Current Ph.D. Students

Graduate Program Steering Committee: 2023-2024

Christina Hull


Jake Brunkard


Daniela Drummond-Barbosa


Ahmed Mahmoud


Katie Drerup


Mark Mandel


Harshi Cormaty


Martha Reck


Nicole Perna


John Pool


Graduate Student Committee: 2023-2024

Sherlyn Wijaya

Liz Nouel


Siyuan Feng


Khaghani Eynullazada


Ryan Ward


Genetics PhD Program Information and Handbook

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Current Graduate Students

Course Requirements

Course Requirements

  1. Genetics 701, Advanced Genetics, 3 credits, Fall Year 1
  2. Genetics 707, Genetics of Development, 3 credits, Spring Year 1*
  3. Genetics 702, Advanced Genetics II, 3 credits, Spring Year 1
  4. Genetics 708, Methods and Logic in Genetic Analysis, 3 credits, Spring Year 2*
  5. Responsible Conduct in Research course, 1 credit (either Oncology 715, Biochem 729 Section 8 , BMC 701, or other approved RCR course)
  6. Elective: Any graduate level Genetics course (including special topics) ^
  7. Four seminars including summer colloquiums
  8. Specialized elective coursework at the discretion of your thesis committee

* Genetics 707 and 708 are taken by the first and second years together, 707 is offered one year and 708 the next

^ Students wishing to take a course outside of Genetics course offerings may petition the Graduate Program Steering Committee

Evaluation of performance

Your continuation is dependent on satisfactory performance. The Graduate School requires an average of a B (3.0) or better in all coursework taken as a graduate student.

Course loads

The normal full-time enrollment is 8-12 graduate credits during Fall and Spring semesters. You may not register for more than a total of 12 credits. The majority of your courses should be in the 600-999 range, but courses numbered 300-599 may be taken for graduate credit if outlined in the course attributes of the catalog. Pass/fail courses (except research and seminars) will not count for graduate residence or course credit. Audit courses do not confer credit of any sort and also do not count in determining minimum or maximum credits permitted in each term. Students who have completed the residence requirements, satisfied all of the requirements for the major and minor, and passed preliminary exams are called “dissertators”. These students must enroll for 3 “dissertator credits” per semester. During Summer semester the normal full-time enrollment is 2 credits. Dissertators must enroll for 3 credits.


Before you receive any graduate degree from UW-Madison The Graduate Schoool requires a minimum of 32 graduate level credit hours be satisfactorily completed while in residence at UW-Madison. Only courses numbered 300 or above are counted (50% must carry graduate attributes), and research credits may be included.

Other Requirements

  1. Certification meeting with your committee to approve coursework. Completion of signed First-Year Certification Meeting Form.
  2. Yearly committee meeting with review of Individualized Development Plan. Completion of signed Annual Meeting Form.
  3. One semester of Teaching Experience in a Genetics course. Students may petition to TA a course outside of Genetics
  4. Writing workshop (993, section 2) during summer of the first year.
  5. Summer colloquium presentations each summer beginning year 3.
  6. Oral Thesis Proposal Defense exam: Oral defense of thesis proposal to thesis advisory committee. Signed warrant must be submitted to the Graduate School.
  7. Completion of Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) course (2nd year) and RCR workshop (4th year)
  8. Writing and successfully defending the PhD thesis including public seminar and exam with thesis advisory committee. Signed warrant must be submitted to the Graduate School.

Requirements at a Glance

Year 1 Fall Spring Summer
◊ Genetics 701 – 3 credits

◊ Complete 3-4 rotations (4 weeks each)

◊ Join Lab

◊ Genetics 702 – 3 credits

◊ Genetics 707 or 708 – 3 credits

◊ Choose committee members

◊ Teaching Assistant Training

◊ Complete first-year certification meeting (by June)

◊ Writing workshop

Year 2 Fall Spring Summer
◊ TA for Genetics 466, 467, 468, or 566  (either Fall or Spring) ◊ Genetics 707 or 708- 3 credits

◊ Oncology 715 or another RCR course- 1 credit

◊ TA for Genetics 466, 467, 468, or 566 (either Fall or Spring)


◊Oral Thesis Proposal Defense – must be completed by August 31 (preferably earlier) of the second year
Year 3 Fall Spring Summer
◊ Hold annual committee meeting and complete paperwork ◊ Present Summer Colloquium
Year 4 Fall Spring Summer
◊ Hold annual committee meeting and complete paperwork ◊ Present Summer Colloquium

◊ Responsible Conduct in Research refresher workshop

Year 5 Fall Spring Summer
◊ Hold final meeting 6 mo. prior to defense and complete paperwork ◊ Defend thesis (spring or summer) ◊ Defend thesis (spring or summer)

The Minor

It is a requirement of the UW-Madison Graduate School that you satisfy the requirements for a minor. The Graduate School identifies two options for completing the minor requirement:

OPTION A: This is referred to as an External Minor. You are required to complete a minor field consisting of a minimum of 9 graduate credits in a single department. The courses are prescribed by the minor department, which administers the qualifying examination if such an exam is required. Completion of the Option A Minor is certified by the chairman of the minor department or the minor professor. Almost all graduate programs offer an Option A minor, in addition there are minors that are distinct from graduate programs.

OPTION B: This is generally referred to as a Distributed Minor. It allows students to satisfy the Graduate School requirement without the addition of a significant number of extra courses. This minor requires a minimum of 9 credits in one or more departments and can include course work in the major department. Selection of this option requires the approval your committee and the Department Chair. Many Genetics students choose to complete a distributed minor in Genetics.

Your First Semester


An orientation will be held the week before classes start for your first year. During orientation you will fill out the required paperwork for payroll and for insurance and register for your classes. Most of the week will be spent with scheduled rotation talks given by faculty and mentors who are recruiting graduate students to join their lab.

Lab rotations

In your first semester, you will spend time in the labs of three or four professors whose work interests you. One of these will probably become your mentor. Arranging these lab rotations is, therefore, one of the most important things that you will do in your first year in Madison. The brief descriptions of research given in the rotation talks should assist you in selecting the laboratories to visit. Expect to spend about four to five weeks in each of the three to four labs during the first semester.

Students are responsible for scheduling their own rotations, using the guidelines provided during orientation. You may start scheduling these as soon as you hear a rotation talk of interest. Feel free to consult the Graduate Program Manager if you need help in choosing labs to visit. To avoid disappointment, you should plan to do your rotations through the laboratories of mentors in the Genetics Program who have openings and funding available to take a student. It is suggested that three or four rotations be completed by the end of the fall semester. You will report your schedule to the Graduate Program Manager. At the end of each rotation, both the student and faculty member will be asked to complete an evaluation of the experience.

Selection of a Major Professor

Normally students will decide on a mentor in mid-December. Until a mentor is determined students will be assigned to the Program Director.

Your Committee

When you have identified a mentor and joined their lab, that professor will assume the duties of your primary advisor. At that time you will form a PhD Advisory Committee consisting of three to five faculty members (ultimately it must be five) three of whom must be Genetics trainers, including two members of the Laboratory of Genetics faculty, and one minor advisor, if needed. One member must also be from a different department (all 5 cannot be Genetics faculty members). The PhD Advisory Committee should be established no later than the end of the second semester. Under normal circumstances, the committee membership will remain in effect for the entire tenure of the student’s graduate career.

The PhD Advisory Committee will advise you with regard to major and minor requirements, certification, teaching requirements, and research topic and execution. It will also act as your Oral Prelim Defense Examination Committee and as the Final Oral PhD Examination Committee. After your mentor, this committee is the primary monitoring instrument to assure satisfactory progress toward your degree. The PhD Advisory Committee will meet with you at least once per year. During these annual meetings anticipated timelines for progress of the thesis project should be discussed and concrete guidance should be given about completing the thesis. The annual committee meeting form will be completed each year during your meeting. The meeting and form must be completed for you to register  (and be paid). The annual meeting should address the assessment or your progress and outline any suggestions or recommendations, in addition to verifying the discussion of your Individualized Development Plan.

A good guideline for the annual meeting is to prepare ~20-30 slides (which will expand to a longer discussion with questions from your committee). Your presentation should include an update on your progress, restating your aims (or changes made to the original aims), and should also provide a plan for future directions and a timeline for completion through to graduation.

Before your meeting, complete your Committee Meeting Form. Send a PDF of the completed Committee Meeting Form to your committee and to the Graduate Program Manager.

After your meeting, let the Graduate Program Manager know who chaired your meeting. The Graduate Program Manager will collect a summary from the chair, as well as electronic signatures from your committee members to complete the form.

Certification Process

Certification is a planning process in which you and your committee decide the courses needed to prepare you for your chosen field. The process of certification should be completed as soon as possible, but before summer of your first year.  You and your major professor should agree upon the minor field or the minor option before presenting your proposal to your committee. It is your responsibility to contact the minor professor, if you choose to do an external minor.

You and your PhD Advisory Committee will then participate in a certification meeting. It is useful to prepare a short (15-20 slides) presentation of what your project is/will be so that your committee has an idea of your research area. Together, you will decide upon the specific course work necessary to ensure that your curriculum satisfies both the major and minor departmental and Graduate School requirements. Courses suggested by the committee may be influenced by your research topic and past courses you have taken, which are to be summarized on the Certification form.

Before your meeting, complete your First- Year Certification Form. Send a PDF of the completed Committee Meeting Form to your committee and to the Graduate Program Manager.

After your meeting, let the Graduate Program Manager know who chaired your meeting. The Graduate Program Manager will collect a summary from the chair, as well as electronic signatures from your committee members to complete the form.

Accessing Graduate Student Database and Completing Committee Meeting Forms

The program uses the Graduate Student Database to track student progress. You can find your First Year Certification and your Committee Meeting Form in the database.

1. Go to
2. Log in using your university credentials.
3. Choose the correct form (should already be assigned to you, if it is not please contact the Graduate Program Manager).
4. Complete the information on the form. It will direct you through, use the tracker at the top and the “next” and “back” buttons on the bottom.
5. Save the completed form as a PDF and send it to your committee and the Graduate Program Manager (note- it will look a little wonky, that is fine).
6. Let the Graduate Program Manager know who chaired your meeting. The Graduate Program Manager will collect a summary from the chair, as well as electronic signatures from your committee members to complete the form.

Teaching Assistant Experience

All students are required to be a teaching assistant for one semester for an undergraduate general Genetics class (Genetics 133, 466, 467, 468, or 566). This experience will help students develop pedagogical skills, public speaking skills, and expertise in genetics while participating in the Department’s mission to teach undergraduates. Responsibilities vary but include holding office hours weekly, grading, and offering review sessions. You will TA during your second year,  training will be held the summer before.

Oral Thesis Proposal Defense

Oral Thesis Proposal Exam

Students should provide the committee with a copy of the Oral Prelim Defense Guidelines along with their prelim. This form is meant to benefit students by making it clear what the procedure is.

Genetics Oral Thesis Proposal Defense – cover page

The Oral exam should be completed during the second year of study, and must be completed by August 31 of the 2nd year.  The point of the exam is to judge students on their broad knowledge in genetics, their knowledge of their chosen research area, and their ability to synthesize knowledge to design rigorous research approaches (as outlined on the cover page).  Students should send out their prelim at least one week before hand to their committee members and they should include the cover sheet so that committee members are informed on the Genetics Program policies.  Another goal is for students to get critical feedback from their research committee early in their research projects.  The format of the written document follows the NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellowship research requirements;  students may incorporate committee feedback into their proposals and submit for F31 funding (currently April 8, August 8, December 8 annually).

Satisfactory completion of the Oral exam, along with relevant course, teaching, and minor requirements, is necessary for a student to acquire Dissertator status.  Note that UW discourages courses taken for credit after Dissertator status is attained;  rules stipulate that classes can only be taken after Dissertator status if:  a) the course is directly related to the student’s research, b) the course is 3 credits of fewer, c) the Genetics program document the reason for the post-dissertator course.

The Oral exam generally consists of a ~30 minute presentation by the student and allows for ~2 hours of questions and answers.  Questions can span broad areas of genetics and will also focus on the proposal and presentation. The questions are at the committee’s discretion.

The Oral examination determines each student’s future in the training program. Three outcomes are possible:

  1. The student is given a pass and admitted into candidacy for the Ph.D. degree,
  2. The student is given a deferred decision, in which the committee outlines what aspects of the exam need to be redone with a further meeting with the Oral Thesis Proposal exam Committee, to be completed within six months to determine pass or fail, or
  3. The student fails the exam outright and plans are formulated for early withdrawal from the program, usually with a Masters degree instead of a Ph.D. The student has the right to petition the Graduate Program Steering Committee, including a petition to switch labs.

Prior to taking the Oral exam, you must request through the Graduate Program Manager a preliminary examination warrant from the UW Graduate School. You must request the warrant 2-3 weeks prior to the proposed exam date.   If the residence requirement has been met and all unsatisfactory grades have been cleared or compensated, the warrant is issued. After you have passed the Oral exam and at the actual meeting, the warrant is signed electronically by the members of your committee.  If your records are in order, you are formally admitted as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.

You must maintain continuous registration from the time of admission to candidacy until all degree requirements have been completed, even if you should leave campus. A candidate for the Ph.D. degree who fails to take the final thesis defense within five years of submitting the signed warrant may be required to take another preliminary examination to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Proposals for the Oral Thesis Proposal Examination

The purpose of the following outline is to provide some guidance for students as to the form and function of the written proposal portion of the Oral exam.  The written portion is modeled after the NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellowship guidelines.

The goal of the written document, like an F31 grant, should be to persuade a reviewing group that your goals are interesting and important, that you have chosen a plan of experimentation that is highly likely to return interesting and interpretable results in a reasonable time frame, and that you have the background and understanding to bring this plan to fruition.  In any such proposal, clarity is key.  The people who review the proposal will not all be experts in your field and you must therefore provide significant information to document the above goals to this group.  In line with this idea, you should avoid unnecessary arguments and information, since they will distract from the essential arguments. Begin your preparations of the overall outline of the proposal well before the fact and discuss the goals and approaches with others before writing the proposal. You are strongly encouraged to obtain input from other students and colleagues, and particularly from your advisor, prior to distribution of the proposal to your committee. The proposal description below contains information about the overall structure of the proposal as well as suggestions about each of the individual sections.  If you have further questions concerning the proposal, contact either your research advisor or the Program Director or Student Coordinator.

Like all research proposals, the written portion of the Oral exam should not be viewed as a contract; the successful dissertator may pursue other related topics/aims for completion of the Ph.D.  The purpose of the document is to demonstrate the ability to synthesize in writing a reasonable and coherent research plan and to discuss it intelligently with one’s faculty committee. It is often advisable to divide the following sections into subsections with titles to orient the reader.

Overall format:

The total length of the written document is restricted to 7 pages (including figures but not including bibliography), single-line spacing, Arial 11 pt font, with 0.5 inch margins all around.  The format should be as follows:

Specific Aims (1 page):

The aims page generally consists of ½ page narrative of the overarching problem, why it is important, and the guiding questions of your research project.  This is followed by an outline of the aims, with 1-2 sentences under each aim header listing the specific approaches that will be used to address that aim.  The aims provide the framework for the Approach section, so its organization is key to the entire proposal.  Try to be realistic and propose an amount of work that you are likely to accomplish in the next 2-3 years;  excessively optimistic proposal suggest a lack of critical thought.

Research Strategy (6 pages with the following sections):

Background and Significance (~1.5 – 2 pages):   This section should contain enough information to make the subsequent sections understandable to the reader.  It should also give the reader an understanding of the state of the field before your participation.  It should therefore cite any critical information that is either published, or known to you through personal communication.  Your accomplishments will be described in the following sections, but it may be necessary to allude to some of your results in this section for clarity or argument.  Relevant results from others in your laboratory should be described in this section.  This section should also serve to convince the reader that the general questions chosen are important.  Be sure to adequately cite the existing literature (a key sign to reviewers that you have deep knowledge of the field).

Preliminary Results (if relevant, usually 1-1.5 pages):  Describe the progress relevant to the proposal that you personally have made while in the lab.  The goal of this section is to convince the reader that you have made some progress and/or that you have developed laboratory and analytical skills that will be necessary to complete the proposed work.

Experimental Approach (2.5-3 pages):  Typically organization in this section will follow the order laid out in the Specific Aims.  The goal here is to show that the approach you have chosen will yield interpretable results and that you really understand those approaches.  You should lay out the approach for each experiment, with enough detail to show the reader that you have thoroughly thought through the experiment.  Outline the expected results and how it will advance your understanding.  Each aim should have a section addressing potential pitfalls and alternate approaches that could address those pitfalls.  Provide enough information to make it clear that you understand each technique; this does not mean an abundance of detail, but a terse description of the approach and potential problems and shortfalls in the experiment or its analysis.  If there are obvious experiments that will not be done, briefly say why (because reviewers will otherwise think of those). Throughout this section, make your priorities clear; not every experiment is equally important, and some approaches will be pursued only under certain circumstances.  Continually orient the reader by explaining how each intermediate goal fits into the overall plan. 

Timeline: This is often a short table that should be a realistic estimate of when the critical intermediate goals in the proposal will be accomplished.  It should also make clear when the primary approaches will be dropped and the alternatives adopted.  You wish to show that, no matter what happens, you will return with an investigation suitable for a thesis in a reasonable time period, even if some of the experiments do not go as planned.

Literature Cited (additional pages):

Using a standard format (authors’ names and journal citation including titles), list the references cited throughout the proposal.  This should not only document your understanding of the current state of information, but also that you know the critical sources of information on the methods you have proposed to use.

Thesis and Defense

The written thesis generally consists of an introduction chapter, one or more research chapters (often published papers or works in progress, in manuscript format), and a short final chapter of ongoing questions and future directions.  Students may include appendices if they wish (on work unrelated to the main thesis).  Each Chapter title page should have a statement about your contributions to the chapter (e.g. if you did the experiments, analysis, and wrote the chapter or if someone else contributed to some of the experiments) and a citation if the work was published.

Your thesis must be submitted to your committee members no later than two weeks before the date of the examination. The examination includes a seminar open to the public followed by a closed-session examination with your thesis committee.  You have five years from the date of passing your prelim exams to take your final oral exam and submit your dissertation. At least three weeks prior to your final oral exam you must request a warrant through the online system.

To pass the examination, you must receive no more than one dissenting vote from your committee. A missing signature is considered a dissent. After you pass the exam, the committee must sign the warrant electronically and the warrant must be submitted online with your thesis.  If the student is unable to meet the thesis change requirements then they will have to submit by the following semester deadline.

The Committee must consist of at least five current  members of professorial rank with at least one of the five from outside the major department, this is usually the minor professor if you are pursuing the external minor. At least two members must be Laboratory of Genetics faculty, and three members must be trainers. With permission of the candidate, other faculty members might be invited to participate in the examination.

After the exam, you must submit to the Graduate School a completed and approved library copy of your thesis and appropriate additional documents, and pay the required fee for microfilming and binding the thesis. With the appropriate receipts, you then submit your thesis to Memorial Library.

** Be aware of warrant submission deadlines (see information on the Graduate School website).  Schedule your defense at least 1-2 weeks before the submission deadline, in case the committee has required changes to the written document.  Any requirements of the thesis committee will be enforced, which may require later submission of the final warrant (with funding implications for your mentor).

In addition, you must notify the Payroll and Benefits Specialist of your resignation.

Other Information

Changing Major Professor

You are not committed irreversibly to a particular laboratory or professor; in fact, changes from one professor to another are not uncommon. Intradepartmental and interdepartmental changes are negotiated by the student and the professors involved. If you are sponsored by the training grant, you can be maintained on that grant if the new professor is also a participating faculty member. If you are supported by your first professor’s research grant (as a research assistant), you must be sure that the new professor can arrange support for you.

It is also possible to change departments, as long as you meet the admission requirements of the department you are seeking to enter. Once the professors involved agree to the change, it must be approved by the Admissions Committee of your new department and the appropriate form must be filed with the Admissions Office of the Graduate School. Once departmental approval is granted, the change can become effective immediately.

If you are considering a change of professors, and you would like advice, you should contact the Program Director or the Graduate Program Manager.

Masters Degree

Research students in Genetics normally earn a Ph.D. degree. We do not accept students for graduate study in Genetics if they plan to stop at the M.S. level. However, a Master’s degree in Genetics is automatically granted when you pass the Ph.D. preliminary examination provided that the course requirements for a Master’s degree have been satisfied. You must obtain both the Master’s and Prelim warrants from the Graduate Program Manager prior to taking the Prelim exam.


Genetics graduate students serve on the following departmental committees: Admissions, Steering, Summer Colloquium, Retreat and Diversity. Committee participation is a great way to be involved within the department.

Graduate Student Committee

Each year the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 5th and above classes will nominate a student to represent them on the Graduate Student Committee. This committee organizes scientific and social events among students, collates resources for professional development, and serves as a liaison group to represent students to the program.

The Mission of the Graduate Student Committee

We envision the graduate student committee to be an active force for community involvement and communication between the students and the program. As part of this vision, we aim to foster inclusivity and student excellence.

We aim to fulfill a commitment to providing:

  • A resource bank linked in each correspondence email.
  • Grad student chalk-talks to promote engagement, participation, sharing and support.
  • Autumn and spring socials to foster community and inclusivity.
  • Town hall meetings yearly to promote discussion and community direction on the activities of the committee and the broader graduate student community.

Through these activities in our mission we hope to promote a student community that is vibrant, diverse, productive, and committed.

UW-Madison Genetics Graduate Student Body Vision Statement

In this statement, the UW-Madison Genetics Graduate Program student body hopes to convey our vision, mission, and values for the graduate program and the graduate student community.

Our Community Vision

As a graduate student body and community, we aspire to be a vibrant, diverse, productive community committed to engagement, inclusivity, and quality science.

We hope to embody through our actions the values we hold; of diversity, inclusivity, community, rigor, innovation, creativity, engagement, participation, outreach, communication, clarity, education, growth, and support.

We commit to pursuing this vision: to engage in the community and strive to self-betterment, career preparation, and social awareness, through the resources and peers of the UW Genetics program; to promote this vision by engaging and supporting the committee mission.

Yearly Events

Graduate Program Picnic- Each Fall the program hosts a picnic for the graduate students and mentors, this is an opportunity to introduce the new class and to mark the beginning of the next academic year.

Colloquium – Every Wednesday at 3:30 during Fall, Spring, and Summer terms Genetics hosts a colloquium presentation. Fall and Spring are invited speakers. Summer Colloquium is presented by 3rd and 4th year (and older) students.

Graduate Program Retreat – Each Fall Genetics hosts an annual retreat for graduate students and mentors to promote interaction between members of the genetics community on campus.

New Student Recruitment- Every January potential new Genetics PhD students are invited to meet with faculty, meet with current students, and to learn about research happening within Genetics through our Virtual Interview Programs. Each February or March, admitted students are invited to visit campus for three days and participate in our Admitted Student Event.  This allows admitted students to see Madison and to meet faculty and students in person.  Current student participation is vital in this recruitment and selection process. Current students will be asked to participate in both Virtual Interview Programs and Admitted Student Events.

University Compliance Training

You will be required to take a series of online courses  designed to inform and prepare you for work in campus biological research laboratories in compliance with standards set forth by the NIH and CDC.  Information is available at:

You will also be required to take an in person chemical safety class. This courses teaches you how to work safely in the laboratory with hazardous materials in accordance with the OSHA Lab Standard. It is available for registration through UW-Madison’s OHRD site:

Funding and Fellowships

Professional Development and Employment Opportunities


Graduate School Career Development Programming 

Discover PD:

DiscoverPD helps UW-Madison graduate students advance their academic and professional goals.

Graduate School Networking Page

WARF Ambassador program:

WARF Ambassadors receive training in WARF’s technology transfer process and learn how to access resources offered by WARF and other campus organizations designed to support technology development and entrepreneurial activity. They spend five to 10 hours per month promoting awareness of WARF’s role across campus and WARF’s engagement with campus research through departmental seminars, informal contacts and more.

Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp:

The Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (MEB) is a one-week intensive training program in technology entrepreneurship for graduate students in the sciences, engineering, and math. MEB is co-sponsored by the Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship (INSITE) and the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship.

Courses on teaching through the Delta program:

Examples include Teaching in Science and Engineering, Effective Teaching with Technology, and others.

Mentored Research Training through the Delta program:  

The Delta Program (through an NIH grant with ICTR) offers a 1-credit course on Research Mentor Training

Outreach and training opportunities through WiSCIENCE:

Programs and resources to provide training and activities to educators.

PEOPLE Program:

The Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence is designed for low-income and potential first-generation students.  These students have traditionally been overlooked and underserved by college admissions and their journey in PEOPLE prepares them to be a viable college candidate, apply for admission to, and enroll at the University of Wisconsin System institution, with an emphasis on UW-Madison.  Genetics students can get involved with this program as tutors, mentors, and educators.

Summer Research Opportunity Program:

This program pairs faculty mentors and graduate students with undergraduate students in a chosen field of study.  Undergraduates acquire valuable experience in graduate labs and conduct their own research that they present at the end of the program.  Graduate students involved in the program act as guides and gain mentoring experience. The SROP goal is to create a diverse academic environment by increasing the number of traditionally underrepresented students in UW–Madison graduate programs and ultimately the professoriate.

Individualized Development Plan

Science Career IDP Template

Principals of Supervision and Management:

11 half-day or 5 1/2 full day workshops. These are foundation workshops intended primarily for new managers and supervisors.

A full library of self-study software (Adobe, Office, lots more)

DoIT Student Technology Training

In person trainings (LaTeX, Excel, Python, Adobe)

Doctoral minor in entrepreneurship

Certificate in strategic innovation


UW-Madison Post-doc positions

Post- doc jobs

Science Jobs

Travel Awards

Stone Travel Award

Genetics students are eligible to apply for the Stone Travel Award for funding to attend conferences or meetings in which they are giving an oral or written presentation. The Stone Travel Award is made possible by Professor Emeritus, Bill Stone. To apply send the following to the Graduate Program Manager:

Name of Genetics Graduate Student
Title of meeting
Location of the meeting
Dates of meeting
Estimated total cost of travel
Brief statement from faculty mentor supporting the nomination and indicating whether the student would attend the meeting without an award.

Training Grant Travel Funds

Genetics students may be eligible for a small amount of travel money while on the training grant. Please contact the Graduate Program Manager for details.


Schlimgen Award

The Schlimgen Award is bestowed to graduate students annually to recognize exceptional performance within the Genetics program or to acknowledge invaluable service to the program.  The award was established in remembrance of Katie Schlimgen (PhD 1991) by her family.  During her time in the Genetics program, Katie is described as having been fiercely determined and exceptionally innovative while demonstrating an intense commitment to excellence.  Her work in Professor Emeritus Dr. Barry Ganetzky’s lab was both complex and influential and she had high expectations for the output of the lab. Her influence is credited with raising the level of productivity and quality of the lab as a whole.

It is with these characteristics in mind that the Schlimgen award is bestowed every year.

Recent Schlimgen Award Recipients:

2012: Hongda Li & Kirk Burkhart

2013: Scott Gratz

2014: Richard Wang

2015: Daniel Woods

2016: Celeste Eno

2017: CJ Yang

2018: Nur Zafirah Zaidan & Brandon Pfannenstiel

2019: Marc Chevrette & Quinn Langdon

2020: Michael Kartje & Kirsten Gotting

Mental Health Resources

Graduate school can be a stressful time and we understand that students often need extra support. Please see below for a few resources.

University Health Services (UHS) offers a safe and confidential environment with a variety of support services available free of charge and open to all graduate students.

Specific groups are available for graduate students.  Additional groups are available for graduate address relationships, depression, anxiety, and other topics.  Groups typically meet one to two hours weekly, and may run from four to 12 weeks per semester.

Genetics Grievance Policy

If a student feels unfairly treated by their faculty mentor, another faculty, staff, or another student, the Genetics Program supports the following strategies to address the issue.  Note that if students do not feel comfortable going to the suggested parties they should feel free to talk to others higher in command at no risk of repercussion in the program.

If the grievance relates to curricular outcomes (e.g. preliminary exam outcome, grading):

  • The student should first petition the relevant individuals, e.g. course instructor or Thesis Committee Chair, while notifying the Graduate Program Manager of the grievance. Unresolved issues will be submitted to the Genetics Program Steering Committee for vote within 1 month of the submitted grievance, where majority vote rules.

If the grievance involves another student, staff, or faculty other than the faculty mentor:

  • The grievance should be first brought to the attention of the student’s faculty mentor. The mentor will work with the student in a timely manner to resolve the situation.  If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution, the student should then contact the Graduate Program Manager and then, if still unresolved, the Genetics Program Director.  The Graduate Program Manager and Director will work to find an appropriate resolution and to provide the student with additional campus resources available to them.

If the grievance involves the faculty mentor:

  • The student should go directly to the  Graduate Program Manager or the Genetics Program Director, who may gather additional information and then work to find an appropriate resolution. Action may engage the student thesis committee, the trainer’s departmental chair, or the Genetics Program Steering Committee.  The Director will act as the liaison between the student and the faculty mentor.  If the program is unable to resolve the issue, the student will be guided through other campus resources available to them, including the Dean of Students Office , UW-Madison Ombuds Office , The Graduate School, or other means.

Program Contacts

Many people in Genetics are available and willing to help as you navigate graduate school, curriculum and other requirements, mentor and peer relationships, and other aspects of your time here.

Graduate Program Manager, Martha Reck, 

Program Director, Nicole Perna,

Program News

Please submit any feedback you would like to share about the Genetics Program. Submissions are automatically sent to the Graduate Program Manager and the Graduate Program Director. Feedback can be given anonymously.