Life Sciences Fellowships Program

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Policies for Predoctoral Fellows


1. Timelines for progress

The Fellowship provides 48 months of support towards your graduate degree, contingent on satisfactory progress towards the Ph.D. degree in the chosen degree program. A brief annual report is due the second Monday in June. Forms are available from the Life Sciences Fellowships office (LSFO), but an equivalent departmental annual report form can be submitted as a substitute. A signed statement from the mentor evaluating progress must be included in each annual report. The Life Sciences Fellowships Committee will conduct short personal interviews during the summer to discuss the annual report. Fellowship support beyond 18 months requires submission of a completed “Program of Study” form to the Graduate School. Support beyond 36 months requires satisfactory completion of the Comprehensive Exam. The LSFO may be petitioned in writing for prior approval to extend these deadlines in extraordinary circumstances.


2. Research rotations for first-year students

In their first year, Life Sciences Fellows will obtain at least one formal research experience outside of the laboratory in which they intend to perform their dissertation research. The length of this research experience is flexible, but typically will be 10-12 weeks. The purpose of the experience is to assist students in choosing a mentor, to facilitate networking with other students and faculty, and/or to learn techniques potentially applicable to their doctoral research. An intensive summer course may qualify as a rotation with advance permission from the LSFO. Students who enter with a Ph.D. mentor already chosen still benefit from the opportunities to learn new research techniques in other laboratories or field locations (at MU or elsewhere) or from an intensive short course in a new subject area. Students must inform the LSFO when beginning and completing each rotation. Short reports/evaluations from the rotation supervisors become part of the student’s file.


3. Coursework and Seminar Requirement

Students must participate in the Life Sciences Seminar as described below. Excuses for course conflicts or special circumstances may be requested from the LSFO. Typically, for molecular (lab-based) Life Sciences Fellows, the Fall semester utilizes a works-in-progress seminar format. For all Life Sciences Fellows, the Spring semester utilizes a full-length, formal seminar format. One full-length seminar must be given in the Spring Seminar series during the student’s fourth or final year of the Fellowship. Students must participate in Ethical Conduct of Research (Bio Sci 8060 or equivalent) for one credit hour.


4. Research Presentation

Students must make a research presentation annually at Life Sciences Week. First-year students may assist with event organization in lieu of a research presentation.


5. First-year Travel Awards

Travel awards (up to $700) are available on a competitive basis for first-year Fellows to attend a national scientific meeting of their choice. Each Fellow will decide on a meeting in conjunction with their rotation or dissertation advisors. The meeting must be approved in advance by the LSFO; travel must be within the first 12 months of Fellowship support; and a brief report on the benefits of the meeting must be submitted upon return. A research presentation at this meeting is not required.


6. Leave Policy Statement

Fellowship recipients are not permitted to have other employment for the duration of their Fellowship. Fellows may request one leave of absence from their Fellowship to serve as a paid teaching assistant or to participate in other non-thesis related activities for a period of no more than two consecutive semesters. The Fellowship will then be extended beyond the previous end date by the number of semesters the student was on leave. Only one leave of absence will be granted to each student during their period of support. Approval for this action can be obtained upon written request by the mentor to the Life Sciences Fellowship Committee. Fee waiver eligibility is limited to five years for doctoral students. Therefore, should a leave of absence result in Fellowship support occurring beyond that five-year limit, the student, mentor, or host department will be responsible for paying associated fees. Serving as a teaching assistant or other activity on a volunteer-basis does not require approval of the Life Sciences Fellowship, but should be approved by the mentor.