Laboratory Rotations

BPH students are required to do official laboratory rotations to help identify a Dissertation Laboratory Advisor. Laboratory rotations permit students to gain familiarity with several different laboratories, not only to learn concepts and techniques, but also to primarily select a laboratory in which they will complete their dissertation research.

Number and Selection of Rotations
Students are required to complete two rotations but ordinarily participate in three 8-10-week rotations in different laboratories. Of the three rotations, two must be performed in a BPH faculty laboratory. If a student identifies a dissertation laboratory after two rotations, s/he may petition the BPH Program Director to begin their dissertation research in lieu of further rotation studies.

Any BPH faculty member may be approached for rotations. While the offer of a rotation is not an obligation of a laboratory to ultimately accept that student, the student should rotate only in laboratories that are willing and able, considering space and financial capacity, to accept new students. To facilitate the selection of laboratory rotations, students may refer to descriptions of faculty research and recent publications found on the faculty member’s website.  Additionally, first year students will be required to attend “faculty pizza talks” which occur weekly from July through early September.  These talks will be informal 60-minute presentation/discussions with faculty about the current and future research directions of their laboratory. These interactions greatly facilitate students making well thought-out choices about their rotations and future studies. Rotations with faculty outside the BPH Program must be approved in advance by the Program Director.  Please note that if a student wants to rotate with a faculty member outside of BPH, that faculty member must be HILS-affiliated.

Preparing for Rotations
Before beginning any rotation, the laboratory head and the student must reach an agreement about what the project will involve and the length of the rotation, typically 9-10 weeks. In addition, the laboratory head and student should explore whether or not this is a potential dissertation laboratory, considering appropriate funding to support a doctoral student, should there to be a mutual interest in the future. To receive credit, not only must a student register via Harvard Griffin GSAS registration for BPH 201R, but they must also complete a Rotation Registration Form, signed by the student, laboratory head, and submitted to the BPH Program Director for approval prior to the beginning of the rotation.

In preparation for working in laboratories, all incoming BPH students will be required to complete virtual/online lab safety training as well as occupational health clearance forms prior to the July Orientation.  Furthermore, prior to each rotation, students will need to undergo a laboratory safety orientation and may be required to complete additional safety trainings pertinent to the specific laboratory work to be performed.  It is the student’s responsibility to check in with both the PI and lab manager to determine the exact requirements necessary prior to beginning each rotation.

Completing Rotations
Upon completion of the 1st and 2nd laboratory rotations in September and December, respectively, first year students will write a two-page report and present the background and findings of the rotation in an oral presentation to an audience comprised of BPH students, faculty, and other members of the rotation lab. Subsequently, at the culmination of each laboratory rotation, the faculty mentor is required to evaluate student performance by completing a Rotation Evaluation Form.

Rising G2 Talks
At the end of their first academic year, during BPH Orientation Week for new students in July, G2 students will be required to select one rotation for an oral presentation which will be presented to the BPH community at our annual Rising G2 Talks event.


2023-2024 Rotation Schedule

Rotation One- Summer  [9 weeks]

Rotation Registration Forms Due: Friday, July 7, 2023

Start the Rotation: Monday, July 17, 2023

End the Rotation: Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Rotation Evaluations by Supervising Faculty Due: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Rotation Two – Fall [10 weeks]  – (Tentatively Winter Recess Begins December 21)

Rotation 2 Registration Forms Due: Friday, September 29, 2023

Start Rotation 2: Monday, October 2, 2023

End Rotation 2: Friday, December 8, 2023

Rotation 2 Evaluations by Supervising Faculty Due: Wednesday, December 13, 2023


Rotation Three – Winter [9 weeks]

Rotation 3 Registration Forms Due: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Start Rotation 3: Monday, January 8, 2024

End Rotation 3: Friday, March 8, 2024

Rotation 3 Evaluations by Supervising Faculty Due: Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Rotation Four – Spring [8 weeks] – (Expected Spring Recess dates are March 9– March 17)

Rotation 4 Registration Forms Due: Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Start Rotation 4: Monday, March 18, 2024

End Rotation 4: Friday, May 10, 2024

Rotation 4 Evaluations by Supervising Faculty Due: Wednesday, May 15, 2024