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Graduate Student Groups

Having an active Graduate Student Group provides many benefits for units across campus, and in many cases a single activity or group provides multiple benefits. These are some of the goals accomplished in collaboration with student groups:

 

Create a Collaborative Environment
Organize Seminars/Forums for Student Presentations and Bring Researchers to Campus
Create Opportunities to get Students Presenting Research
Monitor and Evaluate Programs
Help Incoming Students get Acclimated
Allow Students to Gain Hands-on Experience in Professional Activities
Get Students More Involved in the Program
Use Graduate Student Groups to Assist in Recruiting 

 

Create a Collaborative Environment

Comparative Biosciences: The department graduate student body formed a graduate student group called the Research Trainee Group of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of the RTG-CVM is to form and maintain a link between the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and the faculty members within the College of Veterinary Medicine.  One of the goals of the group is to promote social activities to help integrate students and faculty within the college. They do this by arranging social events in addition to the monthly lunch, such as a departmental ice skate to get to know the faculty and department staff better. 

 

Geology: One activity that works out particularly well is the Annual Research Reviews for graduate students. This is organized entirely by students. Faculty are invited to judge on posters. The forum is effective in motivating students and increasing student/faculty interactions.  

 

Plant Biology: Our graduate student group also serves as the organizational wellspring and conduit through which valuable new initiatives are born in the department. A few years ago, it was our graduate students who proposed, established and continue to coordinate our bi-weekly in-house colloquium (+ happy hour) series. No initiative in recent memory has brought the department together the way the Colloquium has.  

 

Organize Seminars/Forums for Student Presentations and Bring Researchers to Campus

Aerospace Engineering: Our graduate student's advisory committee organizes seminars, and every other week students present. 

 

Comparative Biosciences: The department graduate student body formed a graduate student group called the Research Trainee Group of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of the RTG-CVM is to form and maintain a link between the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and the faculty members within the College of Veterinary Medicine. One of the goals of the group is to become more involved within each department of the college, including organizing seminars. This year, if funding is still present, they will be hosting and organizing the visit of an invited Fields lecture speaker of their choosing.

 

Geology: One activity that worked out particularly well is the Annual Research Reviews for graduate students. This is organized entirely by students. Faculty are invited to judge on posters created by students.  

 

Linguistics: Among the best practices of the doctoral program in Linguistics is the expectation that graduate students will participate in the full range of activities that define the intellectual life of the department. Graduate students are considered as junior colleagues and collaborators by the faculty. Graduate students organize the departmental guest lecture series, and have launched the Illinois Language & Linguistics Society, which hosts a student-run national conference that involves external peer-review of submitted abstracts. These activities provide valuable experience with the dissemination of research. 

 

Molecular and Integrative Physiology: For our regular weekly research seminar series, a graduate student committee selects, invites, and hosts an outstanding external researcher twice each year. The students enjoy this responsibility and it gives them important experience in evaluating and interacting with the leading researchers in our field.  

 

Molecular and Integrative Physiology: Another student activity is the planning and execution of our annual departmental retreat. The retreat includes an outside keynote speaker chosen by the students (our distinguished alumni awardee in alternate years), talks and posters by students and faculty, and meals. 

  

Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Our program also contributes to the Graduates in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (GEEB), a registered student organization that coordinates graduate students interested in ecology and evolutionary biology. GEEB runs a weekly in-house seminar series (EcoLunch) for graduate students, postdocs and faculty. In addition, each February GEEB coordinates a day-long seminar, during which current students give 15 minute presentations. Presentations are evaluated by faculty judges, and several awards are given.  

 

Urban & Regional Planning: Our Doctoral Students of Urban Planning (DSUP) organization formed just a few years ago, but they have quickly become a vital component of the doctoral program and of the department. They self-organize their weekly seminar and invite faculty to present at those seminars on various issues. Through DSUP, the doctoral students have been empowered to take control of their education and they have done so with professionalism and enthusiasm. 

 

Monitor and Evaluate Programs

Agricultural and Consumer Economics: Significantly, the Graduate Student Organization also assists the department in monitoring and evaluation of our programs. We have 2 graduate students on our Graduate Programs Committee (GPC) and on our Courses and Curriculum committee. One is from the MS program and one is from the PhD program. They are picked by the grad student organization and approved by the department head.  In some respects, our program policies are under continuous review.  The students communicate concerns to their reps on the committees, and those reps have no hesitation to raise them in GPC.  In the last 4 years, the student reps initiated discussions that led to the change in the name of the program, introducing a new course in our PhD core requirements (replacing a course we used to have them take in another department), adding a tutorial to complement a class that they are required to take in another department, and requiring a class that had been optional. 

Summaries of student performances that mask identities are discussed annually in the GPC.  Students have been involved in identifying factors contributing to slow progress to degree and in suggesting interventions to address problems.  These interventions have related to reporting procedures and advising procedures among other things.  We are currently updating our annual reporting mechanisms, and grad student input through the GPC is influencing the timing and content of the new review process.

 

Comparative Biosciences: The department graduate student body formed a graduate student group called the Research Trainee Group of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of the RTG-CVM is to form and maintain a link between the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and the faculty members within the College of Veterinary Medicine. One of the goals of the group is to suggest ways to improve the graduate programs offered by the college. To do this the group has representation at the faculty meetings which keeps the group involved in policy changes or departmental issues and also allows students to bring their suggestions directly to the faculty. Last year their participation led to a better (clearer) explanation of expectations listed in our Graduate Handbook.

 

Plant Biology: Our graduate student group has alerted us to aspects of our Two-Year Review and Prelim formats that we could update to give our students a practical exercise in grantsmanship. An initiative is in the works to revamp these milestones so that our students will be able to submit fellowship applications for graduate study and dissertation improvement in a guided and timely manner.  

 

Urban & Regional Planning: The Doctoral Students of Urban Planning (DSUP) organization formed just a few years ago, but they have quickly become a vital component of the doctoral program and of the department.  DSUP meets regularly with the director of the doctoral program to identify and solve program issues, while also bringing up issues of concern in the faculty meetings directly. Through DSUP, the doctoral students have been empowered to take control of their education and they have done so with professionalism and enthusiasm.  

 

Help Incoming Students get Acclimated

Agricultural and Consumer Economics: One practice that we have found very valuable is close interaction with and empowerment of our graduate student organization (GSO). It organizes and provides “Buddies” for incoming students, a system which has assisted a great deal prior to their arrival and in orientation throughout the first year.   

  

 Allow Students to Gain Hands-on Experience in Professional Activities 

Linguistics: Graduate students play a primary role in editing the departmental working papers, the Illinois Working Papers in Linguistics (formerly Studies in the Linguistic Sciences). These activities enrich professional training for graduate students. 

 

Comparative Biosciences: The department graduate student body formed a graduate student group called the Research Trainee Group of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of the RTG-CVM is to form and maintain a link between the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and the faculty members within the College of Veterinary Medicine. One of the goals of the group is to prepare them for success in their careers. One objective we have it that of letting them experience what it is like to work as a group and arrive at a consensus as a group, which is good training for those endless meetings once they are in a faculty position or working in a company. For example, last year they developed their structure and written bylaws.

 

Get Students More Involved in the Program

Agricultural and Consumer Economics: The GSO is responsible for allocating some travel funds for students as well as assigning student space.  

 

Plant Biology: We listen to and respect the opinions of our graduate students. Their Plant Biology Association of Graduate Students (PBAGS) plays an active and integral role in department functions that we believe is rare but invaluable among graduate training programs. A member of PBAGS sits on our Graduate Affairs Committee and acts as the Committee’s liaison with PBAGS. Visiting students see from the beginning how the student community of which they may become a part is fully engaged in the business of the department and that we respect them as collaborators not only in the enterprise of research but also of department affairs.