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, and whether there is an opportunity to join the lab. Recognize that opportunities may be driven by the stage of the projects and the people in the lab.
  • 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.
  • Enter your lab rotation information in the Graduate Student Tracking System (GST)

Rotation guidelines

  • Consult your first year advisor for guidelines specific to your department or home program.
  • You must do at least two rotations. The rotations can be of any length, generally up to one quarter. You can pre-arrange to have a shorter rotation, or you can end early if you learn that the lab is not the place for you.
  • There is variability across departments and home programs regarding deadlines for choosing a lab. In general, students are encouraged to join a lab by the end of spring quarter of their first year. Summer rotations are possible, and should be arranged with guidance from your home program’s first year advisor.
  • Although your first or second rotation may be a good fit for you, there is value to undertaking additional rotations. Before joining a lab, speak with your student services officer, first year advisor, and potential new mentor(s) about the benefits of completing additional rotations. These benefits can include: gaining new technical skills, establishing relationships that may lead to future collaborations, and/or identifying potential secondary mentors and thesis committee members