Trainer Responsibilities and Involvement

MBTG Faculty at the 2013 MBTG Retreat


An important goal of the MBTG program is to direct trainees to those laboratories where they will receive the best possible training in preparation for a successful career. Towards this end, we invest a great deal of effort into identifying the top labs on campus for training in cellular, biochemical, and microbiological sciences. The process begins with a detailed application form, which is completed by faculty who wish to join the program, as well as by all existing trainers during the trainer review process that occurs once every 5 years. At least three faculty members and one student member of the Steering Committee read each application. Based on this information, the Steering Committee evaluates each trainer for the following criteria:

   a) a good match between the trainer's research interests and the MBTG program's scientific focus

It is important for the MBTG program to maintain an identity distinct from that of other training programs on campus. In particular, it is important that the focus be on basic science and that the emphasis be on molecular rather than purely genetic or organismal studies. This programmatic focus forms the basis of a common language between the trainers and the trainees and promotes an atmosphere of community and synergistic interactions.

   b) a strong training record

The training history of faculty beyond the level of Assistant Professor is examined to ensure that students joining the lab earn their PhDs in a timely manner and that they are successful in securing high quality positions after leaving the lab.

   c) active, ongoing extramural funding

Extramural funding is important both to ensure that students will be supported after their training grant stipend ends and as an indicator of the quality of work being carried out in the lab. New Assistant Professors are not required to have extramural funding before they can join the training program, but they are expected to have grant proposals pending or in preparation and to have demonstrated potential for attracting support.

   d) willingness to participate in MBTG program activities

To benefit fully from the MBTG program, trainees require the support of their faculty mentors. Trainer applicants are asked to commit to specific program activities that require trainer involvement and are also judged on their past contributions to graduate training.

Using these criteria, the MBTG Steering Committee completed a review in early 2010 of our entire trainer pool. The resulting trainer pool of about 100 faculty members provides a tremendous breadth of choices to matriculating trainees. The trainers come from 26 different academic departments, and their research interests span the fields of cell biology, biochemistry, and microbiology. Each year, most MBTG trainers have space and funds available to accept one or more new students into their research groups. Students who earn their PhDs with MBTG trainers generally secure excellent postdoctoral positions. UW-Madison is nationally recognized for the high quality of its biological science PhD students, and the MBTG trainer labs represent the top training labs on campus.