Santiago Ramon Y Cajal in his book Advice for a Young Investigator wrote “I believe that excessive admiration for the work of great minds is one of the most unfortunate preoccupations of intellectual youth…” I believe that one of the functions of graduate school, and one that I think we achieve in this graduate program, is to discourage the development of this ‘unfortunate preoccupation’.
We are an inter-disciplinary program, with a productive and engaged faculty, committed to providing a permissive and supportive environment so that students can achieve their full potential as scientists, teachers, and leaders. We place a strong emphasis on appropriate mentoring; students in the early years have both a student and a faculty mentor, while more senior students are mentored by their research advisor often with additional input from the members of their thesis committee.
In the first year, students complete the majority of the course work required for graduation and also do four six-week long research rotations in the laboratories of faculty they are considering as potential mentors. Toward the end of the year, most students have found a research mentor and can begin to develop a thesis project once the hurdle of the written exam preliminary has been cleared. The oral preliminary exam, in which students present a thesis proposal to their thesis committee, is usually taken at the beginning of the third year. Most students graduate within about five years.
As someone who moved to Minnesota with a vague notion about its geographic location and not a great deal of enthusiasm about its potential attractions, I can assure you that life in the Twin Cities can be quite wonderful. The community is vibrant and progressive and one eventually learns to embrace the occasional cold day.