Research Rotations

All incoming students are expected to complete three rotations during the first year before choosing a mentor for your thesis work. Exceptions require theme director approval. The three-rotation requirement can be satisfied with any three rotations, including a rotation scheduled during the summer before your first year.

You can find list of faculty affiliated with each theme on the UAB Medicine faculty profile directory. Approach faculty members through email to set up a time to meet face-to-face to discuss doing a rotation in their labs. Once you secure a rotation, please complete the Lab Rotation Verification Form

Rotation Lab Selection

Students should choose their rotation labs in consultation with their theme director. A faculty poster session will be held early in the semester to help you become familiar with faculty research interests, and this GBS spreadsheet will show you which faculty are interested in hosting lab rotation students. In addition, 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.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the faculty poster session took place at the GBS Symposium on August 4, 2017.

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 Advisor

The choice of a dissertation advisor/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 advisor 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. 

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.


If you have any further questions, please contact Nan Travis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..