Laboratory Rotations and Choosing a Thesis Advisor

All incoming students who are not direct admits (see Direct Admit Students Page) are strongly encouraged to complete at least three laboratory rotations before choosing a laboratory for their thesis research. Students doing rotations have the highest priority for funding on the NIH training grant for the first year. A laboratory rotation typically lasts about eight weeks, which should be adequate to sample the research that is being done as well as the laboratory's style and environment. The first laboratory rotation should begin in the fall, soon after entering the Program, and the third rotation should be completed by the end of March. Because they have considerably more course requirements, N&PP students have the option of delaying their first rotation until the start of the spring semester of their first year and to finish three rotations by the end of the first year. Neuro/Law students have the option of beginning their rotations during their second year. At the completion of each rotation, both the faculty member sponsoring the rotation and the student will complete a short report about the rotation and submit these reports to the Program Office. These forms, “Rotation Evaluation-Student,” and “Rotation Evaluation Faculty”, are available in the appendix of this Handbook and on the Program website: (

Upon the completion of rotations, students will select a faculty mentor and laboratory to join. Faculty mentors must be approved faculty trainers in the program. This selection must be approved by the Student Funding Committee after the student and faculty member have completed and signed the “Student/Advisor Approval” form. In general, funding for the student after the first year will be provided by research grants awarded to the faculty mentor and it is important that there is mutual understanding of the available support for the student. The “Student/Advisor Approval” form is meant to facilitate this discussion. Students who decide to do fewer than 3 rotations must be approved by the program office. Please be sure to keep the program office updated of your rotation status