Choosing an advisor and/or co-advisor
Selection of thesis advisor occurs near the end of the first year, typically at the end of the third lab rotation in early April (although requirements may be different for students who do rotations in the summer). This selection is subject to approval by the BCB Director, who will verify that certain criteria are met regarding the advisors’ core/resource status. Specifically, as described in the faculty directory, BCB faculty are divided into two categories: core and resource. Core faculty are those that have sufficient expertise in both the computational approaches and biological applications; they can act as the sole advisor for BCB students. Resource faculty are experts in a computational or biological domain but are not trained in both; they may advise students but only under a co-mentoring arrangement. Resource faculty and co-mentoring is described further below.
Resource faculty and co-mentoring arrangements
Examples of resource faculty are:
- Faculty who run a wet bench lab and whose expertise is in biology but whose labs have computational needs;
- Faculty who run a wet bench lab with some dry (computational) lab component, but where the expertise in the dry lab science comes from someone other than the faculty member (eg, from a postdoc or another senior scientist);
- Faculty who are primarily quantitative (eg, math, statistics, computer science) but without necessarily a strong focus in biological/biomedical research focus or background.
Students who choose resource faculty as mentors are required to have co-advisors with complementary expertise to ensure they receive appropriate training in both the computational/quantitative approaches and the biological application. In example (1) and (2) above, the co-advisor would provide suitable training in computation; in example (3), the co-advisor would provide expertise in the biological application. The co-advisor may be:
- a core faculty,
- a resource faculty, subject to approval by the Director,
- a non-BCB faculty, subject to special approval by the Director,
where (c), a non-BCB faculty, is more unusual.
In the case of such co-mentoring arrangements, it is expected that students should meet with both advisors regularly, including regular meetings where both advisors are present. For example, they could meet with advisor A once per week, advisor B once per week or biweekly, and advisor A and B together once per month.