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All BB graduate students must take the first year graduate seminar series (one class credit per term, classes on Monday, seminars on Wednesday), and they are expected to attend a Journal Club series (usually Friday) organized by the more senior graduate students, in which the second year students present interesting new papers for discussion by the whole department.
The formal seminar series in combination with the student section of this class presents an opportunity for graduate students to learn the mechanics of how to give short research talks (i.e. for rotation talks at the end of each of the first-year quarters) and how to present their research to an audience. Other than doing excellent bench, computational or theoretical work, the ability to communicate is the most important skill to learn during graduate training. This includes written AND oral communication. In other words, you may be doing Nobel Prize-worthy research, but if you cannot communicate this to the world at large, nobody will know. The seminar series helps graduate students to learn from the example of others, usually top-notch scientists, and it will hone their presentation skills in a friendly atmosphere. At local, regional, national or international meetings or conferences, graduate students will have the opportunity to present their work to a more critical group.
During the first week of the fall quarter, many of the department faculty members give 30-minute presentations of their research program to incoming students (“BB Fall Symposium”). These presentations are generally very useful to help determine rotation labs for new students. Graduate students should also analyze the style and method used by faculty members to present their own work (i.e., they should note which techniques work and which do not).
All first-year graduate students in the department (regardless of the program, i.e. BB, MCB, or BPP) give 15-minute presentations on their rotation project after each quarter (“Rotation Talks”). These talks are usually scheduled for the Friday of the last week of Fall, Winter and Spring term and the whole Department is in attendance.