Formal Learning Objectives of the Ph.D. Program

1. The students will demonstrate a mastery of biochemistry and cell biology because an understanding of these subjects is necessary to understand microbiology and immunology.

2. The students will demonstrate a mastery of virology, bacteriology, and pathogenesis of infectious diseases (all of which are components of microbiology) and of immunology.

3. The students will demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and theoretical understanding of methods and techniques required for research in Microbiology and Immunology.

4. The students will demonstrate acquisition of practical skills in methods and techniques required for research in microbiology and immunology: they will apply techniques learned in class, and additional techniques learned in the laboratory, during three six-week rotations in the laboratories of faculty in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Rotations are done in the first semester of the first year.

5. The students will develop oral communication skills necessary to effectively present scientific information, and critical thinking skills necessary to respond to questions. This includes an approximately annual presentation at a Journal Club suited to the student`s area of research. The department has Journal Clubs in Virology, Bacteriology, and Immunology, which are attended by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students. A Journal Club presentation is less formal than a seminar. The presenter chooses one or two published papers and describes the methods, results, conclusions, and significance, and these are discussed and debated by the audience, including the students. Journal Clubs meet weekly or biweekly throughout the year.

6. The students will develop oral communication skills necessary to effectively present scientific information, and critical thinking skills necessary to respond to questions. This will continue with an annual presentation by the student, from their second year onwards, of a formal seminar on their research plans and results. Seminars are attended by all faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the department.

7. The students will demonstrate the ability to obtain and communicate (orally and in writing) original data that contribute knowledge to the disciplines of microbiology or immunology, and to network with other scientists. This will be achieved by presentation of research results at a regional, national, or international scientific meeting of researchers in the fields of microbiology or immunology. The students will respond effectively to verbal questions from other investigators, and meet key investigators in their research area.

8. The students will apply a thorough understanding of theoretical and practical aspects of microbiology and immunology, together with critical thinking skills, to develop an original hypothesis to fill a gap in our understanding of microbiology or immunology. They will combine this with basic concepts of experimental design to write an NIH-style research proposal to test the hypothesis. The research problem will be unrelated to the student`s area of research, and only students who have completed all coursework and are judged to be making progress in their own research project will be eligible to write the proposal. The written part of the proposal is the Qualifying Exam. An oral defense of the proposal is the Preliminary Exam.

9. The students will demonstrate the ability to combine their knowledge of the literature of their own area of research, their critical thinking skills, their research results obtained thus far, and the experience gained from the Qualifying and Preliminary Exams, to write an NIH-style grant on their own area of research. This is referred to as the Research Proposal. Only students who have passed the Qualifying and Preliminary Exams, and continued to make progress in their laboratory research, are eligible to write their Research Proposal. It will contain hypotheses developed by the student, the experimental approaches to be used in addressing the hypotheses (with pitfalls and alternative approaches), and discussion of potential outcomes and data analysis. It will be defended in a rigorous oral exam conducted by the student`s advisory committee and an Outside Reviewer (from another institution) chosen for their expertise in the field.

10. Students will be familiar with ethical standards in reporting, reviewing, and conducting research. This will be accomplished by completion of a formal course on the Philosophy and Ethics of Science (IDSP 240) in the first year.

11. Students will learn and demonstrate appropriate professional conduct. They will observe the student honor code, which is discussed with them during orientation.

12. Applying the skills in methods and techniques learned in the first-year courses and lab rotations, and extending these as needed, the students will learn to conduct independent, original research on a project developed by the student.

13. After obtaining their Ph.D., former students should be in positions that use their technical knowledge and the thinking and writing skills acquired during their Ph.D. studies. This includes positions in academia, industry, and government (e.g. CDC).