Laboratory rotations in three different laboratories with faculty members in the pharmacology program is highly encouraged and usually begin in the late fall, after the first year graduate students have heard the faculty talks from each of the faculty members in the program. These faculty talks begin in early September and finish by mid October. When these research talks by the faculty are finished, the first year students will be asked to list three faculty members in the Pharmacology Program with whom they would like to rotate. A fourth name should also be provided as an alternate. Three rotations in different laboratories are required of all students except those with a masters degree; these students are required to do two laboratory rotations. NOTE: If a student has worked in a laboratory of a faculty member in the program for an extended period (eg. as a lab technician or in a similar position), the student will not be allowed to do their thesis work in the same lab. This policy is designed to give students broader research experiences.
The laboratory rotations generally last approximately 7-10 weeks. A typical schedule for rotations within the first year graduate school would be, for example, mid November through early January, rotation number 1; February through the first week of April, rotation number 2; mid April through June, rotation number 3. The rotations have several goals/purposes – first, they allow the first year graduate students to learn about the scientific projects being carried out in a particular lab; second, they allow the graduate students to learn about the atmosphere in the laboratory and become acquainted with the faculty member who leads the laboratory; third, the laboratory rotations allow students to learn new techniques that they can apply to their future thesis projects; fourth, the laboratory rotations allow the faculty member to assess the student and determine the student’s interest in the laboratory’s research. In general, students are able to do their thesis research in the laboratory they select after completing the three rotations. It is expected that students will do a minimum of two, and generally all three rotations with Pharmacology faculty members since students have selected this program for their PhD training. All rotations must be approved before the student begins the rotation by the Director of the Pharmacology PhD Program. Once you have selected a Thesis Lab, you must email the program director and program coordinator to inform them. This information is then passed on in the Spring by the program coordinator to the Weill Cornell Grad School finance office in year 2.
However, as some laboratories are selected more often by students for thesis research, it is important to identify faculty with whom the student wants to do a rotation early in first year so that the faculty member can reserve a place in the laboratory for the student. Occasionally, a fourth laboratory rotation is necessary in order for a student to identify a thesis laboratory that fits with their scientific interests. At the beginning of the rotation, the student must register in the LEARN system. (Aileen Rosales can help if a student needs assistance with this.) At the completion of each laboratory rotation, the student and faculty member need to fill out a laboratory rotation form together in LEARN. This one is required by the graduate school and allows the faculty member and student to get together to discuss the positive and any negatives of the laboratory rotation. This is also required for credit for the rotation to be given. The students must also have each laboratory rotation approved by the director of the program BEFORE the laboratory rotation commences in order to get credit for the laboratory rotation. (updated 8/2022)