Current topics in the applied life sciences 

Students will be required to attend weekly colloquia on current topics in the applied life sciences during the first and second PhD years. The colloquia are designed to encourage in-depth reading of primary literature related to the student’s thesis research and to increase knowledge of topics of high general interest. Evaluation of students’ formal presentations of literature topics, given in each semester of the first PhD year, will serve the function of the Qualifying Examination. Incorporated within the current topics series will be one or more seminars dedicated to the ethical conduct of research.

Qualifying examination 

Each student in the first PhD year will be required to present two topics through oral presentations and written reviews, and to pass subsequent oral examinations. The topics for these student presentations will be assigned and carefully chosen from the current scientific literature to allow examiners to assess the extent of the student’s basic knowledge, communication skills and ability to analyze and integrate information.

Original research

All students will be required to execute an original research project under the mentorship of a faculty advisor. The research advisor and the mentoring team will play a central role in monitoring student progress and preventing an unnecessarily long time to degree completion; they will also decide when the student has amassed a sufficient body of work to start writing the thesis. Because of the unpredictable nature of research, the mentoring team may recommend extension of PhD training beyond three years. Research will be conducted predominantly on site at KGI, but certain portions of the work may be carried out at another institution within the framework of an ongoing collaboration.

Thesis proposal

By the end of the spring semester of the first PhD year, each student will present and defend an original thesis proposal before his/her mentoring team. The student will be expected to demonstrate competency in the general thesis research area, a strong working knowledge of the specific thesis research topic and the capability for original contribution to the field.

Fall research retreat and progress reports

Each year, PhD students will be required to participate in the KGI Fall Research Retreat. Students in the first PhD year will merely be required to attend, while students in their second and third PhD years will present annual progress reports to be evaluated and approved by their mentoring teams. The research retreats will foster communication among students and faculty, aids the development of interdisciplinary ties, and the creation of a strong research community. Annual research retreats will help ensure student accountability for progress toward the degree.

Original research proposal or business plan

At the end of the second PhD year, students will be required to develop and defend an original research proposal or an SBIR-type applied research proposal with business plan, in a topic outside the specific area of the thesis, as a demonstration of originality and creativity. The research proposal might lead to or prepare students for postdoctoral fellowship applications, while the applied research proposal / business plan will introduce additional business concepts for students who wish to pursue industrial careers.

Thesis defense

The submission of the thesis and final thesis defense will follow the traditional format. One chapter of the PhD thesis may discuss potential ethical and business implications of the thesis research.