"Rotations during the PIBS year are helpful because they encourage a two-way relationship that helps faculty and students get to know each other before making a long-term commitment to do a dissertation together. PIBS allows students up to a full year to choose a lab. I had a student who was still uncertain after her second lab and decided to rotate through a third lab to help her decide. The main goal is to get a sense of the field in which you’ll be working. Even within the Human Genetics department there are very diverse areas. My lab is focused on quantitative and qualitative research on people within certain populations.
"A lot of students who rotate through my lab are exploring. Some of them did not realize the type of research we do was even an option before coming here. When I was an undergrad in mathematics, I also had a strong interest in biomedical research. It took me a while to figure out how to merge the two together, but it is more common now. Still, our approach is new to a lot of students, and we work to familiarize them with the tools that are available.
"It's important to be passionate about the area of research you plan to work in. What excites you? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning and go to the lab to check on experiments or run simulations? What's even more important is the match between you and your mentor. This is even more critical than the topic of your dissertation. It has to be the right match since you will be spending the next four to five years working closely together. The nice thing about PIBS with that philosophy is that you have so many options available to you. There are so many resources at this institution in so many diverse areas that you may not have been exposed to before. It is a great training ground."