by the Faculty Supervisor, approved by the Course Director, and returned to the Academic Office for placement in the student's file. The Course Director should be notified in case of difficulties or shortcomings that may jeopardize the expeditious and satisfactory progression of the proposal.

  6. Upon completion of the rotation, the Faculty Supervisor must submit a grade and a written evaluation of the student's performance for inclusion in the student's file. A copy of this evaluation may be given to the student upon request. Students are encouraged to discuss the contents of the written evaluation with their Faculty Supervisor. The student will also be asked to provide a confidential evaluation of the lab rotation experience.

  7. For talks and poster presentations, one week prior to the presentations (see below), a 150-word abstract should be submitted to the Course Director and to the Academic Office. The abstract should describe the issue/question motivating the study, the approaches taken to address the issue/ question, and a synopsis of key findings, conclusions and future directions. Failure to submit the abstract in a timely manner will affect the rotation grade. Please also give your abstract a title (which does not count toward the word limit).

  8. End of the semester (fall, spring and summer) lab rotation presentation requirements will be in one of the following formats:

See Suggestions for Talk Preparation and Presentation (80 KB Word document) and attached article on "How to Give A Good Talk".

The talks, poster presentations, and written summaries are requirements for completion of the course. Anyone who fails to complete these requirements will obtain an incomplete for the course. The requirement must be completed by the end of the following semester.

Attendance at the Lab Rotation Talks and the Poster Presentations is required. Unexcused absence from all or part of these sessions will result in reduction of the grade submitted by the Faculty Supervisor by one half grade.

9. The Faculty Supervisor may also require a student to prepare a short report or paper at the completion of the rotation.

10. After completing the three rotations, students should be able to make an informed choice as to a Thesis Advisor. If a student is not able to find a suitable lab after three rotations, he or she can petition the Course Director for permission to do an additional rotation or independent study to find a Thesis Advisor.