Students are expected to rotate in three laboratories before selecting a dissertation laboratory. Students may initiate rotations as early as July 1 of the summer before they start graduate school. This provides an early start on full-time research before classes begin. Rotations should be at least 8-12 weeks long, with the shorter period acceptable during full-time research in the summer. Frequently, the first-year fall rotation gets short-changed because of the intensity of course work, and students extend this rotation through the semester break. Similarly, the Spring semester rotation can be extended into summer. If students are certain that they have found a suitable dissertation advisor in their first two rotations, a third rotation may not be mandatory, however students who have decided on an advisor may elect a third rotation to gain experience with different approaches. Students are expected to choose a laboratory for their dissertation research by August 1, at the beginning of their second year in the Program.
The faculty members of the Virology Program are selected for their ability to serve as mentors for graduate student rotations and dissertation research. Students are encouraged to pursue research in laboratories of the program faculty, but rotations and dissertation research are available in any laboratory in the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) program. The Student Advisory Committee and the Program Chair are available to discuss rotation plans. Rotations in labs of faculty outside the Virology Program must be approved in advance by the Program Chair and Program Advisor. A Rotation Registration form must be completed and returned to the Virology Program office before the start date of the rotation.
Students are encouraged to write a brief proposal within the first three weeks of their rotation and submit the proposal to their rotation mentor. The proposal can be developed with input from the mentor or the mentor’s other trainees. The proposal should be no more than two single-spaced pages in length and include brief statements of the relevant background, the rationale for the proposed experiments, the specific aim of the experiments proposed, the technology that will be used, the anticipated result, and how it will advance the field, including no more than 10 references. The mentor should review and critique the proposal. Students should present their experimental results at the mentor’s laboratory meeting at the end of the rotation. The mentor will provide the student with a brief written critique of the experimental accomplishments and presentation and will forward a copy to the Program Office.