Research Advisory Committee
The Program Director initially advises new students on the selection of courses and other educational opportunities such as laboratory rotations. As the interests of the student become clarified and a thesis advisor is identified, the composition of the final committee becomes more formalized. Any difficulties in the advising process should always be brought to the attention of the Director of the Toxicology Program.
Selection of a research mentor is crucial to advancing through the academic and research requirements of the Toxicology Training Program. Careful attention to this is essential, and students are encouraged to explore all avenues for collecting information that will impact this decision. Such information may include research interests, publications, activity and funding of the research program, relationship of this work to toxicology, previous history of mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows, the number of people in the laboratory, and the level of training of these individuals. Given that this is an important commitment for the mentor, adequate discussions should take place to guarantee that both parties are in agreement about the relationship that is being established. Once a thesis advisor has been selected, the student needs to inform the Program Coordinator and Program Director (email is acceptable and it is generally good etiquette to copy the faculty mentor whose laboratory you are joining).
Only those faculty who are formally listed as members of the Toxicology Training Program can serve as primary thesis advisors for students in this program. The recruitment of new faculty mentors who are conducting exceptional research related to the discipline of toxicology and who will be strong mentors to our students remains a continuing objective of this program. Thus, a student's request to work with a faculty member who is not formally listed as a mentor in the Toxicology Training Program is viewed by the Director and the Steering Committee as a welcome opportunity to promote growth of our program. If a student desires to work with tenured or tenure track faculty member at the University but who is not already part of the program, then the Program Director and the Training Program Steering Committee must formally approve this. As part of the requirement for approval, the student must present, in writing, a request for such approval. This request should give the reason why the particular faculty was chosen over other faculty mentors in the Toxicology Program, a brief outline of the research topic that will be pursued with the faculty mentor, and a statement explaining the relationship of this research to the discipline of toxicology. The faculty member also needs to write a letter to the Program Director indicating his/her commitment to join the Toxicology Program, willingness to serve as thesis research advisor to the student, and commit to financial support for the student’s doctoral program of study. The intention of this process is to ensure that students in the Toxicology Program are working with exceptional faculty who are able to support and assist in the students' research endeavors, and to comply with the requirements of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Toxicology Training Grant that supports most of our students.
As soon as the student has selected an advisor and a thesis project, they must begin forming a thesis advisory committee. This committee will consist of the mentor and at least three other faculty members. At least two committee members must be members of the Toxicology Training Program, and at least one must be from outside of the Toxicology Training Program. After establishing a Thesis Advisory Committee, students must inform the Program Coordinator and Program Director of who is on the committee (email is acceptable, there is no form to fill out).
Once the thesis advisory committee has been formed, it must meet with the student at least once a year during the student’s tenure in the program, no later than June of each calendar year. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule this annual meeting. In the event that research directions are substantially altered such that the composition of the Advisory Committee should be changed, this should be arranged through the Program Director. If a committee member leaves the University, it is generally advised that the student should make plans for a replacement, following the same composition rules outlined above (with regard to Program member vs. non-member faculty).