Integrating Research and Careers on the Phenotype

A National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT)



Program Curriculum Diagram


Professional Skills

This two-semester course provides first-year graduate students in the life sciences with basic professional skills to begin their scientific careers. This includes personal skills such as time management and career planning, and skills for communicating in science including giving and evaluating oral presentations, research posters and small grant writing. The ethics training provides an opportunity to discuss case studies and has been designed to meet the NIH requirements for training in the responsible conduct of research. Emphasis will be placed on developing a scientific community that recognizes and values diversity.


Core: Phenotype

A one semester Integrative Core introduces the power of integrative approaches to problems in life sciences. The first part of the semester will introduce case studies that exemplify interdisciplinary dissection of the phenotype. The second part will be a practicum in which students work together to develop project proposals that combine interdisciplinary approaches related to their own research interests.  

In addition, short experiential workshops will be offered at regular intervals that bring students into labs across the EXPAND group to learn specific skills and approaches to life sciences research. These are non-credit, optional (but encouraged) experiences.

Career Design/Exploration

For early-stage graduate students, EXPAND will offer a one-semester seminar in which students examine their personal and professional goals, interests, values, and talents. In particular, how their strengths in integrative and interdisciplinary approaches to the phenotype prepares them for a broad array of career options, Invited speakers will be drawn from the extensive network of employers who offer life science-specific opportunities for PhD graduates. 

Career Reflections/Next Steps

This course is geared toward advanced students, including those who have completed an internship. In this course students will reflect on their experiences and develop the mindset and tools to conceptualize career ‘prototypes’ unique to their individual goals. 

Professional Transitions

A guided peer-support seminar for students nearing the end of their degree will facilitate completion and transition to the next career stage. The specific goals will be developed to meet the needs of current students, but will include a writing support group, development of plans and skills for securing a post-graduate position, and regular check-ins to reinforce time-management skills and reasonable self-expectations. This seminar will help Trainees acquire the necessary skills and develop realistic plans for finishing their dissertations and developing the materials required to market themselves, e.g. website, resume, cover letter, research description, teaching portfolio, summary of professional experience.