Graduate Group in Genomics and Computational Biology

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Student advice for choosing a rotation

What advice do you have for choosing a lab rotation?
  • Talk to senior grad students and ask for their advice
  • Choose a lab, which would help you become a successful scientist (if you want to be one) or help you get a position in industry (if you want one).
  • Don't be afraid to choose outside of your area of "expertise." It will be a learning experience no matter what, and it's a great time to have fun going outside your comfort zone.
  • Don't feel like you have to choose related labs. Sometimes choosing really distinct research topics can help you figure out what you are really excited by.
  • Start thinking about potential rotations early. Leave yourself enough time to talk to several different professors.
  • Don't be afraid to branch out into a research area you don't know much about -- rotations are one of the best times to try new things!
  • Meet with students currently in the lab, as well as students who have rotated through the lab but chosen not to join.
  • Choose someone who works on science you are interested in.
  • Beyond looking at faculty webpages/publications to find labs that might study topics that are interesting to you, go to events where you can hear faculty talk about their research (chalk talks, seminars, etc.) and also events where you can talk to faculty in a more casual setting. It's a good way to ensure you get along with your potential PI as well as ask about their research without a formal meeting.
  • Ask other students who they rotated with and what they liked/didn't like about their rotation.
  • Try to work out a specific project that you can work on and what you might work on for your thesis work if you join the lab. You shouldn't worry about working out details, but the professor should have directions they're looking to explore in their research and they should be looking for students to own those projects.
What resources did you use to help in choosing your rotations?
  • Discussion with senior faculty
  • Speak with senior grad students - they know generally what professors are working on, what the professors are like, and whether students in the lab are generally happy and successful.
  • talking to other students and listening to faculty talks at the beginning of the semester.
  • Faculty pages / lab websites
  • GCB website
Contact Maureen for a list of students who have rotated in the lab(s) you are considering.