Research is an integral component of graduate studies. Thesis students are not expected to have identified a research project and research advisor at the start of their graduate studies. The department therefore assigns an initial academic advisor to each graduate student. The department tries to match the interests of the student with those of the assigned faculty advisor, and hence it is common that the academic advisor becomes the research advisor and thesis committee chair. However, there is no obligation.
Choosing a Research Project
Research students are encouraged to consider their research project early and carefully. To help with this decision, there are several things new students can do:
Attend the weekly departmental seminars (see Seminars). They include presentations by Bioengineering and affiliated faculty, and they reflect the diverse bioengineering research activities and interests here. Feel free to meet with faculty members to discuss your research interests and find out more about their research activities. You should start this process during Fall quarter. Inquire about attending research group meetings. Most of the faculty extend an open invitation to new students to join in on these regular meetings.
Plan on enrolling for four units of Graduate Research (BENG 298L, Laboratory Research Rotation) for at least two quarters during your first academic year. You might even be able to enroll for two units in each of two laboratories. Laboratory rotations help doctoral students to familiarize themselves with the research area, environment, and personnel involved. They also provide the prospective research advisor(s) with an opportunity to evaluate the potential and suitability of the student for doctoral research in general and for participation in his or her laboratory. This important criterion is considered by the Ph.D. qualifying exam committee. Ph.D. students will be asked about their research objectives and rotations to date during the Ph.D. qualifying exam. Faculty advisors will be happy to discuss the student's research interests in detail to assist the student to identify the research lab and environment best suited to the student's interests, background and academic objectives. The lab rotation helps to ensure that these discussions take place during the first academic year prior to the qualifying exam. Ph.D. students are also required to complete a Teaching Requirement, so you may want to enroll for Graduate Research in a different quarter.