Research Rotations

Students must complete at least three lab rotations in three different labs prior to joining a thesis lab*.

Students are expected to complete the Lab Rotation Verification Form within 10 days of the beginning of the rotation. Early summer admits are to complete prior to receiving their summer appointment letter. The decision to join a lab is by mutual agreement between the student and mentor, with approval by the mentor’s department chair.

No later than 10 days after the end of a lab rotation, the student and the mentor complete and submit the appropriate GBS mentor and student lab rotation evaluation forms to document the lab rotation experience from each perspective.

You can find list of faculty affiliated with each theme on the UAB Medicine Faculty Finder and Scholars@UAB. Students may contact faculty members directly to set up a time to meet face-to-face and discuss doing a rotation in their labs.

2018-2019 Rotation Dates

  • Early Admit Summer: June 1 - August 3, 2018 
  • Early Fall: August 13 - October 12, 2018 
  • Late Fall: October 15 - December 14, 2018 
  • Early Spring: January 7 - March 8, 2019 
  • Late Spring: March 11- May 10, 2019

Rotation Lab Selection

Students should choose their rotation labs in consultation with their theme director. A faculty poster session will be held at the GBS Symposium to help students to become familiar with faculty research interests. Students are strongly encouraged to contact faculty to request a one-on-one meeting to learn more about faculty research interests (and that person's interest in taking rotation students). While rotations will typically occur with faculty in the student's chosen theme, students are free to rotate with faculty in other themes and research areas.

The GBS office will provide resources to students of faculty seeking lab rotation students.

Check out this article by current student Gbenga Ojo for advice on choosing a rotation lab.

Rotation Waiver*

Opting out of a rotation is discouraged. However, advanced students can be exempted for no more than one rotation if they have extensive prior laborary experience that could be considered to be more extensive than a single GBS rotation. Prior experience that may be considered appropriate would include:

  • A master's degree in a related scientific field (such as chemistry or biology).
  • Extensive undergraduate research that has (or will) result in authorship on a publication.
  • Undergraduate research that resulted in graduation with honors for research (with a thesis defense).
  • At least two undergraduate summer research experiences offered by competitive summer undergraduate research programs.
  • At least one year of undergraduate research that averaged at least 10 hours/week.

Petitions should be made following consultations between you, your proposed mentor, and the relevant theme director. If all parties agree, a petition including all reasons why you should be allowed to waive the research rotation can be sent in an email to the Associate Dean, Dr. David Schneider (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Selection of Dissertation Mentor

The choice of a dissertation mentor is one of the most important decisions you will make as a graduate student. You should keep this in mind as you choose laboratory rotations and participate in lecture and seminar activities throughout your first year in the program. First year students should select a dissertation mentor by June 1. You should make this choice in consultation with your potential dissertation mentor in order to come to a mutually agreeable decision and arrangement.

In special cases, students unprepared to make this choice may be allowed to complete an additional laboratory rotation during the summer term. Clearly, a fourth laboratory rotation should be elected only after careful consideration, since doing so could delay your completion of the doctoral program. Please complete the Mentor Selection Form when an agreement with the dissertation advisor/mentor has been made. 

When selecting a mentor, GBS students will be expected to complete the Best Practices for the Mentor/Mentee Relationship. This document provides guiding principles to support the development of a positive relationship between the mentor and mentee. The purpose of these guidlines is to promote a mutual understanding of expectations to develop a communicative relationship between the mentor and mentee from the beginning of training. A successful training experiences requires committment from the mentor and from the mentee. 

Confirmation of Theme Affiliation

You enter the program with a given theme affiliation, but have the flexibility to rotate with any faculty with active GBS status. You may change theme affiliation if your research training interests change. Alternatively, faculty outside of your theme affiliation may elect to join your themes, if joining is consistent with theme interests; this would allow you to retain your original theme affiliation. If you switch themes, you may be required to take additional first year theme-specific courses; these can be completed during year two to fulfill advanced course requirements.

Communication between you, your selected mentor, and the original and new theme directors will be necessary to facilitate transfer among themes. All student should confirm their theme affiliation at the time of dissertation advisor selection.

Poster Presentation

All students completing their first year in GBS are expected to present a poster on one of their lab rotations at the GBS Symposium. The Symposium is an opportunity to showcase the research and achievements of GBS students and to give first-year students an opportunity to practice presentation and discussion of their research.


If you have further questions, please contact the GBS Process Manager.