Graduate Student Guide

Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine


This short guide is intended to summarize the requirements for graduate study in the Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology (VIM) and to provide some helpful information. Official documents regarding academic policies and procedures, registration information, etc. are available in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences or online (


The goal of the Microbiology Program is to provide a rigorous training in the fields of Virology, Host-Microbe Interactions, and Immunology. We meet this goal by providing relevant courses, journal clubs and seminars, practice qualifying exams and presentations, dissertation advisory committee meetings, as well as mentored research projects. Besides these formal training opportunities, students should be aware that all of us in the Microbiology Program are committed to helping them to meet their goals, and students should feel free to ask for help from their mentors, dissertation advisory committee members, and other faculty, staff, researchers and students at any point in their training.

Students enter the Microbiology Program via the umbrella Ph.D. graduate program, Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS), which offers training by integrating the foundations of interdisciplinary biomedical research with focused investigation. Admissions criteria and online applications can be found on the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences website. PiBS students spend their first year taking prescribed coursework and electives that complement their research interests. They also complete at least three laboratory rotations. At the end of their first year, PiBS students select a research advisor and lab group to join based on their rotations. At this point they can enter the Microbiology Program. Students may also enter the Microbiology Program through the M.D. / Ph.D. Program, which also involves selection of a research advisor following research rotations. Having joined the Microbiology Program, students continue to take selected courses that will help inform their dissertation research. In addition, students participate in seminars and journal clubs, pass a qualifying examination, and successfully defend a dissertation based on original laboratory research.


The following is a rubric to help guide student training.

By the time students complete their Ph.D. training they should be able to:

  • Demonstrate academic mastery in virology, host-pathogen interactions and/or immunology.
  • Demonstrate competencies in oral and written communication.
  • Generate an original body of research in virology, host-pathogen interactions and/or immunology.
  • Attain the skills and qualifications needed for employment in an academic, government, or private sector position related to biomedical sciences.


Dr. Rachel Fearns is the Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Dr. Ratnakar Deole ( is the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for the Microbiology Program and Dr. Robert Davey ( is the Assistant DGS. Drs. Deole and Davey should be consulted for advice on and approval of courses, rotations, training options, dissertation advisors, research advisory committees, and just about all other academic matters in the Department. In addition, they will review each student’s performance and progress on a regular basis and reassess curricular and research options. Drs. Deole and Davey will be available to students throughout their training in the Department and will provide advice should problems arise in meeting the particular requirements that a student has selected.


For graded course work, a minimum grade of B- is considered a passing grade by the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. Division rules state that students who fail 8 or more credits will be terminated from the program. The Department of Microbiology requires that if a student gets a C+ or lower in any required course, s/he will be required to repeat the course(s); the original grade will be carried on the transcript. Credits in other failed courses must be made up with credits from the same or other courses.

Ph.D. student curriculum

For Ph.D. students in the Microbiology program, a total of 24 graded credits is currently required.

Required courses (typically taken in the 1st year of the PiBS program, prior to joining the Microbiology Program):
GMS FC 701 FiBS I: Protein Structure, Catalysis and Interactions, 3 cr
GMS FC 702 FiBS II: Structure and Function of the Genome, 3 cr
GMS FC 703 FiBS III: Architecture and Dynamics of the Cell, 3 cr
GMS FC 704 FiBS IV: Mechanisms of Cell Communication, 3 cr
GMS FC 764 Professional Skills, 2 cr
GMS FC 708 Professional Development Skills, 2 cr

In addition, students in the Microbiology program are required to take the following:

GMS FC 721 Statistical Reasoning for the Basic Biomedical Sciences, 4 cr (another statistics course can be substituted with Dr. Deole’s permission)

At least 4 credits from one or more of the following courses:

GMS MI 701 Concepts in Virology, 2 cr
GMS MI 823 Special Topics in Microbiology (Microbial Pathogenesis), 2 cr

GMS MI 713 Comprehensive Immunology, 4 cr


GMS MI 811 (Fall), 812 (Spring) Microbiology Seminar, 2 cr (this is ungraded and is to be taken each year in the program)
GMS MI 911, 912 Microbiology Research, var cr

Responsible Conduct in Research (

M.D.-Ph.D. student curriculum

M.D.-Ph.D. students are required to obtain 16 graded credits from relevant courses taken during their time in the Microbiology Program. They do not typically take the FiBS or Professional Skills/ Professional Development Skills courses. However, aside from these exceptions, the M.D.-Ph.D. students have the same course requirements as described above for the Ph.D. students.

Elective Courses for both Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. students

Students should take additional elective courses that will best complement their research studies. Students typically complete coursework by the end of their first year in the Microbiology program, except in cases where courses are only offered in alternate years. Course offerings change each year and so students are advised to consult the student link to identify courses that might be suitable, and to discuss course options with their advisor and with Drs. Deole or Davey.

Examples of elective courses taken by students in the Microbiology Program:

GMS GE 701 Principles of Genetics and Genomics, 4 cr

GMS BI 777 Techniques in Biomedical research, 2 cr

GMS BY 776 Macromolecular Assemblies I, 2 cr
GMS BY 777 Macromolecular Assemblies II, 2 cr

GMS MM 710 Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, 2 cr

GMS MM 725 Biology of the Lung and Pulmonary Disease, 2 cr

GMS FC 705 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Translational Genetics and Genomics, 2 cr
GMS FC 706 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Molecular Metabolism, 2 cr


Students will be evaluated by the qualifying exam committee at the end of year 2, and then by the dissertation advisory committee and Drs. Deole and Davey thereafter.

For students pre-qualifying exam, the expectations are:

  • Maintaining a B average (3.0) in courses
  • Receiving no grades below B-
  • Attending and participating in journal clubs, seminars, and speaker lunches (Virology, Immunology & Microbiology and Immunology Training Program Seminar Series, and Virology, Immunology & Microbiology and Immunology Training Program Trainee Seminar and Journal Club Series)
  • Completing Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Completing laboratory rotations and successful identification of a dissertation laboratory

For students post-qualifying exam, the expectations are:

  • Scheduling and having timely dissertation advisory committee meetings
  • Performing satisfactory dissertation research (determined by the student’s advisor and Dissertation Advisory Committee)
  • Attending and participating in journal clubs, seminars and speaker lunches

Implicit in a student’s evaluation and the definition of good standing is a student’s conduct which includes but is not limited to the following:

Students must adhere to the rules of conduct as they are outlined by the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences in its documents “Academic Standards and Disciplinary Procedures” and “Code of Student Responsibilities.” Students must also adhere to the rules and policies of Boston University regarding sexual harassment. Copies of documents describing these rules and policies can be obtained through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (

Students who meet the expectations above will be deemed to be in good standing. A student must be in good standing to progress to Qualifying Exams.

Dr. Deole will provide feedback to students, at their request, throughout their time in the graduate program and will reach out to students who are not meeting expectations.

If a student fails to meet expectations, appropriate action will be taken which could include one of the following recommendations:

  1. additional coursework and/or directed study to remediate deficiencies
  2. revocation of financial aid
  3. dismissal from the program


Teaching is an important training experience for students who plan on an academic career, and the Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology encourages students to avail themselves of opportunities to gain teaching experience within GMS. However, we also recognize that there are many other career alternatives and our goal is to broadly train our students to be scientists who can take advantage of different pathways for using their scientific training. Boston University offers a BU-BEST program aimed at helping Ph.D. graduate students explore the variety of career paths that are open to them. The Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology encourages students to take advantage of this program, and the opportunities to gain experience in different career paths, e.g. by participating in entrepreneurship workshops, MassBioED courses, etc. For more details, please see


Seminars and journal clubs are important components of training at all stages of a scientific career and all students are encouraged to attend seminars in a variety of disciplines. In addition, all students in the Microbiology Department are expected to attend and participate in Departmental seminars throughout their graduate career.

The Department of Microbiology, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), and the Immunology Training Program host a combined weekly seminar series. This joint seminar series includes invited speakers from other institutions and is held WEDNESDAYS, from 12:00-1:00. See for more details. Following these guest speaker seminars, students may meet with the speakers over lunch to discuss research. Each student who has completed their second-year coursework is expected to attend at least four lunches over the course of the academic year.

In addition, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology Training Program hold a Trainee Seminar Series and Journal Club which includes seminars and journal clubs by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on MONDAYS, from 12:00-1:00 ( For the 2021-2022 academic year, the trainee seminars will be held in the first months of the year and the journal clubs at the end of the year. Journal clubs are a trainee-driven discussion of research papers chosen from the current scientific literature. Students should choose a paper on a topic with which they are very familiar (such as their area of research), so that they are able to give a comprehensive background and explain the significance of the article to the field, as well as describing the research findings that the paper describes. Students are expected to participate in journal clubs.

Check the Microbiology website at for information on both of these seminar series.

Both the Department of Microbiology and the Immunology Training Program will feature one invited speaker from another institute who is chosen by students in the department/program. These speakers typically are internationally recognized leaders in their field of expertise.

Each student is required to present at least one seminar per year. In an effort to provide feedback to students on their seminars, students and faculty are invited to critique student seminars after each presentation.

All graduate student seminars (except for dissertation defense seminars) will be limited to 20 minutes each with an additional 5 minutes for questions. There are 2 graduate students scheduled for each seminar slot.

Seminars should be well organized and will normally include the following components: 1) a brief but inclusive background summary of the general topic of the student’s dissertation project; 2) a statement of the student’s research goals (i.e. what question(s) the student is trying to answer); 3) a summary of the student’s results to date and conclusions drawn by the student from their results; and 4) future experiments that the student intends to carry out.

At the completion of a student’s graduate training and as an essential part of their Departmental and Divisional degree requirements, a dissertation seminar is required of all students. It will be the responsibility of the student and advisor to schedule this seminar at a time that will ensure maximum attendance by members of the Department and the Medical School community.

In addition, all students are strongly encouraged to attend additional seminars offered within the Boston University Medical School community. Our medical center is also fortunate to be in close proximity to other academic centers.


Qualifying exams allow the training faculty to evaluate whether the student has accrued a level of scientific knowledge commensurate with their level in the program, as well as to determine a student’s organizational and analytical abilities based on the research s/he has carried out during the laboratory rotations. There are two components of the qualifying examination, both administered by appropriate members of the training faculty. Both exams allow the faculty to evaluate the student’s knowledge base, but the exams differ in depth of expertise required of the student.

The Qualifying Exam Committee composition changes regularly and follows the guidelines of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. The composition of the ad hoc Qualifying Exam Committee includes:

  1. A committee chair, who is a member of the Microbiology graduate faculty
  2. A minimum of four members of the program faculty in the student’s area of concentration
  3. Other members as needed
  1. First preliminary exam component

Format: The first preliminary exam has two parts: (1) an in-depth editorial on a paper related to their dissertation research and (2) an oral presentation in a closed session before members of an ad hoc Qualifying Exam Committee. Ph.D. students typically take the first preliminary exam at the beginning of the Spring semester of their 2nd year. M.D./ Ph.D. students typically take the exam at the beginning of the Spring semester of their 1st year in the program.

Purpose: The first preliminary exam is a formative assessment (i.e. it is not graded). The purpose is to help the student to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to provide advice on how those weaknesses can be remedied (e.g. through course work or directed study) so that the student can fully prepare themselves for the second preliminary exam. Students are welcome to seek advice and guidance from their mentor in preparing for this exam.

Content: The written editorial should be 4-6 pages single spaced, Arial 11 point text (not including references). It can include a model figure or figures, but should not include any of the results figures of the paper being discussed.

It should include the following elements:

  • An introduction to the field
  • Identification of the gap in knowledge that the paper addresses (why is the paper important)
  • A summary of the key findings of the paper
  • An explanation of what techniques/ methods were used and why
  • An explanation of the key strengths of the paper
  • An explanation of any weaknesses or caveats of the paper
  • Identification of what gaps in knowledge remain

For the oral component, the student will prepare a slide show of the paper. In addition to assessing the student’s understanding of the paper, the Qualifying Exam Committee will ask general concept questions to help them assess the student’s knowledge of their area of concentration, as well as their foundational knowledge in appropriate areas of the biomedical sciences, including cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, etc. The student’s mentor may be present for the oral component, but is not a member of the Exam Committee.

Evaluation: The Qualifying Exam Committee will identify the student’s strengths and weaknesses. The chair of the committee will convey to the student and the advisor what those strengths and weaknesses are, and any recommendations for remedial action. If significant deficiencies are identified, the committee chair will notify Dr. Deole, who will meet with the Committee and the student’s advisor to determine next steps.

  1. Second preliminary exam component

Format: The second preliminary exam has three parts: (1) a short report, (2) a 30-45 minute presentation in an open session of the students and faculty of the training program(s), and (3) a closed session of questioning by the ad hoc Qualifying Exam Committee. Students are entitled to have up to two weeks fully dedicated to qualifying exam preparation during the month of May should they choose to do so.

Purpose: The second preliminary exam is a summative assessment. The examining committee evaluates the student’s progress to determine if the student is qualified for Ph.D. level research. The student should demonstrate that they have the potential to fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D. (see the Rubric section above).  If the student passes the exam, s/he should be advanced to dissertation status. No student may be advanced to dissertation status without passing this qualifying exam.

Content: The exam is based on what the student plans to do for their dissertation research*. The written component is a document written in the style of the Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections of an F31 grant application (for examples see ). The document should be ~8 pages (excluding references) with figures embedded within it. Although it is expected that students are technically competent, the goal of this document is for the student to demonstrate their ability and aptitude for Ph.D. research, and the amount of preliminary data that they themselves have generated is not assessed. The student should seek guidance from their advisor regarding the scope of the aims, but should not receive help from the advisor or others in crafting and writing the proposal. The oral component consists of a 30-45 minute research seminar open to all students and faculty, followed by a closed oral exam before the qualifying exam committee. Students can seek help from more advanced students for practicing their research seminars (see list of students and responsibilities at the end of this guide).

Evaluation: The student’s written report must be submitted to the Qualifying Exam Committee on June 1st, 2022. The research seminar and closed door exam will typically be held in mid-June, but the exact dates might vary, depending on faculty availability. During the research seminar, the student is expected to explain clearly the background and rationale for the research questions. S/he must also explain the experimental approach and provide an interpretation their data and how the data fit in with the existing scientific literature. Finally, s/he must be able to answer questions from the audience.

Following the research seminar, the Qualifying Exam Committee will meet with the student’s advisor in a closed session and ask the advisor to assess the performance of the student in the laboratory. The committee will then excuse the advisor and meet with the student in a closed session. At this time, the committee will examine the student’s performance and clarify issues raised by the written document and during the research seminar. The committee will also ask questions to test the student’s understanding of the research project and of general concepts in microbiology, immunology and/or microbial pathogenesis. The committee will then excuse the student and determine whether the student has passed both the written and oral components of the exam and should be advanced to dissertation status. If the committee votes to fail the student, the committee chair will forward the decision to Dr. Deole who will consult with the student’s advisor and Drs. Corley and Davey to decide if the student is allowed to retake the written and/or oral exam or should be recommended for dismissal from the program.

Notification: The student will be notified by the Qualifying Exam Committee.

*It must be understood by the student, the dissertation advisor, and the committee that the proposal submitted for fulfillment of the qualifying exam need not influence the student’s dissertation project. It remains up to the dissertation advisor in independent consultation with the student to determine the dissertation project.


Advancement to candidacy indicates that the student possesses the organizational, intellectual and conceptual skills necessary for Ph.D. level research, and is judged capable and prepared to perform dissertation work.


Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students should assemble a Dissertation Advisory Committee either prior to or shortly after completion of the qualifying exam.

Student Dissertation Advisory Committees

A student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee should reflect a balance of expertise needed to guide a student in their research project. A student should choose members of their committee in consultation with their advisor and Dr. Deole. The membership of the committee must be approved by Dr. Deole. All committee members must hold graduate appointments in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. Committee members from outside of the institution should hold graduate level faculty appointments at their home institutions and are able to receive special service appointments in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences for the duration of their service on a student’s committee:

Committee composition:

If the advisor is a member of the Microbiology graduate faculty:

  • Advisor
  • 2 other members of the Microbiology graduate faculty
  • 2 additional members with faculty appointments in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (at least 1 of whom should be from outside of the Virology, Immunology & Microbiology Department)

If the advisor is not a member of the Microbiology graduate faculty:

  • Advisor
  • 3 members of the Microbiology graduate faculty
  • 1 other member with a faculty appointment in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (preferably from outside the Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology)

The DGS will appoint 1 of the 5 committee members, not the student’s advisor, to chair the committee. The chair will be a member of the Microbiology graduate faculty.


The Research Advisory Committee must meet with the student no later than the end of the semester following the qualifying exam date. Ideally, the first committee meeting should be held in the months of September to early December. The committee must then reconvene approximately every six months (unless otherwise determined by the Dissertation Advisory Committee or Dr. Deole) to discuss research progress with the student.

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule their committee meetings. Drs. Deole, Davey and Kathy Marinelli should be notified by E-mail at,, and, respectively of the date, time, and place of each meeting as soon as the meeting is set but no later than 2 weeks prior to the meeting. Kathy can help with room bookings if necessary. Drs. Deole, Davey and Kathy should also be notified of any changes in meetings.

One week prior to a student’s first meeting with their Dissertation Advisory Committee, the student must submit to committee members and Drs. Deole and Davey an outline of the proposed dissertation project. The first committee report should provide the committee members with the information necessary to understand the hypothesis to be tested and the rationale for the hypothesis. It should include a specific aims section, a background and rationale section, a preliminary results section, and a section describing the experimental approach that will be used to carry out the studies. This report should be no more than 5-10 pages in length. In addition, a limited number of well-selected figures or tables providing salient data should also be included.

In general, it is best for students to have their subsequent committee meetings following their Departmental seminars, but since this is not always possible, it is acceptable to schedule each on a separate day. Also, it is inevitable that at some point there will be scheduling conflicts with committee members that will make it impossible for all committee members to agree on a meeting date. It is better to schedule a meeting in the absence of one committee member (not the advisor or committee chair) than to postpone committee meetings for months. At least three days prior to each subsequent committee meeting, each student should provide members of the committee and Drs. Deole and Davey with a brief outline of the student’s research progress. The outline should include each of the specific aims and the progress that has been made to date in addressing those aims. It should also include the future studies that the student plans to carry out to address the aims. In essence, the outline should be a running compilation of the student’s dissertation research. The student should be sure to indicate how they have addressed issues or concerns raised at the previous meeting. This outline should be kept brief (no more than 1-2 pages). Experimental findings should be included separately as figures and/or tables.

In the event that there is a significant change in research directions, the student should supplement the report with a brief background and rationale section to explain the change in research direction.

At the conclusion of each committee meeting, the committee chair and the student will review the meeting. It will be the responsibility of the student to prepare a short report summarizing the meeting. The student will forward the summary to the committee chair for additional review, comments, time frame for the next committee meeting, and approval. The committee chair will email the final and approved summary to Kathy Marinelli ( who will distribute copies to the student, committee members, and Dr. Deole.


As part of the Ph.D. requirements, a written dissertation describing the student’s research accomplishments must be submitted and defended. The dissertation is based on original laboratory research. Students are expected to finish the Ph.D. having made a significant contribution to their field of research.  The expectation is for at least 1-2 first (or co-first) author publications summarizing the work.  Exceptions can be considered in consultation with the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee.

There are some very specific deadlines to be met, which if missed could delay the final oral examination. Many of these are set by the registrar’s office and are not flexible. Advice on dissertation preparation and a deadline calendar can be found at the following URL:  “General Research, Thesis and Dissertation Information”  “PhD completion of degree checklist”.

Students are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Deole 10 months before they plan to defend their dissertations to determine what is required.

Before the student begins to write a formal dissertation document, both the major advisor and the Research Advisory Committee must agree that the student has completed a significant body of original research. Once the dissertation has been written, the student is required to present a formal seminar followed by an oral defense of the dissertation. A written dissertation that has been approved by the 1st reader must be delivered to the 2nd reader one month before the scheduled date of the oral defense. A revised dissertation that addresses the 2nd reader’s comments must be delivered to all committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled date of the oral defense. Failure to meet these deadlines will result in the delay of the oral defense. Exceptions may be granted but only with the full consent of the Dissertation Advisory Committee and Dr. Deole and/or Davey. Each student is required to provide the Department with a final copy of their dissertation before the Department will sign off on the necessary paperwork in order for the student to complete their degree requirements.


Ph.D. degrees are awarded three times a year, January, May and September. M.A. degrees are awarded three times a year, January, May, and September.


Students in the program receive full tuition coverage, fees, health insurance options and a stipend (the stipend is set at $41,200 for the 2023/2024 academic year). Students who acquire external funding (e.g. F30, F31, etc.) will receive a one-time $1,000 increase in their stipend.

The Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology also provides $1,000 to second year, pre-qualifying exam students to help defray the cost of computers, books, or conferences. Students should contact Kathy Marinelli ( for additional information.

The department also recognizes that graduate students may not have the means to wait for reimbursement of credit card charges for conference related expenses. Rebecca Washburn ( in the Microbiology Office will be available to pay for these expenses in advance using a departmental purchasing card. If students are interested in utilizing this option, they should contact Becky to make arrangements.


More detailed information will be distributed throughout the year as deadlines approach on the following graduate student awards.

Corwin Award: Awarded by the Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology to a Virology, Immunology & Microbiology pre-doctoral graduate student, engaged in a research project, in recognition of exemplary scholarly and/or scientific achievement, values of collegiality and scientific integrity. The award is named for Dr. Laurence Corwin who was a Microbiology faculty member for many years before his untimely death in 1983, and consists of a $1000 cash prize, a certificate, and a luncheon. Eligible students are nominated and voted on by faculty.

Russek Award: Awarded to Ph.D. and/or M.D.-Ph.D. students (usually 2 awards per basic science department, one first prize and one second prize) who have successfully completed their qualifying exam and are engaged in a research project. Students are nominated for this award which recognizes graduate student accomplishments and commitment to the pursuit of research in basic sciences. Awards are presented at the Henry I. Russek Student Achievement Day which is usually held in April and consists of poster sessions and oral presentations. The award is administered through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences and is named for Dr. Henry I. Russek, a physician/scientist who made significant contributions to research and post-graduate education over a career of four decades.

Travel Awards: The Department of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology provides up to three travel awards per year, a possible 1-3 to VIM graduate students and up to 2 to post-docs to attend scientific meetings. There is one annual competition and it is open to all VIM graduate students and those post-docs in the laboratories of primary VIM faculty. The deadline is usually at the end of January and e-mails are sent approximately 1 month and 1 week prior to the deadline along with the application form. The first prize is in the amount of $750 and the second and third prizes are in the amounts of $500 each. The top prize can go to either a graduate student or a post-doc and the meetings must occur within 6 months prior to or after the travel award deadline. In addition, the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences provides travel awards to graduate students. More information on the GMS travel awards can be found at:


Title IX & BU Policies: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. Sex-based discrimination includes sexual harassment and sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. The law covers sex-based discrimination against students, faculty, and staff.

Reporting infractions of Title IX or other negative behaviors:

Graduate Students

Under Title IX,

Gwyneth Offner, Director, M.A. Medical Sciences Program (GMS) / (617) 358-9541

Karen Symes, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Student Affairs (MED) / (617) 358-4578


Under Ethics Point (see link and specifically look at the FAQ section)

All BU Faculty, Staff, Students, etc.

Office of the Ombuds see link

Departmental Retreat: The department holds an annual retreat each Fall. The retreat features short big picture talks by VIM faculty and a guest speaker from outside the department. The retreat also provides an opportunity for graduate students and post-doctoral trainees to present their research as ePoster PowerPoint presentations on laptop computers.

Websites: The address for the Department’s website is Seminar and journal club announcements are posted here. In addition, information on curricula, courses, faculty research interests, and departmental events can be found at this site. The Immunology Training Program has its own website at

E-mail: This is our primary means of communication. Make sure to check your email often.

Mail: All graduate student mail will be sent to their advisor’s laboratory.


Graduate Student Representatives: Virology, Immunology & Microbiology graduate students are represented at Virology, Immunology & Microbiology Faculty Meetings and other institutional meetings as the need arises. The term is 2 years and as one student rotates off, a new representative is elected. The current representatives are Elizabeth Chavez and Elias Nafziger.

Student responsibilities for the 2022-2023 academic year are listed below:

Student Representative to the Faculty
1. Elizabeth Chavez (1-year appointment)
2. Elias Nafziger (2-year appointment)

Representatives to the GMSSO
1. Elise Armstrong

Student representative for the VIM Retreat
1. Ellen Suder (2023)
2. Michael Vannini (2024)

Student Representative for Seminar Speaker Diversity Subcommittee
1. Christina McConney

VIM Community Outreach Chair
1. Jonathan Kilroy
2. Kara Vasilew

Order pizza for journal club
1. Ivy Hughes

Set up and breakdown X222 for seminars
1. Callie Donahue
2. Joelle Johnson
3. Joseph McWhirter

Organize Happy Hour
1. Scott Adams
2. Jonathan Kilroy

Purchase student gift for graduating students
1. Devin Kenney
2. Christina McConney

Organize qualifying exam oral presentation practice sessions
1. Sita Ramaswamy

Smooth transition for 2nd years joining VIM (getting paid, expectations, etc.)
1. Stephen Ross

Organize welcome party for incoming 2nd years
1. Jonathan Kilroy
2. Scott Adams