Stanford Biosciences student looking at computer


The Extra 5% Can Make All the Difference





Incoming graduate students kick off an exciting new stage in their lives with this comprehensive, eight-week summer transition program. Designed to give early opportunities in their Stanford University School of Medicine Home Programs, participants attend a series of workshops, which help acclimate them to Stanford and the School of Medicine while developing academic, professional, and leadership skills.

Top skills covered: transitioning to grad school, reading primary literature, research skills, NSF application writing

Department/Program Fall Boot Camps

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Get your laboratory skills in shape, all while getting to know your new Stanford colleagues. Individually organized by most Biosciences Home Programs, these boot camps introduce first-year PhD students to a variety of advanced techniques and concepts. Students often participate in intensive seminars, hands-on laboratory exercises, and individual or group presentations.

Top skills covered: lab techniques, fundamental concepts, working collaboratively

BIOE 450 (Spring)

Advances in Biotechnology

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This quarter-long course invites speakers from academia and industry to discuss the latest research in bioenergy, medical diagnostics and beyond, while also discussing issues of ethics and entrepreneurship in the field.

Top skills covered: current research, ethics, entrepreneurship

"...the guest speakers range from venture capitalists to law professors, providing insight into how collaborations function between various disciplines and institutions."

BIOS 200 (Fall)

Foundations in Experimental Biology

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Our students begin their graduate careers with Foundations, an experience designed to transform students into knowledge creators. The course revolves around three broad themes—Evolution, Energy, and Information—and emphasizes the value of communicating, learning, and thinking across disciplines. During each three-week cycle, students work in small teams to develop an original research project and compose a brief written proposal explaining the research. Teams are coached by faculty to hone the following skills: 1) reading for breadth and depth; 2) developing compelling, creative arguments; 3) communicating with the spoken and written word; 4) working in teams. Peer assessment and workshops further develop these skills, which are integral to independent research. Substantial face-to-face discussion with faculty-opening multiple mentorship possibilities—and the bringing together of students from different backgrounds are strengths of the course.

Top skills covered: reading the literature, developing independent research, communication

CTL 219 (Summer)

Oral Communication for Graduate Students

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This course focuses on graduate-student speaking activities such as teaching (delivering lectures, guiding discussion, and facilitating small groups), professional presentations and conference papers, and preparing for oral exams and defenses. In-class projects, discussion, and individual evaluation assist students in developing effective techniques for improving oral communication skills.

Top skills covered: oral communication

"Managing Up"—How to Make the Most of the Student/Advisor Relationship

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You have them. Your advisor has them. Take those expectations and learn how to talk about them with your mentor to make the most of your relationship. Targeted specifically to early stage students, this workshop provides concrete examples to develop communication skills that will aid you in graduate school and beyond. Topics include choosing the right advisor, working with your advisor, setting and managing expectations for each other, and optimizing the relationship for a win-win outcome.

Top skills covered: relationship building, communication

Choosing Rotations and Your Thesis Lab

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Your choice of thesis lab is the most important choice you will make in graduate school. Given this, it is essential you think carefully about selecting your rotation labs. It is important for you to read the literature from the labs you are considering, get input about the faculty member's personality, understand the lab environment, talk to your peers, and learn other questions to ask. In this workshop, we give advice and suggestions on how to navigate this critical step.

Top skills covered: reading the literature, transitioning to graduate school, communication

Goal Setting and Time Management

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Graduate students face many pulls on their time, with short-term deadlines and ongoing responsibilities. This workshop presents both new students and veterans with tips on how to make the most of your schedule, adding balance to your life while helping you produce more efficiently than ever before. Start your year off with a positive attitude, goals, and productive work habits.

Top skills covered: time management, goal setting, productivity

The Stanford Biosciences Grant Writing Academy provides coaching, review and editing for multiple grant mechanisms to all postdoctoral scholars and graduate students in the biosciences. Our goals are to enhance the development of productive, independent research scientists, support postdocs and graduate students in creating successful proposals and provide coaching, editing, and review for multiple grant mechanisms.

Top skills covered: writing, grant proposals, fellowships

Quick Bytes

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These brief, information-rich sessions are held over lunch throughout the academic year. They are open to all currently enrolled Stanford graduate students. Each Quick Byte focuses on a key area of training relevant to students at any stage, whatever their future plans, such as communication, interpersonal development, or personal and career development. Sessions are led by faculty and staff from VPGE and other campus partners—with a priority on making them interactive, practical, and fun. They also will direct you to additional resources and deeper learning opportunities. Workshops during the 2012-13 academic year included "Top Tips to Manage Graduate School," "Telling Stories with Data Visualization," and "Winning Fellowships."

Top skills covered: communication, time management, successful habits

Kearns' half-day workshop details the skills and habits graduate students can implement to finish their degrees on time, increase productivity, and enjoy graduate life!

Top skills covered: successful habits, time management

ENVRES 200 (Fall/Spring)

Communication Matters

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Available on YouTube, Dr. McConnell reviews the foundations of preparing and presenting an effective scientific talk.

Top skills covered: presenting scientific talks

Management Matters

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Managing people can be the most stressful part of any job—but, if done well, can also be one of the most rewarding. This workshop sequence focuses on simple principles and guidelines that, once learned, can make the process of managing others enjoyable and effective. Previous workshops included "Working with Different Styles," "Making Expectations Clear," and "Giving and Getting Feedback."

Top skills covered: management, interpersonal relationships

"Management Matters gives a new perspective on interpersonal relationships, focusing on managing up, down, as well as sideways."

Science Posters: Best Practices

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This workshop guides early stage students in making science posters, focusing on how to determine what content to include and how to best organize it all. Students will also discuss what makes particular posters better than others.

Top skills covered: posters

Would you like to know the secret to high-output, low-stress scholarly writing? In academia, it is often assumed that writing comes naturally. However, an overwhelming body of research shows that there are very clear and practical strategies that can greatly increase your writing productivity. This workshop covers everything from principles of "quick starting" to clarifying your thinking and improving the quality of your work.

Top skills covered: writing, productivity

Vocal Yoga

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These drop-in, weekly coaching sessions offer training in breathing, relaxation, and articulation to improve your oral communication skills in a variety of settings. Vocal Yoga is offered on Wednesdays of each quarter during Weeks 2-10.

Top skills covered: oral communication, personal wellness

CTL promotes the development of teaching skills for graduate students through personalized one-on-one feedback. Multiple services are offered, including classroom observation, small group evaluations, and courses on teaching throughout the year.

"SUCH a tremendous resource on campus for those who want to improve their teaching. Their team is dedicated to help you succeed in the classroom, from designing syllabi to acquiring impeccable oral communication skills."

"All the staff at the CTL who I have had the privilege of interacting with have been thoroughly enthusiastic, professional, and a joy to work with."

The Office of Graduate Education aims to help train and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators within and beyond academia and industry. We recognize that our graduate students are the central drivers and conductors of some of the most transformative research in the world. Our office offers programs and services to support graduate students and sustain the level of excellence achieved by the Stanford Biosciences.

Today's intellectual and social problems require the minds and talents of students from many fields. Stanford's graduate students are able to roam freely, gathering and sharing ideas across disciplines. VPGE works to expand cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary educational opportunities for students, encouraging students to enroll in classes across the University and bringing students from diverse fields together.

The Hume Writing Center offers assistance to graduate students with oral and written communication throughout their academic career. Graduate students can seek help with preparing a fellowship application, take courses and workshops in public speaking, and receive personalized feedback on an upcoming presentation or job interview.

"Tremendous help for me as an English-as-a-second-language speaker."

"The Dissertation Boot Camp really kick started my thesis writing. I learned more about my writing style and made great headway on my thesis through this program."

BioSci Careers has developed two documents to aid in student/faculty mentor conversations about research and career progress: one for those early in their training and another for those in the middle or late stages. These additionally address the assessment of a student’s preferred mentoring style, communication of mentoring needs, and how to use these documents and other resources in the process.

Top skills covered: student-faculty mentorship, relationship building

BioSci Careers

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This center provides support for the exploration of career options, development of professional skill sets, and connections to opportunities for trainees in the medical and life sciences. It houses career and professional development resources via in-house and online libraries. Further, career counseling provides one-on-one insight into the career-development and job-search process. Finally, BioSci Careers partners with alumni, faculty, and experts in myriad fields around discussion groups and curricular efforts. Trainees are empowered to both define their individual passions and to set short- and long-term goals, including those that will impact other organizations, cultures, and communities regardless of external expectations of career choice.

Top skills covered: career exploration, professional development, self-assessment

"If you're continuing on in academia, going into management consulting, or biotech/pharma industry, they can help."

"The Career Center at Stanford Med School has excellent guidance counselors, industry connections, and interview preparation strategies."

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