UW-Madison Department of Chemistry Expectations for Ph.D. Candidates
The graduate student bears primary responsibility for the successful completion of their degree program in a timely manner. The student will demonstrate thoughtful commitment to success in coursework and research and is expected to maintain a high level of professionalism, self-motivation, curiosity, and to conduct their work with ethical integrity. Absent profound extenuating circumstances, the student will join a research group in the first year, complete the required coursework before entering candidacy (typically, the end of the third year), complete the thesis background exam (TBE) before the end the second year, complete the research proposal (RP) before the end of the third year, complete the fourth/fifth-year meeting, and the PhD thesis and oral examination by the end of their sixth year.
The student will be matched with a research advisor in November of the first semester of study. The student will make selections of potential matches by carefully studying the research of departmental faculty (and/or faculty outside of the department) and by initiating meetings with faculty members of interest to discuss the possibility of becoming a member of their research group. The student will participate in three research group rotations during the first semester, with an option of a fourth rotation, <https://chem.wisc.edu/joining-procedure-phd/>. The student will determine the exact nature of the rotation through discussion with the research advisor during the first few days of the rotation. The student will fill out a form selecting their top three research groups (five, if necessary) they would like to join by early November. Student matches will be determined by the group-joining process (section 3.3.5 of the Student Handbook), and the students will be informed of their assignment by email.
The student will work closely with their research advisor to develop an appropriate research plan for their PhD dissertation. The student will provide the research advisor with regular updates on the results of research activities and experiments. The scheduling of the updates will be decided and agreed upon by the PI and student. As needed, the student will adapt the research plan in consultation with the research advisor.
The student will select a mentoring committee by the first semester of the second year. The student will work with the research advisor and mentoring committee members to fulfill the requirements for the PhD degree including completion of required coursework, filling out the minor agreement form, the second-year thesis background exam (TBE), the third year research proposal (RP), the fourth-year meeting, and the PhD thesis and oral examination. The student will be responsive to advice and constructive feedback from the members of their mentoring committee.
The student, unless they have outside research funding, will be supported by the advisor with a mixture of Teaching Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA) appointments. These appointments pay for tuition and a stipend but not for associated segregated fees or health insurance. The appointment of students to TA or RA is up to the advisor and will vary depending on the financial situation of the group, project deadlines, and established practice. Students should expect to TA at least two semesters in their PhD at UW-Madison.
The student will comply with all group, Department of Chemistry, and institutional policies regarding safe and ethical laboratory practices. This includes attending Chem 607 (Laboratory Safety) in January of the first year; yearly group, departmental, and institutional safety training; and compliance with the requirements of this training. The student commits to use mandated personal protective equipment at all times in the laboratory.
The student will actively participate in all laboratory meetings, seminars, etc. that are a part of their educational program. This will generally include group research meetings, departmental seminars, and other special events.
The student will be a good lab citizen. The student will participate in shared laboratory responsibilities and will use lab resources carefully and frugally. The student will be respectful of all laboratory, departmental, and institutional personnel and will work collegially with these personnel.
The student will be a good department citizen. The student is encouraged to participate in department committees and events that contribute to the mission of the department. The department not only appreciates and benefits from these student efforts, but also values these activities as a component of student progress—department service can be beneficial in terms of student professional development. However, the student should not feel compelled to take on more non-research effort than they feel is reasonable.
The student and advisor will discuss policies on work hours, sick leave, and vacation. An outline of the Graduate School’s benefits can be viewed at <grad.wisc.edu/documents/appendix-2/> and the department’s benefits in the Student Handbook, section 5.2. The student will comply with these policies and will notify the research advisor and fellow laboratory personnel well in advance of planned absences.
The student will participate in departmental or institutional Responsible Conduct of Research Training and Teaching Assistant training as directed by the research advisor or departmental and institutional leadership. The Graduate School’s policy on responsible conduct in research can be viewed at <grad.wisc.edu/documents/responsible-conduct-of-research/>. There are sections on professional conduct (section VII) and misconduct (section VIII) in the Student Handbook.
The student will accurately document all research activities and experiments. All tangible research data, including digital files, should be carefully maintained by the student in consultation with the research advisor. The student should be aware that these records and data are the property of the institution and should be archived in accordance with institutional policies in consultation with the research advisor. It is the student’s duty to provide data, in any form specified, when requested by the advisor.
The student and research advisor will discuss policies on authorship and attendance at professional meetings. The student will work with the research advisor to prepare research results for publication. The student is responsible to ensure that all published work to which they have contributed is accurate and in compliance with the ethical conduct of research.
The student will strive, in consultation with the research advisor, to conduct research that can be published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. Publication in reputable peer-reviewed journals is an important indication of the quality of scientific research. It is generally expected that work leading to the PhD degree will be disseminated by publication in peer-reviewed journals.
The student accepts primary responsibility for the development of their career following the completion of graduate studies. The student will seek guidance from the research advisor, members of the mentoring committee, other mentors, and peers regarding resources available for the development of future career paths. The students are encouraged to be aware of and participate in university courses that can help them build skills for their future career paths.