Chemical Biology Doctoral Program Student Handbook

Click Here for a Printable Version of the Handbook

Summary of Contents
Doctoral Degree Program
Academic Schedule
Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
Research Rotations
Choosing a Research Advisor
Formation and Function of the Dissertation Committee
Advancing to Candidacy
Annual Dissertation Meeting
The Dissertation
Degree Deadlines
Chronology of the Ph.D. Degree
Financial Information
Staying Informed
Supporting Facilities
Safety & Emergency Precautions & Procedures


Doctoral Degree Program
This section provides information on the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Biology. The requirements stated here include those set by the Program and those set by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Students are also encouraged to consult the Rackham Graduate Student Handbook.

Program requirements for the Ph.D. degree are administered by the Operating Committee, which consists of the Program Director, Associate Director and several Program faculty.  The Program Director, in consultation with this Committee, has the authority to set and interpret rules and requirements and, when circumstances warrant, grant exceptions upon formal appeal.  Upon entry, each student will discuss the following topics with a member of the Operating Committee: his/her background, objectives and any questions related to progress to the Ph.D. degree.  The Operating Committee provides advice to the student until a Research Advisor has been formally selected, at which time the Research Advisor will undertake these advisory duties.  However, throughout the tenure of the Program, students are encouraged and welcomed to consult with the Program Director, Operating Committee and Dissertation Committee for additional advice and guidance.  If questions, concerns or conflict arise at any point in the Program prior to selection of a Research Advisor, students should contact the Program Director or their designate. After selection of a mentor, students should work closely with their Research Advisor to resolve any questions or concerns. If an issue cannot be addressed at this level, students and faculty should contact the Program Director or his designate.

Course elections for each term must be approved either by the Operating Committee or the Research Advisor. Each student's status is reviewed by the Operating Committee after each term and an appropriate report is provided to the student when needed. NOTE: Failure to follow the approved registration can jeopardize a student's standing in the Ph.D. program, which could result in suspension of stipend and benefits. Students should not make unapproved changes to their schedules.


Academic Schedule
The academic year at the University of Michigan consists of three full terms: Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer.  The Fall term begins in September and ends in December; the Winter term runs from January through April.  Each Fall and Winter semester has a mid-term break in which classes do not meet and a final exam period at the end of the term.  The Spring/Summer term spans May through August.  Two short terms, Spring and Summer, run concurrently with the Spring/Summer term.  Spring classes meet May through June and Summer term courses meet July through August.  Most didactic courses of interest to graduate students are offered only in the Fall and Winter terms. Though students are typically not registered in the Spring/Summer term unless they are completing their dissertation, students are expected to be conducting research and completing the plan of study outlined by their Research Advisor.

Class periods begin ten minutes after the hour (or half-hour), although classes are listed as beginning on the hour or half-hour.  Note: The words “semester” and “term” possess identical meanings at UM and are used interchangeably.


Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
The degree Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree conferred by the University of Michigan.  It is a research degree.  It is never conferred solely as a result of study, no matter how faithful, extending over any prescribed time period or for any amount of course work or research accumulated.  The degree represents more than merely the sum of semesters in residence and of credits for courses taken.  The length of residence and the plan of study are of secondary importance.  The degree is granted solely upon evidence of general proficiency and of distinctive attainment in the special field chosen by the candidate.  The degree is granted particularly upon a recognized ability for independent and insightful investigation as demonstrated in a thesis based upon original research combined with creative scholarship and presented with a high degree of literary skill.


Program Requirements
Program requirements are directed primarily towards giving students practice and skills in research, discovery, problem solving and creative learning, particularly in their area of interest.  The requirements governing examinations and basic courses are designed to test and solidify the fundamental background of the student in the main branches of chemical biology while still encouraging an early start in research.

A student is expected to remain in good standing during his/her term of study by complying with the rules, regulations, and requirements set forth by the Rackham Graduate School, the Chemical Biology Program and completing the duties of his/her Graduate Student Research Assistantship (GSRA) appointment or Graduate Student Instructorship (GSI) appointment if appropriate.


Graduate School Requirements
The basic requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy set by the Graduate School and the Program include:

  1. Minimum residence and fee requirements.
  2. A 3.0 (B) average for all courses in the graduate student's record.
  3. At least 18 credit hours of graded graduate coursework registered as a Rackham student while in residence on the Ann Arbor campus.
  4. Appointment of a Dissertation Committee to supervise the student's program and progress in research.
  5. Recommendation by the Program for admission to candidacy (Candidacy Exam).
  6. Approval of the written dissertation by the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Dean and a final oral examination by the Committee (Dissertation Defense).


Credits and Rackham Requirements
Students enrolled in the full-time Chemical Biology course of study must be registered for each F all and W inter term until final completion of all degree requirements unless they have received an authorized leave of absence or approved extramural study. Additional information on leave of absence and extramural study may be obtained from the Program Office or from Rackham.

A student is considered full-time with registration of eight credit hours per term. Pre-candidate students may register for one to eight credit hours of ChemBio 990 (pre-candidate research) per term as approved by the advisor in additional to any electives.

The current Rackham requirement for candidacy provides for a minimum of 18 credit hours of graded (including the grade of S – Satisfactory) graduate coursework registered as a Rackham student while in residence on the Ann Arbor campus. All required Chemical Biology graduate courses as well as electives may be used to fulfill this requirement. ChemBio 990 (pre-candidate research) as well as courses taken as visit (audit) do not meet this requirement.

After admission to candidacy students register for eight units of ChemBio 995 (dissertation research) for every term including the defense term. After passing candidacy, a candidate may register for one “free” course in addition to ChemBio 995 without an additional fee with the approval of the research advisor.


Course Requirements
Program requirements for course work fall into two categories: (a) those specified by the Program and applying generally to all students, and (b) those specified by the student's academic advisor.

The Operating Committee and the student's Dissertation Committee both are charged with the responsibility to see that the individual student has a program of course work that is both broadly supportive of his/her specialized field of study and also indicative of the breadth and range of interest.

One of the requirements of the Program is for a student to be "in good standing," which requires the student to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. This average must be achieved by the end of the second term. Research and seminar courses are not included in calculation of the GPA.

An "I" (incomplete) grade may be assigned to a student only if the unfinished part of the student's work is small, the work is unfinished for reasons acceptable to the instructor, and the student's standing in the course is a "B" grade or higher. Incomplete grades can be changed to letter grades only if the incomplete work is made up by the end of the fourth full term beyond the term for which the "I" was assigned. The grade of "I" is permanently retained on the student's record next to the actual grade. For example, if a student submits the completed work after receiving an "I" and has earned a B+ for the course, the grade will appear on the transcript as "IB+." "I" grades are not accepted for thesis research courses (ChemBio 990 and 995).

The Program is concerned that the student has an adequate undergraduate background in chemistry, biology and mathematics and that the Program’s core courses adequately prepare students to branch into more specialized fields in chemical biology and to begin independent research.  During Year One, students are required to complete four core courses in Chemical Biology: ChemBio 501, 601, 502 and 602.  Also in Year One, students are required to complete PIBS 503 (research responsibility and ethics) and two terms of ChemBio 599 (Chemical Biology Research Rotation).  In Year Two, students are required to present their research, usually at the annual Chemical Biology Retreat at the beginning of the Fall Term. In addition to the core courses, four other graduate level courses (minimum of 2 credits) are required.  One elective course in Year Two must be biologically oriented.  Students entering with relevant previous graduate credit from other universities may be excused from some of the preceding course requirements by petitioning the Program Director and Operating Committee.


Research Rotations
In order to help students choose a Rotation Advisor and research group, all new students are required to register for laboratory rotations in the Fall and Winter terms of Year One (ChemBio 599).  Research rotations acquaint students with the research efforts of the faculty whose research matches their interest.  First year students are also required to attend the Poster Session at the Fall Retreat that is usually held the week before Fall classes.   This session provides students with the opportunity to meet faculty and their research groups, ask questions, and select a lab in which to rotate for the Fall term.  The Program Office provides the incoming students with rotation project descriptions and faculty contact information for the students to prepare before the Fall Retreat. 

In many cases, students will elect a Research Advisor from one of the labs in which they have rotated; however, there is no compulsion for the students to join the research groups in which they rotate.  Fall laboratory rotation projects must be selected within the second week of classes; Winter lab rotation projects are selected in the first week of December. Faculty are not permitted to make rotation commitments to students prior to the Fall Retreat. For the Winter term, that date is the 4th week of November.

In general, 20 hours per week of time spent conducting research in the lab is considered the minimum requirement, although each lab will differ.  Additionally, students are encouraged to spend as much of their study time in the laboratory as possible, as this provides students with the greatest exposure to the laboratory culture. 

Once a research rotation is complete, students are required to prepare a one-page report that consists of the following sections: introduction, results, discussion, conclusion and references (references are not to be included in the one-page requirement). This report must be prepared independently by the student and submitted to the Program Office by the last day of classes.


Choosing a Research Advisor
Choosing a Research Advisor generally occurs after the second term of enrollment. The formal steps preceding the choice include:

1. Completion of the research rotation course (ChemBio 599) in two separate labs in the Fall and Winter terms.
2. Discussion of the student's research focus and interests with the academic advisor at the time of the first term counseling.
3. Attendance at the Fall Retreat Poster Session (required).
4. Discussion of any questions or concerns with the Operating Committee advisor, the Program Director or the Associate Director.

The student and the Research Advisor are jointly responsible for following the Program and Graduate School requirements for the Ph.D. degree.  The Advisor’s responsibilities begin at the time of his/her agreement to accept the student into his/her group.  In addition to supervising the research, the Research Advisor is expected to advise the student on course elections, examinations, independent study pertinent to his/her general development as a scientist and any other matters affecting his/her general progress toward a degree. Faculty are not permitted to make Research Advisor commitments to students prior to the second Monday in April each year.

Students are expected to find a Research Advisor by the beginning of the Spring term (May 1) of their first year. Under special circumstances the student may choose to rotate during the spring term with the expectation that they will find a Research Advisor by the beginning of the Summer term (July 1).


Formation and Function of the Dissertation Committee
A Dissertation Committee should be assembled by each graduate student in consultation with his/her Research Advisor before beginning Year Two in the Program.  The composition of the Committee should be reported to the Program Office no later than the last week in August of Year One so that it may be recorded with the Graduate School.  The Research Advisor serves as chair of the Committee and shares the responsibility of guiding the student toward the doctoral degree with the other members.  All Dissertation Committees must consist of at least four members of the graduate faculty (including the Research Advisor). 

The Program requires that a student meet with their Dissertation Committee before being admitted to candidacy.  The Dissertation Committee may consult with the student about concerns of his/her development as indicated by his/her course work, seminar participation and performance during examinations and in conducting research. 

After being admitted to candidacy, the Dissertation Committee will meet at least once per year in order to assess the progress being made towards completion of the thesis.  It is the responsibility of the student to arrange this meeting.  Meeting dates should be forwarded to the Program Office so they may be recorded in the student’s permanent file.


Advancing to Candidacy
Admission to candidacy marks the transition from a largely classroom-based experience to one that is focused on independent research. This milestone should occur as soon as possible and must be completed by the Fall term in Year Three in order to remain in good academic standing. Early candidacy is advantageous to be eligible for reduced tuition (in general, candidate tuition is roughly 1/3 of the cost of pre-candidate tuition) and to be eligible for certain grants and fellowships administered by the Graduate School and external organizations. Before admission to candidacy may be recommended, a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Passing of course requirements as specified by the Program and by the Research Advisor.
  • Achievement of a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Choice of a Research Advisor.
  • Appointment of a Dissertation Committee.
  • Earning at least 18 credit hours.
  • Presentation of a seminar on a topic approved by the Research Advisor.
  • Passing the oral examination.
  • Be formally recommended for candidacy by the Dissertation Committee.


Early Candidacy
Students interested in advancing to candidacy before the winter term of their second year will need to discuss the option with their advisor as soon as they join their advisor’s research group. After obtaining the support of their advisor the student should notify the program of their intent for early candidacy before July 1st of their first year. The program will ensure that all Rackham requirements are met before the oral examination and the formal recommendation for candidacy.


The Candidacy Examination
Each Chemical Biology student is subject to an oral candidacy examination by his/her Dissertation Committee. This examination is held in Year Two and is to be completed by the end of the Winter term (end of May). It is designed to evaluate a student's preparedness for dissertation studies by examining the student's knowledge in the fundamental scientific disciplines underlying the proposed Ph.D. research. Although many aspects of the exam may focus on the research proposal, this is not intended to be a dissertation committee meeting.

The Dissertation Committee will elect a Chair (other than the Research Advisor) before the examination meeting and that Chair will be responsible for the conduct of the exam and to consult with the student’s Research Advisor prior to the exam if needed.  The Research Advisor is not a member of the examining committee and does not attend the oral examination. 

In preparation for the exam, the student must submit a written proposal to each member of his/her Dissertation Committee.  The proposal must be sufficiently detailed so that the nature of the research problem and the direction of the effort are defined and characterized; however, the proposal is not to exceed ten double-spaced typed pages (not including references) and must be written in an NIH-derived format.  The proposal should contain: 

a) Background
b) Specific Project Goals
c) Research Plan
d) Preliminary Data, if any
e) Literature References

Proposals not written in this format will not be accepted. The proposal must be distributed to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the exam.

At the Candidacy Exam, the student presents a brief summary of their research proposal (less than 15 slides); this may include preliminary measurements but should not be a seminar-style presentation. Students will be examined on knowledge of the background subject areas and on their research plans. Students are expected to have a good understanding of the goals, directions, importance and pathways of the proposed research. Students should be prepared to propose alternatives and discuss background material concerned with that proposal. Students should also demonstrate that they are making reasonable progress towards their doctoral research. Given interruptions for questions and answers, it is expected that the exam will take no longer than two hours. Immediately following the meeting, the committee will determine whether or not the student is admitted to candidacy. In the event that the committee deems a student's performance unsatisfactory, the student may be granted a second attempt at the exam. Please note that Chembio 990 will automatically be changed to Chembio 995 once a student achieves candidacy.


Annual Dissertation Meeting
Students in their third and fourth years of study are required to have a meeting with their dissertation committee before the end of the Spring term. This is a chance for the committee to review and discuss data and to monitor progress toward the degree.  A student must submit an Annual Dissertation Meeting form to the Program Office signed by all the committee members before the start of the Summer term. This record of academic progress becomes a part of the student’s academic record.

Students in their fourth year of study are required to submit to their dissertation committee a draft timeline that outlines the final experiments, analysis, and writing schedule. This timeline is also submitted to the Program Office.

Students who are in their fifth year of study should be scheduling and holding meetings with their dissertation committee in preparation for their dissertation defense. For those students in their fifth year a meeting with the dissertation committee must occur before April 1st.


The Dissertation
The regulations governing the preparation of the dissertation are given in the Rackham Dissertation Handbook, which is distributed by the Graduate School .

A student is required to submit the draft form of the thesis (i.e., before the final printing and final reproduction of figures) to the members of the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the defense for their suggestions. 


Dissertation Defense
The subject matter of the dissertation is to be presented at a public Program seminar (Thesis Colloquium) in the last term of the student's residence. This is followed by a private session with the Dissertation Committee. The student is responsible for arranging his/her dissertation defense in consultation with his/her Dissertation Committee.

A candidate must register online through the Rackham website to schedule a group pre-defense meeting with a representative of the Rackham Office of Academic Records and Dissertations (OARD). The pre-defense meeting must take place at least 10 working days before the oral defense. Candidates are encouraged to bring a copy of the dissertation to the meeting for a format review or may choose to submit it by mail no later than 3 weeks before the scheduled oral defense. Details on the mail-in option can be found in Rackham’s Dissertation Handbook. OARD staff and the candidate review the steps needed to complete the degree, and the candidate receives dissertation evaluation forms to distribute to the committee members.

  • Oral defenses must be public. Candidates provide OARD with the date, time, and location of the defense, and OARD will publicize the information.
  • As soon as possible but no later than 10 working days before the oral defense, a candidate should distribute copies of the dissertation, abstract, and dissertation evaluation forms to all committee members. A committee member who does not receive a copy of the dissertation and an evaluation form at least 10 working days before the defense may ask for a postponement.
  • Rackham OARD authorizes the oral defense. At least 3 working days before the oral defense, Rackham OARD must receive and review dissertation evaluation forms from the committee members.
  • Prior to the defense, the candidate must pick up a sealed oral defense packet from Rackham OARD and deliver it, unopened, to the dissertation chair or co-chair at the oral defense.

The Final Oral Examination Report should be submitted to Rackham within 48 hours of the exam, but no later than the deadline for the final term of enrollment. The student should confirm with the chair of the Dissertation Committee that the report has been submitted. Any disagreement over the acceptability of a dissertation will be resolved by the Dean of the Graduate School, who will act as final arbiter in consultation with the Dissertation Committee members. The Certificate of Dissertation Committee Approval must be submitted no later than the deadline for the final term of enrollment.

As well as completing the pre-defense meeting the candidate must also register with Rackham OARD for a post-defense meeting. The final paperwork that must be submitted to Rackham OARD includes:

  • a complete, final, correctly formatted, unbound copy of the dissertation to be microfilmed by ProQuest/UMI
  • completed ProQuest/UMI agreement form
  • two copies of the correctly formatted abstract
  • one extra copy of the title page
  • copies of any written permission secured for use of copyrighted material in the dissertation
  • if print copy submitted for the University Library, a dissertation binding receipt
  • application for graduation via Wolverine Access
  • online exit survey of Rackham Doctoral Recipients (optional)
  • NORC survey (Survey of Earned Doctorates)

The candidate must submit these materials to the Rackham Graduate School, either in person or by mail, by the published OARD deadline for the final term of enrollment. A candidate who fails to submit these materials by the deadline will be required to register for another term and incur tuition charges.

Candidates must submit final formatting revisions to Rackham OARD within a year of the date of the defense. A candidate who fails to submit revisions by this deadline will be required to defend the dissertation again.

Additional information is available in the Rackham Dissertation Handbook.


Degree Deadlines
Degrees are awarded three times a year, at the end of the fall, winter, and summer terms. The final dissertation deadline for degrees to be awarded at a given commencement is a firm date, and extensions are not permitted. Rackham OARD publishes the deadline dates for the intended final term of enrollment. These dates are available at By 5:00 PM EST on the published date, the candidate must have completed and submitted all degree requirements, including all format revisions, to Rackham OARD. A candidate who does not meet the final deadline cannot be listed among the degree recipients for that particular term, nor participate in commencement.

Each year OARD publishes deadlines for conferral of degrees in the same term in which a candidate meets all requirements. Students meeting this deadline may participate in commencement exercises, which are held fall and winter terms only. Students completing in spring/summer may participate in a future commencement.

A student may have their degree conferred in the following term without registering in that term. OARD establishes two deadlines for this conferral of degree in the following term.

  • The last day to defend is the last day of the term. Students whose oral defense is held beyond this date will be required to enroll for an additional term unless they have been granted an extension. To be granted an extension, a candidate must submit before the oral defense a note or e-mail from the chair of the dissertation committee that requests an extension and states that all revisions, corrections and other doctoral degree requirements will be completed by the deadline.
  • Rackham OARD annually publishes the last day to complete and submit all degree requirements without a new registration. If all requirements are not met by the published deadline, a new registration will be required. Candidates must submit final revisions to Rackham OARD within a year of the date of the defense.

Please keep in mind that these deadlines are absolute and you will be required to register in the following term if you do not meet them. The deadlines are published on the Rackham website under Doctoral Degree(see section 5.4.10).


Chronology of the Ph.D. Degree
This section displays the typical academic progression through the Program. Students without prior graduate experience will follow this format. Students are expected to complete the Program within 5 years .

Year One: Fall Term (September - December)

  • ChemBio 501 (macromolecular structure and function; 3 credits)
  • ChemBio 601 (critical analysis of the current literature, 1 credit)
  • ChemBio 599 (research rotation; 2 credits)
  • PIBS 503 (research responsibilities and ethics, 1 credit)
  • Elective course in chemistry, biological chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biophysics or other course in consultation with the Program advisor (3 credits)

Year One: Winter Term (January - April)

  • ChemBio 502 (protein translation, signal transduction and combinatorial methods, 3 credits)
  • ChemBio 602 (critical analysis of the current literature, 1 credit)
  • ChemBio 599 (research rotation; 2 credits)
  • Elective course in chemistry, biological chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biophysics or other course in consultation with the Program advisor (3 credits)

Year One: Spring Term (May - June)

  • Select thesis advisor
  • Select thesis committee
  • Begin thesis research

Year One: Summer Term (July - August)

  • Thesis research

Year Two: Fall Term (September - December)

  • ChemBio 990 (thesis research; 6 credits)
  • Elective biological course (e.g., cell biology, genetics, immunology; 3 credits)

Year Two: Winter Term (January - April)

  • ChemBio 990 (thesis research; 5 credits)
  • Elective course in chemistry, biological chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genetics, or other course in consultation with the program advisor (biological course required if not completed in Fall term of Year Two; 3 credits)
  • Doctoral candidacy examination

Years Three - Five

  • ChemBio 995 (thesis research; 8 credits)
  • Students meet once annually with their dissertation committee to review and discuss data and to monitor progress toward the degree
  • Teaching assistantships are possible for who wish to gain teaching experience


Master's Degree
A Ph.D. student who fulfills the M.S. requirements may petition the Program Committee and Director to apply for the degree. The requirements for a Master's degree are:

1. Completion of all Year One and Year Two requirements.
2. Three complete terms of independent research experience (ChemBio 990 and 995).
3. "B" (3.0) cumulative grade point average.

A formal degree application must be filed with the Graduate School when the degree requirements have been met in order for the degree to be awarded. NOTE: Students entering with a Master's degree from another institution cannot apply courses used to obtain the first M.S. toward an M.S. from Michigan. Furthermore, previous M.S. degree requirements must be substantially different from the Michigan M.S. degree requirements in order for a Michigan M.S. to be awarded.


Financial Information

Payment of resident or non-resident tuition fees is determined by residency regulations given in detail on the Registrar's Office website. Student tuition is generally paid by the Program; however, students are responsible for the registration and student fees that are associated with registration. Students who have advanced to candidacy pay a flat tuition fee without regard to their residency status.

Financial Support
The Chemical Biology Program is committed to providing all graduate students 12 months of financial support for the four to five years of their graduate program tenure. Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree to be eligible for support. This support frees the student to concentrate on research and full-time study. Students receive aid through a combination of fellowships, research assistantships (GSRA), and teaching (GSI), if desired, that provide tuition, excellent health care benefits and a stipend.

Students may also receive fellowship support in the form of a Research Fellowship awarded directly to the student by a national agency (e.g., NSF), a research foundation or the University, awarded on a competitive basis.

Research Assistantships (GSRAs).  These appointments are provided by a Research Director from grant funds under their supervision. Specific duties and schedules should be discussed with the Research Advisor.

NSF Fellowships. Applications for nationally awarded NSF Fellowships are submitted electronically using the NSF's Fast-Lane system. Information about these fellowships can be found on the NSF website. All applicants for NSF or other highly competitive national fellowships should notify the Program Director before preparing their application in order to obtain assistance in making the application as competitive as possible.

Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship. These fellowships are available only to students who have achieved candidacy. Recipients must have been formally admitted to candidacy before the Fellowship is to begin. Selection of nominees for the University-wide competition is made by the Chemical Biology Operating Committee . These fellowships are relatively unrestricted and are awarded on the basis of scholastic record and the student's research achievements. For more information on this fellowship, see Rackham's website. Each year, candidate students may request that their Research Advisor nominate them for this fellowship. Final nomination decisions are be made by the Operating Committee.

Shapiro/Malik Awards. These awards were established by Harold T. Shapiro, former President of the University of Michigan and Vivian Shapiro, former faculty member at the University of Michigan, to assist with interest payments on the unsubsidized educational loans that students are obliged to pay while still in graduate school. Dr. John Malik, a devoted Rackham alumnus in Physics, established an endowment for the same purpose. Both awards are made through a single competition. Students who have unsubsidized educational loans in excess of $10,000 are given priority. For more information on this fellowship, see Rackham's website.

Travel Grant. The Rackham Graduate School provides up to $600 for travel to present a poster or a lecture at domestic professional conferences and meetings ($700 - $1,100 for international conferences).  Students may only receive one travel grant per fiscal year (July 1 - June 30).  Due to strict deadlines and the rapidity with which travel grant funds are depleted, students are encouraged to apply for this funding several months in advance. For more information on travel grants, please see Rackham's website.

Graduate Student Instructorships (GSIs). Students who are interested in teaching in a given semester may request teaching assignments in the various departments that have undergraduate courses; however, positions are not guaranteed for Chemical Biology students.  This appointment is made to qualified Chemical Biology graduate students who have an aptitude and interest in teaching.  The conditions of this appointment are governed by the agreement which exists between the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) and the University.  The standard half-time appointment calls for an average of eight contact hours per week and up to 20 hours per week for all teaching-related activities.  This time commitment includes, in addition to classroom contact hours, preparation, grading, attendance at staff meetings, office hours and other similar duties.  All Graduate Student Instructors who teach chemistry courses are required to attend a Chemistry Department GSI training program, which occurs once per year in August.  All international students who wish to teach chemistry courses are required to complete a 3-week acculturation training course given in August (or May for eligible students) in addition to attending the chemistry GSI training.  GSIs who teach courses in other departments must meet the specific training requirements of that department.  Students will receive the same stipend amount per term regardless of whether or not they decide to teach. Students are only allowed to hold a GSI position in their fifth year with the approval of the Operating Committee.


Effort Reporting
Once a term students who receive a stipend as Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRA) or Graduate Student Instructors (GSI) will receive notification to complete certification of their effort.  Where GSRA support is funded by external sponsors it is important to ensure the effort of the period of appointment has been certified.

The university maintains a system of certifying the percentage of effort to demonstrate to the university's sponsoring partners that the sponsor did in fact receive the level of effort committed through the award process.

Effort certification is completed in Wolverine Access. Students who are unable to complete the process on-line should contact the program for paper certification.


Supplementary Income
Appointment to a half-time assistantship or to an equivalent fellowship is intended to provide sufficient financial support to enable a student to devote full time to his/her graduate program. Consequently, a condition of the appointment is that no outside employment be undertaken other than tutoring. In conditions of unusual financial stress, such as may result from extra dependents or other special circumstances, the student must discuss projected additional employment with his/her Research Advisor and the Program Director.


Stipend Payment Schedules
Fellowship stipends and training grant fellows are paid on a monthly basis approximately two weeks into the month. Stipends for teaching and research appointments are paid in four equal installments per term.  Appointment p ayments are available on the last working day of each month during the appointment term.  Wolverine Access ( is a useful resource for viewing and updating personal records such as local address, payment schedule and availability status.  Students are strongly recommended to select direct deposit as their method of receiving funds, as it is generally the safest and most convenient method.  Direct deposit forms may be obtained through the Wolverine Access website.


Loan funds administered through the Office of Financial Aid (2011 SAB) are available to meet the needs of any educational expense for students while enrolled in the University. The extent of this financial need must be clearly established by providing a complete statement of the applicant's financial resources and expenses for the academic year. Loans are NOT available for any non-educational expense which is normally financed by a commercial lending institution, nor are they available for the repayment of previously incurred indebtedness. For more information, please see the Office of Financial Aid website.


Income Tax Liability
The University, as a withholding agent, is not required to withhold on fellowships or scholarships unless the recipient is a nonresident alien. Graduate Student Instructor and Graduate Student Research Assistantship stipends are considered remuneration for services performed and, as such, are subject to withholding and income tax.  For more information, please see information provided through the payroll office's website.


Staying Informed

Student Handbook
This Handbook is to be used as a guide to the University, Graduate School and Program rules and regulations that govern the Chemical Biology Program. Students should familiarize themselves with requirements of the Program and the Graduate School. Throughout the Handbook, references are made to Graduate School rules and regulations; these may be found in their entirety in Rackham Graduate Student Handbook, which is located on Rackham's website.


Each student is provided with an e-mail account. Messages and information are sent frequently to the student group ( and to individual students. It is important that students read their UM e-mail on a daily basis.


For students who have not yet selected a permanent research advisor, all mail will be directed to the program office and placed in a pickup box located in Room 4222 of the Life Sciences Institute.  Once a student has been accepted into a permanent laboratory, mail will be forwarded to their laboratory’s mailing address.  In addition to receiving U.S. mail, students will also receive campus mail and messages from faculty, staff, technical staff or the Graduate School in these mailboxes.  Students should check their mailboxes as frequently as possible and should never receive personal mail to this mailbox.


Academic Advisors
For academic counseling, students may consult with any faculty member on the Operating Committee.  Operating Committee members also counsel first year students upon entering the Program.  Once the Research Advisor is chosen, questions regarding course work, academic concerns and career objectives and goals should be directed to the Research Advisor.  Students are required to meet with their advisor three times per term; however, the members of the Operating Committee are always available for consultation.


The Program Office is located in 4008 Life Sciences Institute.  This office can provide assistance in all matters of the Program, including health insurance, graduate student appointments, graduate records and admissions, recruitment visits, job opportunities, room reservations and seminar postings. 

Supporting Facilities
A large number of services are available across campus to support the research of Chemical Biology students.  These include chemical instruments, analytical services, computational facilities and libraries.

The Chemistry Department has a number of technical services, including shops for the fabrication and repair of electronic instruments, glassblowing, and computer support.  NMR, mass spectrometry, EPR, elemental analysis, small-molecule X-ray crystallography and other analytical instruments are available for either hands-on use (after training) or as a service.  Extensive descriptions can be found on the Chemistry Department website.

The Medical School maintains a number of core facilities that offer important analytical services. The Biomedical Research Core Facilities include separate facilities devoted to DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, transgenic animals, NMR and protein analyses (mass spectroscopy, sequencing, amino acid analysis, etc.). For details, see the Core Facilities website. The Comprehensive Cancer Center maintains an Affymetrix and cDNA Microarray Core Facility. The Department of Pharmacology has established a Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Facility.

The Life Sciences Institute (LSI) operates the Center for Structural Biology, which has facilities for the determination of the structures of macromolecules by X-ray diffraction. The LSI also operates the Center for Chemical Genomics, which has facilities for high-throughput screening of small molecule libraries, protein production, automated cloning and protein expression and high-throughput macromolecular crystallization. For more information on these, see the LSI's website.

A number of departments and research groups maintain their own computer resources. Beyond these, campus-wide computing facilities and resources are available.

The University library system has a very large collection of scientific journals (both print and on-line), books and databases to support research in Chemical biology.


Safety and Emergency Precautions and Procedures

It is critical that students follow proper laboratory safety procedures. The research interests of the faculty of the Chemical Biology program are very diverse, making it impossible to create a single set of guidelines that are applicable to all laboratory situations open to students. It is vitally important that students become trained in the safety procedures that are relevant to their lab. For a detailed description of safety procedures in the Chemistry building, consult the Department of Chemistry Student Handbook. For more information on general safety information, please see the OSEH website, the University of Michigan 's Occupational Safety & Environmental Health organization.


Emergency and Safety Regulations/Emergency Telephone Numbers
In case of an emergency in a campus building, occupants are to use a campus-only phone to dial 911 to provide a description and location of the emergency. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) may also be reached by dialing 3-1131.