Extramural funding proposals
Advisory Committee (AC)
Thesis committee (TC)
Qualifying exam committee (QEC)
6. Ecology graduate group activities
Cramer Seminar Series
Chris Reed Memorial Lecture
Foreign Studies Program
Informal discussion and reading groups
7. Teaching assistant responsibilities
8. Stipend and research funding
9. Professional Meetings
10. Conflict Resolution
The Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB)
is one of the two graduate programs in the Department of Biological Sciences
(the other being the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, MCB). Students
are accepted for the PhD degree only; there is no Master’s program. EEB homepage.
One of the two critical steps for an
EEB graduate student to advance to Ph.D. candidacy is for the student to
develop and successfully defend a written proposal of their anticipated
dissertation. To complete this requirement, a student must give a public
presentation of their proposed research (generally at EELunch), followed by a
private meeting with the thesis committee. The student should provide a
reasonably well argued defense of the future thesis project. It is expected
that the actual dissertation will evolve as the student progresses. The
proposal should follow the guidelines for the National Science Foundation,
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants, and be submitted to the student’s
committee at least one week prior to presentation, but some committees may
require a longer period. The committee should be comprised of three
In general, the proposal presented to the EEB program should follow the guidelines set forth for National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants. The proposal should:
• Include Summary, Introduction, Significance, Research Plan, Feasibility, Schedule (including specific papers that are projected to result), and Bibliography.
• Be no longer than 8 pages (single spaced, 11-12 pt font, including figures and tables, excluding summary and bibliography).
• Develop a theoretically compelling, logically cohesive and logistically feasible line of research that would constitute a dissertation if completed.
This is an evaluation of students’
overall competence in ecology and evolution, both within and outside of their
specific research area, with both written and oral components. The qualifying
exam committee responds with a written evaluation, indicating one of the
following: pass, pass with remedial work, or fail. The committee will summarize
their comments, suggestions and requirements for remedial/additional work.
Students who fail may be allowed to retake the exam once. A pass is required to
continue with the program. See Rules
for the Qualifying Exam. See Some sample focal areas and questions for written qualifying
Candidates present a public presentation of research, followed by a private meeting with the thesis committee. The final revision of the dissertation must be submitted to committee members a minimum of one week prior to the defense; committees may require a longer period. Students must arrange scheduling of the defense with the committee prior to making any final arrangements with outside examiners. The thesis committee will indicate one of the following: dissertation approved, approved with minor revision, requiring major revisions, or fail. If major revisions are required, the committee will provide a summary of the main comments and requirements, and a schedule for revisions and completion of the degree.
format of the thesis should be planned in consultation with the Thesis
Committee. The thesis is normally written in the form of manuscripts, which may
be published, accepted for publication, submitted or in draft. Early
publication of part of the thesis work (prior to thesis completion) is strongly
recommended; indeed, having papers that are published or in press before the
thesis defense is necessary to be competitive for the best post-doctoral
opportunities. Students should be certain that their theses conform to
Formal coursework is a modest component of the EEB graduate program but plays a key role in helping students gain a solid foundation in ecology and evolutionary biology writ large and a mastery of areas related to his/her field of specialty. Ecology and evolutionary biology are vast and fast growing fields, so the coursework is designed to provide the background and skills for a lifetime of continuing self-directed learning. By itself, coursework cannot provide the depth and breadth of knowledge successful graduate students will need. The EEB program requires a core curriculum of four courses: Foundations of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology I and II (Biol 133-134) and Statistics and Experimental Design I and II (Biol 128-129). A schedule for completing this core curriculum should be approved by the Advisory Committee. The courses should be completed as soon as possible after matriculation. Students may either take these courses or demonstrate proficiency in the relevant subject areas; exceptions to the core curriculum are possible with the written approval of the Advisory Committee.
Additional coursework electives will be determined through consultation among the student, advisor, and student’s Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee makes the final decision on what is required for each student to complete the EEB course requirement. Students should be sure that all decisions on coursework are explicitly recorded in the letters that summarize committee meetings. EELunch (Biol 266), Supervised Teaching (Biol 169), or Graduate Research (Biol 197-199, 297-299) do not count as course electives. The options for graduate course electives are diverse, dynamic, and driven by the interests of current students. Students find many attractive options for coursework electives during a Ph.D. program and are encouraged to choose judiciously. There is no need to complete electives early in the program. Course offerings are not intended to serve as sufficient preparation for comprehensive exams. We encourage all students to be proactive in considering what kinds of courses would be most beneficial and lobbying their advisors and appropriate faculty to make them happen.
To identify appropriate elective courses, talk to your advisor, committee members, colleagues, and other faculty. See the online listing of upcoming graduate courses. You can also explore the registrar's web page (link) but note that graduate offerings change; they are frequently one-time offerings, so the registrar's web page greatly under-represents current options. There may be suitable electives with course numbers less than 100, e.g., the Biology Foreign Studies Program (FSP). Seek out short courses and opportunities at field stations appropriate to your field, such as the Fundamentals of Ecosystem Ecology at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies. Finally, we encourage all students to organize their own graduate seminar courses after they have advanced to candidacy (see Bio 151).
Funding to participate in a course at another institution may be available from the Biology Department (Cramer Fund and/or Jenks Prize). To apply, obtain the support of your Advisory Committee and provide the following to the EEB Graduate Committee (for an award from the Cramer Fund, up to $1000) and/or to the Biology Department Chair (for a Jenks Prize, up to $2000 by itself or $1000 in combination with Cramer award): (1) a description of the course, (2) your costs to participate in the course, (3) a current CV, and (4) a brief description of where you are in your PhD work and how this course will help you. Immediately after the course, successful applicants will provide a brief written description of the experience that highlights the professional benefits (and if possible provide a group photo of the participants).
With approval of the Advisory committee, transfer credit can be given for up to three graduate level courses taken elsewhere (excluding those taken while an undergraduate student). Application for transfer credit.
Students should receive at least a pass (P or HP) in all coursework to maintain satisfactory standing in the graduate program. One low pass or no credit (LP or NC) places a student on academic probation and triggers a meeting of the advisory or thesis committee to prescribe appropriate remedies; in this case, the probationary status and remedial prescription should be explicitly described in a letter for the student's file that is signed by the committee and student. A second low pass or no credit will normally result in termination of the graduate program (at the discretion of the advisory or thesis committee).
All members of the EEB graduate program participate in a weekly Research Colloquium, EELunch. Graduate students should register for this each term as 1 credit of Biol 266. Each student is expected to make a presentation in this colloquium at least once per year.
During academic terms that include responsibilities as a Teaching Assistant (TA), students should register for 1 credit of Supervised Teaching in Biology, Biol 169.
During each term (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer), all graduate students should be enrolled for a total of 3 credits. This can include 1-3 credits for Graduate Research (Biol 197, 198, and 199 correspond to 1, 2, or 3 research credits for students who have not yet passed their qualifying exam; Biol 297, 298, 299 correspond to 1, 2, or 3 research credits for students who have advanced to candidacy).
Students who are TAs for Biology FSP should enroll for one credit of supervised teaching (Bio 169), one credit of graduate research (Bio 197 or 297) and one credit for any one of the three Bio FSP courses (presently Bio 55, 56, or 57). Courses with numbers less than 100 (e.g., FSP courses) might not be accessible via online registration; in this case, contact the administrative assistant at Graduate Studies by email and they can register you.
The scheduling of each student’s program is arranged with the appropriate committee. Each student should arrange a meeting of their advisory committee (established by the Graduate Committee) during the first two weeks of their first term and again in spring of their first year. Subsequent to that, individual schedules may differ (e.g., the order of the proposal defense and qualifying exam is at the discretion of the Advisory or Thesis committee), but the following guidelines are recommended:
Meet with Advisory Committee: Early in 1st term of Year 1; again spring of Year 1
Establish Thesis Committee: Fall of Year 2.
Submit and defend Research Proposal: Spring of Year 2
Qualifying Exam: Spring of Year 2 or Fall of Year 3.
Advancement to candidacy requires successful completion of both the proposal defense and the qualifying exam. Failure to advance to candidacy by the end of the ninth quarter in residence (typically the end of fall quarter in year 3) will result in termination of the program unless there is (1) unanimous support for an extension from all departmental members of the Qualifying Exam Committee, and (2) an explicit, realistic schedule for completing all remaining requirements of the graduate program.
Dissertation submission and defense: by end of fifth year.
Completion of all degree requirements: by end of fifth year.
No financial support is guaranteed beyond the fifth year. The
policy of the EEB graduate program is to discourage extensions beyond five
The proposal presented to the EEB program should be one of
numerous proposals that are developed and submitted during the graduate
program. Graduate students at all stages should be aggressive in identifying
funding sources and submitting proposals. Virtually all professional positions
after the Ph.D. depend upon successful grantsmanship. Demonstrated success in
securing grants is key to getting a good job. Strive to develop a Curriculum
Vitae that includes a section titled “Grants received”. Note that the
professional benefits of being awarded a grant exceed the dollars received. Consider
writing proposals even for a few hundred dollars. Some funding opportunities
for EEB students are listed here,
but there are many other small, local, or specialized opportunities.
The Graduate Committee is the
administrative committee covering both graduate programs in the Department of
Biological Sciences. It is concerned with matters affecting the Department as a
whole and is generally not involved in research planning or scheduling of
courses, exams, for individuals etc. You will meet with members of this
committee each fall to check on the status of your requirements and to make
sure that your personal file is up-to-date (template
for annual update).
New graduate students should select an advisory committee early in their first term in the program. Be sure to talk your advisor right away about setting up this committee.
Composition of AC
The AC consists of 3 members, the advisor plus two other Biology faculty. Up to two members of the AC may be adjunct Biology faculty (e.g. a student whose advisor is in Environmental Studies might have two adjunct committee members). As the student's research plans develop, changes in the AC may be appropriate. This can be arranged by discussion with the advisor, the original advisory committee, and the proposed new member(s). These changes should be described in a letter to the Graduate Committee, signed by current AC members, indicating the changes and when they take effect.
Purpose of AC
The AC works with the student to identify specific academic needs, to oversee general progress and to plan a schedule for the qualifying exam and thesis proposal. The AC will generally form the nucleus of the qualifying exam and thesis committees (see below).
Student responsibilities with AC
Schedule meetings with AC, provide summaries of academic progress and plans, as appropriate, for these meetings. Students draft memos to the Graduate Committee describing the points raised/decisions taken at these meetings. Students must submit a letter (including student and AC members’ signatures) describing each formal AC meeting.
Responsibilities of AC
information provided by student, and recommend individual course plans and
schedule. Advisors review/revise, with the student, all letters covering AC
meetings. Drafts of these letters are circulated to AC members and the student
for comment and signatures, before filing with the Graduate Committee.
Composition of TC
The TC consists of 4 members, usually the AC plus one external (non-Dartmouth) examiner. The TC replaces, and assumes the duties of the AC.
Purpose of TC
To oversee development of thesis proposal, thesis progress and thesis preparation.
Student responsibilities with TC
Schedule meetings with TC to evaluate progress, at least at yearly intervals; respond to committee recommendations for changes in thesis plans, either by modifications or justifications satisfactory to the committee; write and defend thesis on schedule. Students must submit a letter (including student and TC members’ signatures) describing all formal TC meetings.
Responsibilities of TC
thesis proposal and progress. Communicate constructive suggestions clearly to
student. Require proper follow-up so that changes are implemented. Provide oral
or written comments to student following proposal presentation and thesis
Composition of QEC
The QEC consists of 5 members, usually including the AC and at least one external (non-Dartmouth) examiner.
Purpose of QEC
The QEC examines the student in the oral qualifying exam (Appendix 2).
Student responsibilities with QEC
Prepare for and schedule qualifying exam according to qualifying exam guidelines; discuss specific requirements for qualifying exam with members of QEC. Become familiar with guidelines for preparation for the qualifying exam. Meet with members of QEC to define the scope and depth of the exam in each subject area. Students must submit a letter (including student’s and QEC members’ signatures) describing the outcome of the Qualifying exam.
Responsibilities of QEC
student of individual requirements for qualifying exam that are not covered in
general guidelines, provide written evaluation of qualifying exam; meet with
student after exam to discuss performance and recommendations. Evaluate
performance in the exam.
Cramer Seminar Series , usually Fridays at 4
pm in Gilman 101, are generally given by speakers from other institutions. See Cramer seminar online schedule. Cramer seminar background & philosophy. Graduate
students are expected to attend. Ecology and evolution graduate students are
encouraged to invite seminar speakers. A priority of the Cramer Seminar
Series is to facilitate visits by leading scholars from around the world to
participate in the qualifying examinations and thesis defenses of graduate
students. However, scheduling is first-come, first-serve so graduate
students should plan far enough ahead (several months at least) to make sure a
seminar slot is available for their guests. Besides attending the
seminars, graduate students are strongly encouraged to meet with all ecology
and evolution visitors (an excellent opportunity to solicit feedback on your
research). The host (faculty or graduate student) has responsibility for
scheduling individual and group meetings for visitors. Information for hosts of Cramer Seminar speakers.
The Chris Reed Memorial Lecture is in honor of Dr. Christopher G.
Reed, a distinguished professor at
EElunch (Ecology & Evolution Lunch) is a weekly “in-house”
seminar, and is the usual format for presentation of research proposals and
research results (other than the thesis defense). The content and format of
EElunch may vary from term to term (see online
schedule). Attendance at and participation in EElunch is expected
for all students throughout their time in the program. Students should register
for EElunch as Biol 266, Graduate Research Colloquium in Biological Sciences.
Journal Club is run by the EEB graduate
students for EEB graduate students. Faculty involvement is by invitation
only. Details are available from EEB graduate students.
EE Retreat is held annually, early in the Fall term. The venue varies
but is always someplace other than Gilman Hall (e.g., Ravine Lodge at
Foreign Studies Program in Biology (BioFSP) is
offered each winter term. The program consists mostly of field research
projects conducted by undergraduates and directed by faculty and graduate
students. We spend about six weeks at various sites in
Informal discussion and reading
groups are regularly formed by faculty and students.. Typically,
some of the most valuable feedback on thesis research and other ideas are the
result of informal discussions and presentations organized by graduate
students. There are no rules. Talk to faculty, postd-docs, and/or other
graduate students for suggestions about how to implement work groups that will
be fun and productive. We strongly encourage all students to organize one or
more work groups during their time in the program.
All graduate students have
responsibilities as teaching assistants (TAs). Students supported by
Support may be from externally funded
Students are encouraged to seize
every opportunity to attend professional meetings, small and large, at all
stages of their program. Benefits of attending meetings include: motivating a
flurry of professional productivity while you prepare for your talk or poster;
gaining critical feedback on your research from an audience that can include
those who will reviewer your papers; learning about the current state of
research in the area to which your dissertation should contribute; learning
about current research in diverse fields, some of which will be unexpectedly
relevant to your research; meeting interesting people with similar interests -
including prospective post-doctoral mentors and future colleagues; developing a
favorable professional reputation that can beget beneficial opportunities such
as reviewing papers, giving invited seminars, getting a job, etc.; being
stimulated to go back to your research with a fresh perspective and renewed
enthusiasm. Talk to your peers and advisors to learn about the various meeting
that could be appropriate. Begin planning for them many months ahead of time so
that they are maximally beneficial. Cooperate with your colleagues in
preparation - e.g., by giving practice talks to each other. Your discretionary
Cramer funds are one source of funding to attend meetings. Funding is
also sometimes available from the Office of Graduate Studies (link). Talk to your advisor and be creative in finding ways
to make meetings affordable.
The committee-based system for guiding graduate programs in EEB, while primarily designed to ensure effective mentoring, is also intended to guard against inequitable treatment. In the event that conflicts arise, we recommend the following stepwise process for resolution. In general, conflicts are best resolved within the graduate student committee. However, when resolution within the graduate committee or EEB program is not feasible or successful, the Graduate Office is the next place to turn. The EEB program guarantees access to an established process by which student grievances will be investigated fully and fairly, treated confidentially and decisions rendered in a timely manner.
1. When possible, speak
directly to the person who bears responsibility for the complaint or who is the
alleged cause of the complaint.
2. Speak to the graduate advisor and/or members of the thesis or advisory committee.
3. Speak to the Chair of the EEB graduate program and/or the Chair of the Department.
4. If a satisfactory resolution can not be reached within the department or program, the aggrieved student may request a meeting with the Dean of Graduate Studies to discuss the issue.
5. If the Dean, working together with the aggrieved student and appropriate faculty member(s), or representatives of the EEB program is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution, the student can request in writing a formal hearing and ruling by the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Committee on Student Grievances. Formal hearings are conducted as described in the Graduate Handbook (see sections titled “Committee on Student Grievances” and “Formal Hearing” under Academic and Conduct Regulations).
Please note that allegations of scientific misconduct,
violations of the academic honor principle, and certain issues of professional
and personal conduct (sexual harassment, discrimination, and others described
in the graduate handbook under code of conduct – non-academic regulations) must
be reported to and handled by the Graduate Office.