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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). ┬áThis selection is subject to approval by the BCB Director, who will verify that certain criteria are met regarding the advisors’ core/resource status, and that it conforms to our policy regarding “All Bases Covered” BCB mentoring.

All Bases Covered (ABC) mentoring requirement

BCB aims to ensure that each of its students has ready access to mentoring in both the relevant quantitative and biological components of their research. It does this through an All Bases Covered (ABC) mentoring requirement whereby the mentor or mentoring team must cover both the relevant quantitative and biological areas of expertise. To facilitate this, as described in the faculty directory, BCB faculty are divided into two categories: core and resource. Briefly, core faculty are those who have sufficient expertise in both computational approaches and biological applications; they fulfill the ABC requirement and can therefore 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 that will fulfill the ABC requirement. Resource faculty and co-mentoring is described further below.

Resource faculty and co-mentoring

Examples of resource faculty are:

  1. Faculty who run a wet bench lab and whose expertise is in biology but whose labs have computational needs;
  2. 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);
  3. 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 advisors 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:

  1. a core faculty,
  2. a resource faculty, subject to approval by the Director,
  3. a non-BCB faculty, subject to special approval by the Director,

where (iii), a non-BCB faculty, is less typical.

How co-mentoring works and the co-mentoring commitment

In the case of such co-mentoring arrangements described above, 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.

Importantly, both advisors are committed to the development of the student. As such, any faculty member agreeing to be a co-mentor is taking on a commitment to — and responsibility for — the mentorship of that student. This responsibility should not deviate too far from 50:50 with the other co-advisor, regardless how the student is funded: for example, if advisor A funds 100% of the student, advisor A and B still share a 50:50 responsibility for the student’s development and progress.

Students should therefore choose co-mentors wisely, and faculty should agree to be co-mentors only after careful consideration: this should ideally involve lab rotations that include the proposed co-mentorship; but otherwise, should involve meetings between student and other co-advisor both separately and together.

What if my preferred faculty is not core, or even in BCB?

Faculty who are not a member of the BCB program can apply for membership here. Faculty who are currently categorized as resource faculty can apply for reclassification by submitting an updated version of their membership application that includes the additional details required to assess suitability for core status (as listed in the application materials).