Welcome! We are glad that you are interested in our Doctoral Program. The Program is designed to educate students in the art and science of biomedical research, and to give him/her the experience and training needed to become an independent scientist. We offer state-of-the-art training in microbiology, immunology, virology, molecular biology, cancer research, pathogenesis of infectious diseases, and related disciplines. Students that graduate from our Program receive excellent preparation for a future in biomedical research and have gone on to successful careers (learn more about our former students).
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
LSU Health Shreveport
1501 Kings Highway
P.O. Box 33932
Shreveport, LA 71103
Phone: (318) 675-5750
Dr. Martin J. Sapp
Bridget E. Powell
Dr. Jason Bodily
Diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other microbial organisms cause widespread suffering throughout the world and in our own communities. At the same time, microbiologists are making breathtaking progress in understanding and combatting infectious pathogens through innovative molecular, biochemical, and computational technologies.
The doctoral program in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology provides an environment for the student to learn how to think; to ask questions and to answer them in the laboratory and library; to write and communicate; and to develop into a mature, articulate, and competent biomedical scientist.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is the highest degree offered by the University. It is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student demonstrates outstanding original scholarship. The Doctoral Program in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is designed to train the student in the art and science of biomedical research, and to give him/her the experience necessary to become an independent scientist.
Link to Former students from the Department have an outstanding record of achievement in their subsequent careers, including in academic faculty positions, research and management in biotech and pharmaceutical industries, science writing, forensics, regulatory agencies, and government laboratories.
The purpose of training in the Graduate Program of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is to learn how to ask scientific questions and what to do to answer them. For that reason, the program heavily emphasizes laboratory research.
Several features of our Program provide exceptional training compared to other national programs:
- Our faculty are internationally recognized and conduct research published in high impact journals.
- A high faculty to student ratio (approaching 1:1) results in a supportive and individualized training environment.
- Coursework is completed in the first year so students can focus early on research.
- No teaching assistantships or other work responsibilities are required for financial support, allowing 100% effort for research.
- Students develop teaching skills in many settings, including in formal seminars and in less formal journal clubs and data meetings (virology, bacteriology). Additionally, workshops on teaching and seminar preparation are a standard part of the curriculum.
- All students gain experience in written scientific communication by writing grants and proposals.
- Students host and interact with Distinguished Lecturers and all visiting seminar speakers.
- The Department and the School of Medicine offer state-of-the art core facilities and instrumentation, including two BSL3 laboratories. The LSU Health Shreveport Medical Library provides instant access to over 4000 online scientific journals.
- The Department hosts an NIH-supported Center for Molecular and Tumor Virology to foster excellence in virology research.
- Students are supported by nationally competitive stipends. Tuition is waived for all full time graduate students in good standing.
- Quality of life in Shreveport is high, but cost of living is low. There are many interesting things to see and do in the area. Click here for more information.
- Outline of the PhD Program
- Formal Program Learning Objectives
- Coursework for the Doctoral Degree
- Journal Club
- Qualifying and Preliminary Examinations
- Research Proposal
- Research Dissertation
- Other Scholarly Activities
- Regulations & Policies
- Tuition & Stipends
The purpose of training in the Graduate Program of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is to learn how to ask scientific questions and what to do to answer them. For that reason, the program heavily emphasizes laboratory research.
To provide a foundation of knowledge, formal coursework is concentrated in the first year, including General Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Immunology, Virology, Bacteriology, Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases, Genetics, Molecular Methods, and Biochemistry. During the first year of graduate study, the student becomes acquainted with the research activities of each faculty member by attending faculty seminars and by rotating through research laboratories selected by the student. Students may select research areas from a variety of disciplines in Molecular Biology, Virology, Immunology, and Bacteriology. Topics currently being investigated are listed here.
An individualized program of study is developed for each graduate student through regular consultation with a faculty Advisory Committee. This program consists of lecture and laboratory courses, seminars, journal clubs, preparation of research proposals, and independent research.
Formal Learning Objectives of the PhD Program
- The students will demonstrate a mastery of biochemistry and cell biology because an understanding of these subjects is necessary to understand microbiology and immunology.
- The students will demonstrate a mastery of virology, bacteriology, and pathogenesis of infectious diseases (all of which are components of microbiology) and of immunology.
- The students will demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and theoretical understanding of methods and techniques required for research in Microbiology and Immunology.
- The students will demonstrate acquisition of practical skills in methods and techniques required for research in microbiology and immunology: they will apply techniques learned in class, and additional techniques learned in the laboratory, during three six-week rotations in the laboratories of faculty in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Rotations are done in the first semester of the first year.
- The students will develop oral communication skills necessary to effectively present scientific information, and critical thinking skills necessary to respond to questions. This includes an approximately annual presentation at a Journal Club suited to the student`s area of research. The department has Journal Clubs in Virology, Bacteriology, and Immunology, which are attended by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students. A Journal Club presentation is less formal than a seminar. The presenter chooses one or two published papers and describes the methods, results, conclusions, and significance, and these are discussed and debated by the audience, including the students. Journal Clubs meet weekly or biweekly throughout the year.
- The students will develop oral communication skills necessary to effectively present scientific information, and critical thinking skills necessary to respond to questions. This will continue with an annual presentation by the student, from their second year onwards, of a formal seminar on their research plans and results. Seminars are attended by all faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the department.
- The students will demonstrate the ability to obtain and communicate (orally and in writing) original data that contribute knowledge to the disciplines of microbiology or immunology, and to network with other scientists. This will be achieved by presentation of research results at a regional, national, or international scientific meeting of researchers in the fields of microbiology or immunology. The students will respond effectively to verbal questions from other investigators, and meet key investigators in their research area.
- The students will apply a thorough understanding of theoretical and practical aspects of microbiology and immunology, together with critical thinking skills, to develop an original hypothesis to fill a gap in our understanding of microbiology or immunology. They will combine this with basic concepts of experimental design to write an NIH-style research proposal to test the hypothesis. The research problem will be unrelated to the student`s area of research, and only students who have completed all coursework and are judged to be making progress in their own research project will be eligible to write the proposal. The written part of the proposal is the Qualifying Exam. An oral defense of the proposal is the Preliminary Exam.
- The students will demonstrate the ability to combine their knowledge of the literature of their own area of research, their critical thinking skills, their research results obtained thus far, and the experience gained from the Qualifying and Preliminary Exams, to write an NIH-style grant on their own area of research. This is referred to as the Research Proposal. Only students who have passed the Qualifying and Preliminary Exams, and continued to make progress in their laboratory research, are eligible to write their Research Proposal. It will contain hypotheses developed by the student, the experimental approaches to be used in addressing the hypotheses (with pitfalls and alternative approaches), and discussion of potential outcomes and data analysis. It will be defended in a rigorous oral exam conducted by the student`s advisory committee and an Outside Reviewer (from another institution) chosen for their expertise in the field.
- Students will be familiar with ethical standards in reporting, reviewing, and conducting research. This will be accomplished by completion of a formal course on the Philosophy and Ethics of Science (IDSP 240) in the first year.
- Students will learn and demonstrate appropriate professional conduct. They will observe the student honor code, which is discussed with them during orientation.
- Applying the skills in methods and techniques learned in the first-year courses and lab rotations, and extending these as needed, the students will learn to conduct independent, original research on a project developed by the student.
- After obtaining their Ph.D., former students should be in positions that use their technical knowledge and the thinking and writing skills acquired during their Ph.D. studies. This includes positions in academia, industry, and government (e.g. CDC).
Although the emphasis of the doctoral training program is research, every student is expected to have a firm understanding of current concepts, experimental approaches, and recent developments in the fields of microbiology, cell and molecular biology, and molecular genetics. To obtain this foundation, the student is required to complete a core curriculum of graduate courses and to supplement this core with other courses recommended by his/her Advisor and the Advisory Committee.
REQUIRED COURSEWORK FOR THE PhD DEGREE
A. FORMAL CORE COURSES:
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (3 cr.)
Methods in Biomedical Sciences: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1 cr.)
Methods in Biomedical Sciences: Recombinant DNA (1 cr.)
Cells and Signaling (3 cr.)
Immunology (2 cr.)
Bacteriology and Molecular Pathogenesis (2 cr.)
General and Molecular Virology (2 cr.)
Molecular Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (2 cr.)
Genetics (1 cr.) – optional
Gene Expression (1 cr.) – optional
Basic Biostatistics (1 cr.) – optional
Advanced Biostatistics (1 cr.) – optional
B. JOURNAL CLUB COURSES:
The student must be enrolled and/or participate fully in one credit of a Journal Club course every semester. These courses are graded as S/U and include:
Discussions in Advanced Virology (1 cr.) Meets weekly
Discussions in Bacteriology (1 cr.) Meets weekly
Periodically, other Journal Club courses may be offered. These courses are graded as S/U and include:
Discussions in Advanced Immunology (0.5 cr.) Meets fortnightly
Discussions in Cancer Biology (0.5 cr.) Meets fortnightly
C. RESEARCH AND SEMINAR COURSES:
Minimal requirement is presentation of two library-type seminars, one each in the first and second years, and a yearly research seminar, one per year starting in the Spring semester of the second year.
Seminar (1 cr.; S or U)
Dissertation Research (1 to 9 cr.; S or U)
MICROBIOLOGY #298 - Seminar (1 cr.; S or U)
Importance of a Seminar Program: Seminar is the one occasion in which all faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students meet weekly and discuss research findings and new developments in the disciplines of Microbiology and Immunology. It is an important component of a training program for the predoctoral and postdoctoral student and is a special opportunity for the graduate student to demonstrate his/her abilities as a teacher and biomedical scientist, to learn to present and discuss experimental data and to think on his/her feet. A good seminar program in which all researchers in the department participate can be an enjoyable activity that fosters unity and mutual respect among the participants and provides an atmosphere that promotes research and collaboration.
Policy Statement for Graduate Students: Every graduate student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is required to present seminars of two types:
A) Library Seminars: Minimum of two required for the doctoral student: In a library seminar, the student discusses the current status of an area of research and then presents the findings from one or two recent papers and demonstrates how these recent data further our understanding of the topic. The student is expected to give a lucid background of the topic, to explain the experimental approaches and research findings of the papers selected for presentation, and to evaluate whether the new data contribute to our understanding of the problem.
Every doctoral student must present at least two library seminars, one in the Spring semester of the first year and one in the Fall semester of the second year. After the second library seminar, the faculty will decide whether the two library seminars were of a quality sufficient to excuse the student from presenting additional library seminars. Only students who present high quality seminars will be excused from the requirement of presenting additional library seminars.
The topic of the library seminars should not be directly related to the student's research in order to allow developments in other areas of microbiology, molecular biology, etc. to be brought to the attention of the faculty and students and to encourage the student to be knowledgeable in several areas of microbiology and related sciences.
B) Research Report Seminars - One per year, starting in the second year: The student must present at least one seminar each year, starting in the Spring semester of the second year, on his/her research. The first research seminar consists of a statement of the problem, a presentation of data collected to date, and plans for future experiments.
Additional Requirements for Seminar: The topic for presentation and the date of the seminar must be approved by the faculty member in charge of the seminar (Seminar Coordinator). To have a topic approved for a library seminar, the student must submit to the seminar coordinator the topic and references of at least two key papers that will be presented at the seminar. Students who fail to have topics approved by the deadline will be assigned topics by the Faculty Seminar Coordinator.
Ten days prior to the seminar, the student must distribute a one page typed Abstract to all faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students. The Abstract should give the topic, date, time, faculty sponsor, and room location of the seminar, and list the key paper or papers that will be presented. The Abstract should be written in a style and manner that will create interest in the seminar and encourage people from other departments to attend.
It is the responsibility of the student to type the Abstract, to proofread the Abstract, and to arrange for copies to be made. Since copies of the Abstract will be mailed to all departments at LSUHSC-S and to other persons on the Departmental mailing list, the Abstract must be given to the office staff at least ten days in advance of the seminar.
Format of the Seminar: A library seminar should be a presentation of research data from one or several selected papers and should be presented in a critical and informative manner so that an audience of peers can appreciate the scientific value of the research. The student is expected to read a considerable body of literature in a critical manner so that he/she has a good understanding of the field, the techniques, and the experimental approaches being used to address the key questions. The seminar, however, is not a lecture or an overview. It is a highly focused presentation of the experimental data and rationale used to further our knowledge about a specific question.
Ideally, the seminar is 45 to 50 minutes in length and starts with an informative introduction of 10 to 15 minutes to present the questions being asked and to provide background information for the audience. The body of the seminar concerns data presentation and explanation of the experimental rationale and the approach being employed to answer the questions being asked. During the seminar, especially in the concluding remarks section, the student is expected to explain how the paper(s) presented fit(s) into the field of study and to discuss the perceived limitations, strong points, and inconsistencies of the papers.
The student is expected to practice his/her seminar presentation and to prepare audio-visual aids to enhance the exchange of information. Power Point slides should be prepared with care, but the student should not hesitate to use the blackboard to explain a concept or illustrate a point. The seminar should never be read to the audience. The student is encouraged to practice the seminar and to have a senior student or his/her Advisor attend a practice presentation.
It is the student's responsibility to make certain that the projector and other audio-visual equipment required for the seminar are in good working order. The student should check the equipment, make certain that the blackboard is clean and chalk is available, and assure that the room is ready for the audience.
Journal Club Participation
One of the most profitable and enjoyable aspects of the doctoral training program is the student's participation in one or more Journal Clubs. Although the format varies among the Journal Clubs, each involves a meeting of the faculty, fellows, and students working in areas of mutual interest to discuss recent developments, findings, and techniques that relate to their research interests. Each member of the Journal Club is expected to take an equal number of turns in presenting recent papers and in leading a discussion on how the work presented impact(s) the field. Journal Club presentations are usually informal and promote active and often lively discussion and exchange of ideas.
Every graduate student must be a regular member of at least one Journal Club throughout his/her enrollment. Students are encouraged to participate concurrently in several Journal Clubs and to attend meetings of other Journal Clubs when a topic of interest is to be presented. The Journal clubs available to students are:
*MICROBIOLOGY #292: Discussions in Advanced Virology (1 cr.)
*MICROBIOLOGY #293: Discussions in Advanced Immunology (1 cr.)
*MICROBIOLOGY #295: Discussions in Advanced Bacteriology (1 cr.)
MICROBIOLOGY #298: Seminar (1 cr.; S or U)
MICROBIOLOGY #400: Dissertation Research (1 to 9 cr.; S or U)
Selection of a Major Professor by the New Student: The emphasis of the doctoral program is research, and time available for research will increase each year. New students will be introduced to ongoing research projects during the first two weeks upon entering the Program. After these meetings, each new student will select three faculty members for laboratory rotation. These rotations will allow the student to gain first-hand knowledge of the research in these selected laboratories and serve as a basis to choose his/her Advisor.
The selection of the Advisor will be made after the student completes the laboratory rotations by mid-December of the first year and provides the Department Head with a letter in which his/her choices for the faculty Advisor are listed. Every effort will be made to place the student in the laboratory of his/her choice provided the faculty member is agreeable and space and funds are available to support the student's research.
Faculty members who accept the responsibilities of having graduate students enter their laboratory and serving as the student's Advisor are expected to make every effort to obtain financial support for the student. Faculty members directing research grants will be expected to provide support for students working on the funded project. This support should be at least equal to the present level of Graduate Student Stipends provided by the Dean and cannot exceed the maximum stipend level set by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the Department Head. Tuition is waived for students supported by research grant funds, stipends, or assistantships.
The student is expected to devote a considerable amount of time to research at the bench and in the library even though course work is in progress. A key part of developing into a biomedical scientist is for the student to learn how to partition his/her time so that progress can be made in research while courses are in progress.
Formation of the Advisory Committee: The Advisory Committee is established early in the Spring semester of the first year. The Advisory Committee should be faculty members who have expertise in areas of research that may relate to the student's area of experimentation. The major functions of the Advisory Committee are to provide advice and support regarding the student's research and to help monitor the development of the student into a productive, careful, and competent investigator. The Advisory Committee also helps the Advisor evaluate the student's progress in his/her research and advises the student of the elective coursework best suited to his/her needs.
The Advisory Committee must be comprised of at least five faculty members who are eligible to serve according to the rules of the Graduate School. One member is the Advisor, three other members must be on the Department Graduate Faculty, and one member must be from outside the Department, usually from the minor area such as Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The composition of all Advisory Committees will be discussed and reviewed by the Department Head and the student's Advisor before establishing the Advisory Committee. Before inviting the individual faculty to serve on the Advisory Committee, the Advisor must complete the form "Request To Establish Advisory Committee" and have the Department Head approve the Committee.
Meeting of the Advisory Committee: The Advisory Committee is expected to meet periodically, at least once per year, and as needed. The Committee will meet at the following times: a) in the Spring semester of the first year to review the student's planned research and progress in coursework, b) after the first Research Seminar presented in the Spring of the second year, c) for the selection of the topic of the Preliminary Examination, d) for the Qualifying and Preliminary Examinations, e) for review of the Personal Research Proposal, f) at least once each in the third and fourth years to review the student's progress, and g) for the doctoral Dissertation Examination. After each meeting, a brief report of the Advisory Committee's recommendations must be prepared in writing by the student's advisor and provided to the student, the members of the Advisory Committee, and to the Department Head and placed in the student's file. The progress of each student will be discussed by the entire faculty at Departmental faculty meetings.
Qualifying and Preliminary Examinations
The Qualifying Examination and Preliminary Examination are intended to assure that the doctoral student who has successfully completed coursework requirements has the ability to identify specific questions that remain unanswered in a research area of microbiology and to develop a written research proposal that describes experimental approaches to answer these questions. Thus, the first part of this double requirement process is the Qualifying Exam that requires that the student write a Research Proposal in NIH application format. In this document, the student proposes a series of experiments that will address three Specific Aims related to a clearly stated hypothesis. The topic of research must be identified and developed solely by the student and approved by his/her Advisory Committee. The proposal for the Qualifying Examination must be on a topic that is substantially different from the student's dissertation research and the research interests of the student's Advisor.
Timing : The Qualifying Examination must be initiated by February 14th of Year #2 at the absolute latest. In the case of students who feel that they have gained research experience sufficient to allow them to prepare a research proposal, the Qualifying Exam may be initiated earlier, such as in the fall of Year #2.
Choice of Topic For The Qualifying Examination: During the period of October to February of Year #2, the student and the Advisor will discuss the feasibility of proposing two/three topics of interest for writing the Qualifying Examination. The proposal is to be written in NIH Research Application format. For each topic, a two-page description of the Significance and Background (one page) and three Specific Aims (one page) should be delivered to the members of the Advisory Committee several days prior to the Advisory Committee meeting. At this meeting, the student will give a short, informal presentation on each topic. The Advisory Committee will decide which topic should be addressed in the Qualifying Examination proposal.
Preparation of the Qualifying Examination Proposal: The student will have a maximum of six (6) weeks to research and prepare a written document in NIH Research Application format on the approved topic. During this interval, the student will not seek any additional help or advice from anyone. It is the student's responsibility to prepare and type the Qualifying Examination proposal. Strict adherence to the NIH R-01 Grant Application format (PHS 398), especially page limitations, should be observed. The Qualifying Examination proposal should be designed as a three-year grant application.
The Experimental Design and Methods section is the "heart" of the proposal and should lucidly explain the hypotheses to be addressed, rationale for the experimentation, experimental approaches, likely data to be obtained, data interpretation, alternate approaches, and potential pitfalls. This section of the proposal is not a "cookbook" of methods. It is important that the proposal be properly written with respect to content, grammar, style, and the specifications of the NIH Application guidelines.
Meeting of the Advisory Committee for Decision on the Qualifying Examination and the Preliminary Examination: The Preliminary Examination is expected to be held within two weeks after the student submits the Qualifying Examination proposal. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with members of his/her Advisory Committee and to schedule the Preliminary Examination at a time agreeable to all. At this meeting, the Advisory Committee should discuss and decide by vote whether the Qualifying Examination proposal was of sufficient quality for approval and that the student has passed the Qualifying Examination. If the majority of the Advisory Committee decides that the proposal was of such poor quality that the student has failed the Qualifying Examination, then several options may be recommended by the Advisory Committee. These recommendations include (but are not limited to): partial or total rewrite of the proposal; choice of another topic and probationary period; recommendation for dismissal from the Ph. D. program. A recommendation of dismissal will be presented to the Department Head and the entire full-time Graduate Faculty of the Department, who will be responsible for determining the final status of the student.
The Preliminary Examination: If the Advisory Committee decides that the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, the Preliminary Examination will begin. The Preliminary Examination consists of an oral defence of the written Qualifying Examination proposal and questions on any of a variety of topics posed by members of his/her Advisory Committee. Although this Preliminary Examination will focus on the proposal, the student is expected to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of background information and to be capable of applying basic information from his/her coursework and reading of the literature to answer questions on a variety of topics. The student and Advisor should note that an official form must be completed TWO WEEKS in advance of the Preliminary Examination and submitted to the Office of the Graduate School.
Recommendation of the Advisory Committee: After the Preliminary Examination, the Advisory Committee must decide whether the student has satisfactorily completed the Preliminary Examination. The recommendations available to the Committee include: Pass; Remediation; or Fail.
*If the Advisory Committee votes that the student has passed the Preliminary Examination, then the student should begin to address the requirement of the Personal Research Proposal.
*If the Advisory Committee deems the oral presentation inadequate, then the Advisory Committee may recommend measures for remediation. The nature of the remediation will be determined by the Advisory Committee.
*Immediately after the Preliminary Examination, the Faculty Advisor must complete and submit to the Department Head the form "Report of the Preliminary Examination". The Department Head will submit this Report to the Dean. After approval by the Dean, copies of the Report will be distributed to members of the Advisory Committee, to the student, and placed in the student's file.
Doctoral Candidacy: When the student has been judged to pass the Preliminary Examination, the Advisor and members of the Advisory Committee shall recommend that the student be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
An official form must be signed by all members of the Advisory Committee and the Department Head, and submitted to the Office of the Graduate School.
Personal Research Proposal: A major component involved in the quality control of research and of a training program designed to teach students about the real world of academic research is the preparation, presentation, and peer review of a research proposal describing the student's project. This proposal is written in NIH Grant Application format by the student and includes Background information from the literature, Specific Aims, Rationale, Preliminary Data, and Methods to be used to answer the questions being asked. The purpose of the research proposal is for the student to define his/her doctoral research project, which will be the subject of the doctoral dissertation. The choice of the topic should result from experiments conducted by the student during his/her first two years and from discussions with the student's Advisor and Advisory Committee. The Research Proposal must be submitted to the student's Advisory Committee and Outside Reviewer two weeks in advance of the visit of his/her Outside Reviewer.
The research proposal should be written clearly and concisely. The student should realize that the Experimental Design/Methods section is not a "cookbook" of protocols, but describes the hypothesis to be addressed, experiments to test the hypothesis, the approaches to be taken and the rationale for each approach, an explanation of how the findings obtained will answer the specific aims being addressed, a statement of the pitfalls and limitations of the approaches, and a discussion of alternative experiments to answer the questions being asked.
If, at the discretion of the student's Advisor, a comprehensive literature review that would exceed the 2- to 3-page Background/Significance limitation is required, the review should be included as an Appendix. This review will not substitute for the Background/Significance section of the proposal.
The student's Advisor has the responsibility to guide the student toward a project that upon completion will merit the awarding of the doctoral degree.
Time Frame: The student must begin the preparation of the written proposal as soon as possible after completing the Preliminary Examination and becoming a Candidate for the doctoral degree.
Role of Advisory Committee: Since this proposal represents a research plan for the student's dissertation research project, the major role of the student's Advisory Committee is to offer suggestions and comments on the proposed research, to insure the propriety of the project, and to make certain that the student is prepared to undertake the doctoral research.
The Advisory Committee will be assisted by an Outside Reviewer who has expertise in the field of the proposed research. The choice of the Outside Reviewer will be the responsibility of the Advisor, but the selection must be approved by the Advisory Committee and Department Head.
The presence of the Outside Reviewer enhances the quality of the review process and reinforces for the benefit of the student and the faculty that the student's research is state of the art, scientifically valid, and truly worthy of the doctoral degree. It should be emphasized that inclusion of the Outside Reviewer is intended to be a positive feature of this review process. Often, the Outside Reviewer may make excellent suggestions to improve the student's research project, inform the student of important, but unpublished, findings relevant to his/her research, and help the student secure a postdoctoral position in a leading laboratory.
Presentation of Proposal as a Public Seminar: The student will present the proposal at a public seminar. After the seminar, the student will meet with his/her Advisory Committee and the Outside Reviewer to discuss the proposal.
Recommendation of the Advisory Committee: The Committee may decide: 1) to approve the proposal as written; 2) to require modification(s) of the proposal in a manner consistent with good science; 3) to require the student to make significant changes. If significant changes are required, the Committee may elect to have the proposal rewritten and returned to the Committee and Outside Reviewer for approval.
The proposal will be approved as written (and modified) if there is no more than one negative vote. Approval of the research proposal by the Advisory Committee assures the student that the Committee feels that satisfactory completion of this project by the student should constitute an acceptable dissertation research project. The Research Proposal is to be prepared during the late part of the second year or in the early part of the third year. The student is then expected to devote his/her time to the doctoral research project. The progress of his/her research is monitored on a daily basis by the Advisor and by the periodic meetings of the Advisory Committee.
The dissertation research must be an original contribution to the field that address a fundamental question. It is expected that the major substance of the study will be published in a reputable journal and that the student will present his/her research findings at local, regional, national or international meetings of scientific societies in the student's field.
Preparation and Defense of the Doctoral Dissertation: The dissertation is prepared by the student with the guidance of his/her Advisor and Advisory Committee. Upon completion of the dissertation, the student should provide copies of the dissertation to all members of his/her Advisory Committee and one copy to the Department Head for placement in the Department Library. After an appropriate period of approximately 7 days (during which the student should be available to provide information or clarifications requested by his/her committee members), the student's Advisor will contact each member of the Advisory Committee and determine whether the member feels the dissertation is completed to a degree that will allow scheduling of the Dissertation Defense and Final Examination. If two or more members of the Advisory Committee feel the dissertation is incomplete and/or of a quality unsuitable to schedule the Defense, the Committee will meet and make specific recommendations necessary to improve the dissertation prior to scheduling the Dissertation Defense and Final Examination.
In order to schedule the Dissertation Defense and Final Examination, the student's Advisor must complete the form "Request For Dissertation/Thesis Defense and Final Examination" and submit this form and a copy of the Dissertation Abstract to the Department Head who will review the information, sign the form and submit the documents to the Dean. The approved form and Dissertation Abstract must be received by the Dean two weeks prior to the date of the Defense and Final Examination.
The Dissertation Defense and Final Examination will focus on the dissertation research and the dissertation itself. The student is expected to answer questions about the work, defend the validity of the conclusions, discuss suggestions for revisions to improve clarity, etc. At the discretion of the Advisory Committee, the Defense and Final Examination may include questions from the major or minor fields in general, but this is not the usual situation.
Other Scholarly Activities
In addition to requirements concerning Research, Coursework, and Seminar, every graduate student is expected to participate in other scholarly activities. These activities vary from individual to individual, but students are expected to develop good reading habits so that they can keep abreast of major developments in their field and in related biomedical sciences, to present their research findings at meetings of professional societies in their field, to show leadership and maturity by assisting other graduate students and staff in research techniques and the use and maintenance of instrumentation, to help in the recruitment of graduate students into the program, to assist in teaching if invited, and to take an active role in maintaining the research environment of the Department and the University.
It is expected that every doctoral candidate will publish at least one first-author paper on the findings from his/her dissertation research in a national/international journal. Students are expected to attend all guest seminars and guest lectures in graduate courses by Visiting Faculty.
Teaching is an important aspect of the doctoral training program, and all students are required to participate in teaching. This may take the form of presenting information in a journal club format, participating in the training of new students or Research Associates in laboratory procedures, etc.
Department Regulations & Policies
The regulations and minimal requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are described in the Catalog/Bulletin of LSU Health Shreveport. In addition, administrative procedures pertaining to registration, preliminary examination, final examination/dissertation defense, grading, and student travel for students at LSU Health Shreveport are described in the folder "Policies and Procedures" prepared by the Assistant Dean, School of Graduate Studies, LSU Health Shreveport. The student should be aware of these policies and procedures as well as the fact that specific forms must be completed to document the student's academic progress.
The student should appreciate that the Catalog/Bulletin describes minimal requirements for the doctoral degree and that additional and more stringent requirements are imposed by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. This document describes these requirements and regulations.
A minimum of three full years is required for completion of the doctoral degree. In most cases, especially for students who enter the doctoral program without prior graduate level experience and training, a period of four to five years is usually needed for completion of the doctoral degree.
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology does not admit students directly into a masters graduate program. A student in the Ph.D. Program may petition the Department Head and the Faculty for approval to transfer from the departmental Ph.D. program to the M.S. program. Approval is unlikely to be granted except in very special circumstances. A student in the M.S. program is not eligible for stipend support from the Department and will not receive a tuition waiver or any Departmental funds.
Part Time Students
The policy of the Department is that no part-time students will be allowed to enroll in the program. Students are expected to devote all their attention and energy to their research and to fulfilling the requirements for the graduate degree. Therefore, it is expected that students will not seek outside jobs and/or part-time employment. With the permission of the Departmental Head, approval of the faculty, and consent of the Dean, a student may be allowed to take a leave of absence from the program; in this case, leave time will not apply to the residence requirement.
Policy on Academic Performance
First Year Students: The major goals of the first year are for the student to complete successfully all required core courses offered during the year, to develop communication skills by participating in the departmental journal clubs and seminar program, to gain research experience during the rotations in faculty laboratories in the Spring semester, to select a Faculty Advisor and initiate the doctoral research project, and to establish an Advisory Committee during the first summer. The first two semesters of the first year are considered a probationary period. The achievements and academic record of each first year student are carefully reviewed by the department graduate faculty in the early summer. Only students who are in good academic standing, who are demonstrating significant progress toward the doctoral degree, and who are meeting the expectations for a student working toward the highest academic degree will be invited to remain in the doctoral program with the status of "good academic standing and non-probation". A student who fails to meet any of these criteria may be dismissed from the doctoral program or be placed on probationary status, by a decision of the faculty.
Academic Performance: All students are expected to remain in good academic standing, to make progress toward their degree, and to follow the recommendations of their Faculty Advisor and Advisory Committee. Students must maintain an overall Grade Point Average of B in all coursework. In the case of a student whose grade point average is below a B (3.0 on the 4.0 scale), the faculty may decide to dismiss the student from the doctoral program or to place the student on academic probation. A student who is given a grade of D or F in any one of the Core Courses is subject to dismissal. A student who is given a grade of C in more than 6 credits of the Core Courses is subject to dismissal.
A Student who is placed on academic probation may be given one academic year at most to achieve an overall B average. In some cases, the period of academic probation may be less that one year, as decided by the faculty. A student who fails to restore his/her overall Grade Point Average by the end of the academic probation period set by the faculty will be dismissed from the doctoral program. Students who are in good academic standing and who are demonstrating significant progress toward the doctoral degree will receive the highest priority for stipend support and waiver of tuition fees. A student who is on academic probation is not guaranteed stipend support from the Department or the Dean and is not guaranteed waiver of tuition fees.
The student should realize that coursework is not the only measure of academic performance at the graduate level. A student who fails to make progress in meeting other requirements such as acceptable performance on the Qualifying or Preliminary Examination, preparation of a high quality Personal Research Proposal, and/or fails to demonstrate a proper work ethic and full commitment to his/her career may be placed on academic probation. In these circumstances, the student will be notified in writing of his/her deficiencies and may be dropped from the program if the recommendations of the Advisory Committee and/or Departmental Head are not met in a timely manner.
Graduate students are expected to adhere to the spirit and regulations of the Student Honor Code of this Health Sciences Center. A student who cheats on an examination, fabricates experimental findings, and/or misrepresents scientific data is subject to dismissal according to the procedures of the Student Honor Code. Graduate students are expected to meet the high standards expected of biomedical scientists in all aspects of their research, including the humane treatment of laboratory animals, the careful and proper use of isotopes and chemicals, and the vigilant handling and disposal of infectious agents and recombinant DNA molecules.
First year graduate students will be expected to enroll in the course Philosophical and Ethical Issues in Science (MCB #240) in the summer of the first year. This course is taken as Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory and is not included in the calculation of the grade point average (GPA).
Attitude & Responsibility
Graduate students are expected to behave in a mature and responsible manner and to exhibit a spirit of cooperation with the faculty, their fellow students, and all members of the Department. Students should take an active part in fostering the development of the Department and its graduate program and in promoting the research environment of the University. This participation should be at all levels--from helping to maintain research equipment and facilities, to assisting in the recruitment of new graduate students, to helping fellow students in learning new techniques, etc. The student should realize that his/her professionalism as a developing scientist enhances the reputation of the Department and our Health Sciences Center and that the proper environment for productive research is attained by collaborative efforts of all members of the Department, especially its students.
Tuition Waiver & Stipends
All full-time graduate students in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at LSU Health Shreveport receive financial support in the form of a Research Stipend starting at $26,000 plus tuition and waiver. Graduate students that receive stipends and financial are expected to remain in good academic standing, to make constant progress toward their degree, and to follow the recommendations of their Advisory Committee and major professor. Financial support may be withdrawn from students who fail to meet these basic requirements. Because financial support is designed to allow students to devote all of their energy, time, and talents to their research and graduate training, it is expected that these students will not seek outside jobs and/or part-time employment.
All students are responsible for the payment of the University Activity Fee and must purchase Health Insurance or provide evidence of other health care coverage. Students are also responsible for other incidental fees such as costs of thesis and dissertation binding, microfilming and diploma costs, and other expenditures that are not covered by a tuition waiver.
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