Stanford Biosciences student reviewing data on a computer

Setting Up Your Rotations

Key steps

  • Set up a meeting with potential advisors. Tell them about your interests in your introductory emails, and communicate that you have read lab papers.
  • You will get the most out of your meetings if you read about the lab's research beforehand. Have questions prepared. Be ready to discuss your interests and what you find appealing about the lab's research. Enter meetings with an agenda or plan, but be flexible as well.
  • Ask about what rotation projects you might work on. Recognize that these may be driven by the stage of projects and the people in the lab, and not reflect all available project areas.
  • Be sure to ask the faculty member before you rotate in her or his lab if you ultimately would be able to join the lab. You do not want to spend time rotating in a lab that you cannot join.
  • Determine when you will rotate in the lab—set the start date and decide how long the rotation will last.
  • Notify your Home Program that you will be rotating with the lab.

Rotation rules

  • You must do at least two rotations.
  • The rotations can be of any length, up to one quarter. You can pre-arrange to have a shorter rotation, or you can end early if you know that the lab is or is not the place for you.
  • As most of what you learn in graduate school will come from your research, you are encouraged to join a lab early. Students can choose a lab anytime after April 1 of their first year, and they are strongly encouraged to make their lab choice by the end of spring quarter (in June). Summer rotations should be arranged only in exceptional circumstances and in close collaboration with first-year advisors.
  • For information on Home Program-specific requirements, visit Curriculum and Requirements.

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