PhD Degree—First Year
All first-year students participate in three lab rotations of their choosing. Lab rotations give students exposure to diverse research environments and help them select a mentor with whom to do their dissertation research.
To help students select their rotation labs, the college offers the Graduate Student Research Opportunities course during the first three weeks. In this course, representatives from each of the six biomedical sciences programs describe the research interests of their faculty members. A faculty advisor also helps students select their rotation labs.
All first-year students also participate in a core curriculum designed to provide a broad-based education in the basic biomedical sciences and to develop a sense of community and collegiality. The first-year core curriculum courses are: Foundations of Molecular and Cellular Biology, covering fundamental and advanced topics in biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology; Introduction to Applied Biostatistics and Research Design, introducing the basic principles of biostatistic and experimental design for research in the biomedical sciences; and Journal Club, where students practice analyzing papers and giving oral presentations.
Beginning in January, students take elective courses.
By the end of the spring semester, students begin focusing on research. They have until the end of the first year to select a mentor and become affiliated with their mentor's degree granting program.
Cherry Mae Ignacio appreciated SUNY Upstate's first-year curriculum, which builds in a variety of research work. She experienced three different departments before deciding on her program and advisor.
"I liked the lab rotations," Ignacio said. "I am interested in a lot of things and got to see a broader view of scientific research."
Ignacio is now working with Dr. Barry Knox, studying how light-sensitive proteins in cells of the retina are activated in response to light.
As good as her first year was, Ignacio's second year started off even better—she spent a week at a structural biology conference in England, where she presented a poster of her research project.