Second Year

Transition to Thesis Research

The second-year is important as a time to develop key skills in the lab that will be needed to complete a thesis project.  Students often face unanticipated challenges, but convincing negative results can redirect the research to answering better questions.  As students settle into their thesis lab, they are expected to remain active in the CCB community and participate in activities and service.  Second year students often share a key role in admissions, organizing retreats, outreach and other leadership opportunities.

Formal Coursework

During Fall quarter of second year, students complete Hypothesis Design and Grant Writing Skills (CABI 31600).  To receive their grade, students must submit a fellowship or grant proposal to an external funding agency or a foundation during second year.  During Spring quarter of the second year, students take Translational Approaches in Cancer Biology (CABI 32000) serving as a capstone to the formal curriculum.  

Presenting at SRP and the Qualifying Examination

As soon as second year students join a lab and define a thesis project, they should request to be scheduled for a Student Research Presentation slot. Presenting the background and aims of the thesis provides an opportunity to formalize the project and to seek feedback from the CCB community.

The first meeting of the thesis committee should be scheduled for Autumn or Winter of the second year and serves as the qualifying examination. The qualifying exam must be passed before Summer quarter. The exam consists of submitting and presenting a thesis proposal to the thesis committee. The proposal is meant to demonstrate that the student and advisor are working together effectively and that the planned project has a strong scholarly foundation and will provide an opportunity for rigorous training toward the PhD. No preliminary data are expected or required, but experimental progress can be shown.   

Students who complete second year having passed the qualifier and shown satisfactory performance in at least five courses have completed the requirements for candidacy for the PhD.