Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor Responsibilities

Faculty/mentors are responsible for the quality of the graduate education for each of their students. The relationship begins even before a student sets foot on campus. A very important part of the graduate application process involves contacting potential faculty/major professors to work with. Students are accepted into the program only if they have been accepted by a faculty mentor.

Faculty/mentors work closely with their students to design quality/original research projects. Faculty mentors and students usually meet periodically (every several weeks) to discuss research progress and to work through project difficulties. The faculty mentor helps the student pick a thesis advisory committee that meets at least once per semester with the student and faculty mentor.

Written thesis: The capstone (and majority of the work) of the MS degree is a written thesis. The thesis is a professional documentation of the student's research project written in scientific format. There is no set length for a thesis, although most range from 50 to 200 pages in length. Students often write parts of their thesis for publication in refereed scientific journals.

Thesis defense: The thesis defense is a final gathering of the advisory committee and student. The thesis advisor, advisory committee, and student should plan for the defense to last 1 - 2 hours. It is open to other biology faculty, but NOT to the public. The major advisor is responsible for scheduling the defense time and location. The advisor should reserve a room and have the department secretary send an email inviting all biology faculty to the defense (approx 1 week prior to the defense date). The thesis committee should have had the near final copy of the thesis available to them 4 weeks before the defense. At the defense the student may be questioned about anything regarding the thesis. Questions may involve discussion of the validity of data interpretation, comparison with other similar studies, problems with the written thesis, or discussion of possible future studies. At the completion of questioning the student is asked to leave the room while the committee discusses how well the thesis was defended. If the committee agrees to the quality of the research and the defense of it, the committee will complete the process and collect the assessment data below. The major thesis advisor should bring the following forms to the thesis defense.:

The committee is responsible for completing the above forms and turning them in to the Graduate Coordinator at the completion of the defense.

Public seminar: The major advisor is responsible for scheduling a room and time for a public presentation of the student's thesis research, and have the department secretary send an email inviting all biology faculty and the graduate coordinator invite all graduate students to the presentation.