Because it is essential that candidates have a firm training in biology and experimental techniques, a crucial component of the GCB curriculum is research rotations in the laboratories of GCB-affiliated faculty. Students in this program are required to do three lab rotations as part of their training. The definition of a lab rotation is flexible and includes the possibility of rotations in a computer science lab (for example, the application of data mining techniques to biological information sources) or a course of directed reading and research in mathematics/statistics, but students should expect to spend at least 25 hours per week in their rotation lab. At least one rotation must be a wet-lab project, and one must be computational.
Each rotation lasts 11 weeks, with the first rotation beginning towards the end of September, the second rotation beginning during the first week of January, and the third rotation beginning in late March and running until mid-June. Students submit a one-page report at the end of the rotation, and will be evaluated and graded by the supervising faculty member. The dissertation laboratory is usually chosen from one (or more) of these rotation labs, although this is not required. To ensure breadth of the training experience, all laboratory assignments must be approved in advance by the GCB Chair or the Chair of the Advising Committee.