Faculty Resources

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Faculty Trainer Responsibilities

The CMB Graduate Program represents a community of scholars who train highly qualified graduate students to conduct research within various disciplines under the umbrella of cellular and molecular biology. This collaborative effort enables the CMB Program to remain successful in its endeavors.

Faculty trainers are expected to be actively involved in the CMB Program. Faculty trainers should participate as a member on the various committees (Admissions, Advising and Orientation, Coordinating, Curriculum, Diversity, and/or Recruiting), serve as a member on Thesis Committees for students in the process of earning their PhDs, participate in the functions of the affiliated focus groups, and support program-sponsored activities such as seminars, retreats, and recruiting events. Faculty trainers are required to attend a faculty mentoring workshop at least once every five years.

Recruiting of Prospective Graduate Students:

  • Recruit new students during prospective recruiting weekends held in February of each year
  • Meet with visiting prospective students who have expressed an interest in the faculty trainer’s research area
  • Participate in recruitment events, Friday focus group luncheon, and/or Saturday faculty trainer dinner
  • Periodically update website, research description, contact information, and focus group affiliation to adequately keep the CMB Program website and promotional materials up to date

Advising & Orientation: Faculty Trainer Talks and Lab Rotations

  • If a faculty trainer will be accepting new students in their lab, it is expected that they present a faculty trainer talk to new incoming CMB students during Advising and Orientation Week
  • Giving a talk implies that the professor has funding and space to accept a student(s) after fall lab rotations are completed
  • After the talks, first-year rotating students will make appointments with at least six faculty trainers in order to identify appropriate lab rotations
  • Faculty trainers may not make commitments to students as a Thesis Advisor until the last week of the third lab rotation
  • Faculty who accept a CMB student into their lab will start the student on their payroll beginning December 1
  • If a student must switch labs, the Thesis Advisor is responsible for financially supporting the student for a one month rotation period in another lab

Annual Assessment

  • The Graduate School requires each program to submit an annual assessment report to support the goals of the university’s Institutional Plan for Assessing Student Learning. In order to do this, we ask that each CMB Thesis Advisor complete a Faculty Advisor Questionnaire each year for each of their CMB students and return it to the CMB Office.

Responsibilities of the Thesis Committee

  • CMB Faculty Trainers are encouraged to serve on the thesis committees of CMB students.
  • Advocate for the student’s success by being available to discuss issues of importance, including the thesis project, career planning, and equity.
  • Meet annually with the student to provide critical evaluation of the student’s scientific progress, in regard to the CMB learning goals.
  • Provide feedback to the student and Thesis Advisor regarding the feasibility of research goals and plans.
  • Cross-check training in responsible conduct of research and experimental design, as it relates to ethical considerations, rigor, and reproducibility.
  • Support the student’s professional development, using the student’s Individual Development Plan (IDP) as one point of discussion.
  • Step in should disagreements arise between the student and Thesis Advisor or if other issues arise that impede progress toward the PhD. Communicate serious issues with the CMB Program Chair.
  • In consultation with the student and Thesis Advisor, set objectives that need to be met for a student to defend their thesis. Objectives could include completing particular experiments and publishing the findings. The CMB Program does not require publications for a PhD, but for career advancement it is in the student’s best interests to publish their work prior to defending their thesis.
  • At the end of the meeting, the student should leave the room and the committee should discuss what the student needs to do over the coming year. When the student returns to the room, a member of the thesis committee other than the thesis advisor should summarize the discussion. It is good practice to do this at every meeting, even if the student is doing well.
  • The thesis mentor should then leave the room, allowing the thesis committee and the student to collaboratively explore avenues for the advisor’s mentorship development. The resultant advice should be communicated to the advisor post-meeting by a committee member.


  • The University holds faculty and students to a high standard of integrity.

New Trainer Application

  • If a UW-Madison faculty member would like to become a faculty trainer in the CMB Program, they must submit a CMB New Faculty Trainer Application. Please fill out the application completely and thoroughly.  Applications lacking detailed content will likely be returned with a request for additional information.
  • The CMB Faculty Trainer Application form consists of:
    • An NIH biosketch
    • Brief summary of current research interests
    • Brief summary of publications, both current and pending
    • Availability to serve on the CMB Program subcommittees
    • Availability to train graduate students
  • Ideally, the faculty member should apply to be a faculty trainer during the specified faculty trainer application period.  Please note that this takes place once per year:
    • For review at the first Fall Coordinating Committee meeting, please submit all application materials by August 1st.
    • In some cases, faculty trainer applications can be reviewed off cycle. Please contact cmb@bocklabs.wisc.edu for more information.
  • Submit all application materials to the CMB Office (cmb@bocklabs.wisc.edu)
  • The faculty trainer application will be reviewed by the Coordinating Committee and the faculty member will be informed of the committee’s decision
  • Any off-cycle faculty trainer applications will be reviewed by the CMB Chair as well as the Focus Group Chair for each focus group the faculty wishes to join

Trainer Review

  • The CMB Program reviews 1/5 of the current affiliated faculty trainers each year based on the first letter of their last name
  • All current faculty trainers will be reviewed once every five years, as an ongoing process
  • Recently admitted faculty trainers may be reviewed sooner than five years based on where their last name falls in the rotation
  • The faculty trainer review usually takes place in May or August/September at the Coordinating Committee meeting
  • The Coordinating Committee will review the completed form and consider the following:
    • How appropriate the current research area of the faculty trainer is in relation to the CMB Program
    • Research quality, as judged by a continuing record of productivity and extramural funding relating to cellular and molecular biology
    • Participation in various CMB Program functions
    • Track record of training graduate students and the training environment provided in the lab
  • Faculty trainers will be informed of the Coordinating Committee’s decision within one month of when the Coordinating Committee meeting takes place
  • Faculty trainers whose research focus, research quality, or CMB Program participation is determined to be unsuitable for the CMB Program will receive a letter from the Coordinating Committee stating they have been removed from the CMB Program as a faculty trainer
  • Faculty trainers may challenge their removal by submitting a timely appeal to the Coordinating Committee
  • A removed faculty trainer may also apply for reappointment at any time following removal
  • The reappointment process is similar to the original review process, however, the Coordinating Committee may request supplemental information if necessary
  • The Coordinating Committee will apply somewhat more rigorous standards for reappointment than for the initial appointment of a new faculty trainer
Lab work from Small World WID Event