Each graduate student assembles their own advisory committee to match their interests and aspirations. The advisory committee is generally comprised of the major advisor plus two other faculty members within the EEB/EEES program at Dartmouth College. The advisory committee works closely with students to facilitate and guide all aspects of the graduate program. The advisory committee is not fixed and is frequently altered to match the direction of student programs.
Each student, in consultation with his/her advisory committee, develops a research proposal of their planned doctoral research. This is the intellectual core of a Ph.D. in the EEB program, and much of our academic environment is devoted to developing skills in conceiving tractable research projects that will generate important new knowledge about nature. The written proposal generally follows the guidelines for National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (including Summary, Introduction, Significance, Research Plan, Feasibility, Schedule, and Bibliography). The objective is to develop an efficient, theoretically compelling, logically cohesive and logistically feasible line of research. Proposals are presented orally to the EEB community (usually at an EELunch, usually in the latter part of the 2nd year), and defended in a meeting with the advisory committee. Normally proposals are submitted to funding sources (e.g., NSF, EPA, etc.), and frequently they are funded.
Ph.D.'s are granted based upon the successful completion of a significant body of original research that contributes to general knowledge within ecology and evolutionary biology. Throughout the program, student progress is facilitated by regular meetings with the advisory committee, individual meetings with faculty, modest coursework, and copious, less structured interactions with colleagues at all levels. When the student and the committee agree that the thesis is near completion, the student schedules a public defense of the dissertation to be followed by a meeting with the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee includes an internationally respected scholar from outside of Dartmouth College. Typically, graduate students will have already published a part of their thesis research in peer-reviewed journals at the time of their defense (student publications). Graduate programs are expected to be completed within five years.
The main focus of graduate students in the EEB program is planning, conducting, and publishing important original research. Consequently, requirements for formal coursework are minimal (only 8 courses during the entire program), and each student develops their own curriculum in consultation with their advisory committee to compliment their research program and match their long term professional interests. The curriculum is dynamic to match evolving interests within the program. Some current courses.
Graduate students, faculty, and post-docs meet weekly during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters in an informal forum that has a variable structure but is typically devoted to presentations of research that is being planned or is in progress. As presenters, we cultivate our skills in communicating complex ideas, in making our research relevant to a diverse audience, and in soliciting critical feedback on "half-baked" ideas. As participants, we learn about the research questions and study systems of our colleagues, and develop our skills in asking questions, critiquing science, and promoting intellectual growth within our group. EELunch schedule
There is a departmental seminar each Friday afternoon during the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Topics cover the breadth of contemporary biology. Seminar speakers are productive and creative scientists from around the world that are selected to bring expertise and insights that are of special interest to the department. EEB graduate students are actively involved in choosing and hosting the visiting scholars, usually with an eye towards developing long term collegial relations with established scientists who have similar interests. Normally, visits last for a couple of days and there are generous opportunities for graduate students to meet formally and informally with guests. Immediately following the seminars, there are beverages, snacks, and informal interactions (TGIF) with the guest and among members of the extended department. Cramer Seminar Series.
Chris Reed Lecture
In honor of Dr. Christopher Reed, a distinguished Dartmouth professor, the Graduate Students of Biological Sciences annually select and invite a distinguished scholar who exemplifies the ideals of scholarship and mentoring to which Dr. Reed was so committed. Guests give a public lecture designed to be of broad interest to graduate students, and normally stay in Hanover for two or three days as our guest to visit the area and interact with Dartmouth graduate students. Chris Reed scholars have included: William Provine, Bruce Levin, Pierre Beguin, David Wake, Naomi Cappuccino, James Crow, Peter and Rosemary Grant, and Richard Lewontin.
Graduate Student Journal Club
Typically, much of the professional growth of EEB graduate students arises through informal discussions and presentations among graduate students. For example, there is a "Journal club" run by the EEB graduate students for EEB graduate students. Faculty involvement is by invitation only. Details are available from EEB graduate students.
There is an annual retreat, normally early in the Fall term. The venue varies but is someplace other than where we normally work (e.g., Ravine Lodge at Mt. Moosilauke) and often includes an overnight stay. The program content varies, but often includes loosely structured discussions of current issues and controversies in ecology and evolution. Besides promoting our scholarly development in the short term, objectives include having fun, getting to know new people in the program, and fostering continuing collegial interactions among the group. The venue, structure, and topics are determined by a rotating committee of graduate students (and sometimes faculty).
Many of our alumni go on to professional positions that include teaching. Consequently, the EEB graduate program includes training and experience in education. Students typically collaborate with faculty as Teaching Assistants (TAs) in one class during one or two academic quarters per year. Faculty work individually with their graduate student TAs to cultivate their professional development as educators. Many graduate students meet part of their teaching requirements by participating as Teaching Assistants in the Biology Foreign Studies Program, which involves full immersion ecological research within the stunning natural systems of Costa Rica and the Caribbean.
Advancement to candidacy in the EEB Ph.D. programs involves passing a qualifying examination. The exam includes written and oral components that test knowledge and problem solving skills in the broad domain of ecology and evolution. The examining committee includes an internationally respected scholar from outside Dartmouth College who is chosen by the student in consultation with their committee. The opportunity to engage the expertise of these outside examiners is consistently cited by our alumni as a key to their professional development during and after the Dartmouth graduate program. The qualifying exam is normally taken at the end of the second or early in the third year of graduate study.
Detailed guidelines for EEB graduate program
Some other links related to the EEB graduate program