Chen Lab

Current Students Prospective Graduate Students

First-Year Graduate Experience

  • Teaching Obligation

    With a few exceptions, all 1st year students are expected to assist in teaching in their first semester.  TA assignments vary according to departmental needs and individual experience.  Teaching assistant-ship assignments vary for the second semester (some students may be awarded RA fellowships, etc.)

  • Classes and Course information
  • Students are expected to complete 18 credit hours (a total of six courses) of 500-level (or higher) courses or during their first three semesters earning a grade of B or better in each course.  Graduate Core course (CHEM 896) is mandatory for the first two semesters for all graduate students.

    Graduate courses in chemistry and course descriptions

  • 1st-Year Rotation
  • All 1st year students are required to do a series of three 2-week rotations with different research groups during the first semester.  These are scheduled during the first couple of weeks of the semester according to priority and demand and faculty availability.  This is an opportunity for the student to participate in group meetings, discuss possible research projects with the faculty member, and to talk with group members about group dynamics, PI expectations, etc.  A fourth extended rotation is scheduled during the winter intersession (January 2–20) usually with the students first choice of research group.  This is an opportunity for full-time research for approximately a three week period where a student has a particular project to work on.  In most cases, this is the entry point for the student into a research group for the spring (2nd) semester.

  • Transitioning into a Research Group
  • In most cases, students are able to have their first choice of research group.  It’s useful, however, to be flexible and have a viable backup plan.  Students are encouraged to contact faculty research advisors in the spring/summer before arriving on campus to assess how many students the faculty member might be taking that year, and to keep in contact during the first semester. (In other words, don’t be completely invisible during the first semester, then show up in December expecting to be automatically accepted into a group!!)  Students are expected to formally join a research group at the beginning of the second semester, and will be expected to be working in the research lab during that second semester (in between classes and TA duties), and full time in the summer.

  • After the First Year …
  • In the second year, students are expected to complete coursework, and present an oral “Research Prospectus” exam at the end of the fourth semester. The purpose of the Prospectus exam is to inform the student’s thesis committee on research progress to date, and present an outline of future plans for a PhD thesis. Students are supported on a combination of RA/TA funding depending on the specific group.

    Before the end of the fifth semester, students are expected to successfully defend an Original Research Proposal (ORP) not closely related to the students’ thesis research.  This exercise is designed to test students’ creativity and knowledge of scientific literature to define a set of experiments/calculations in order to answer some new scientific question.

    Typically six months before a thesis defense is scheduled, students must present a Data Defense – an oral presentation attended by thesis committee members only, in which the body of work done by the candidate is evaluated and deemed sufficient (or not) by the committee. After a successful Data Defense, the student may schedule the final PhD defense, which is open to the public.