The University of Utah operates on the semester system. First-year graduate students begin their studies in August. Prior to their arrival, each student is assigned a faculty advisor, who will provide guidance on first-year curriculum and laboratory rotation choices for the fellowship semester.
All Ph.D. students admitted to the Nanotechnology Training Program (NTP) receive financial support by way of a pre-doctoral fellowship, tuition benefit and health insurance in lieu of departmental/PI funding for one semester.
During the first year of graduate study, graduate students spend much of their time in the classroom. During the NTP semester, students must take two full-semester length core courses that have been designed to provide them with a solid background in a variety of important areas of nanotechnology. By the end of the first year of study, all students are expected to have fulfilled the program's core requirements with grades of B- or better. The program's required core courses are listed below:
Nanoscience: where Biology, Chemistry and Physics Intersect (BIOL/CHEM/PHYS 5810/CHEM 6810)
Nanomedicine (BIOEN 6305/PHCEU 7230)
NTP students must also enroll in one elective course. These are didactic courses designed to help students gain proficiency in their specialized areas of interest.
NTP students enroll in a journal club. The journal club is designed to give students practice in reading and analyzing the scientific literature and presenting formal seminars on selected topics. The journal club is supervised by one or two faculty members, who assist students in selecting articles and in organizing presentations.
NTP students must also attend select Nano Institute seminars. Each participating department also has it's own weekly journal clubs and research-in-progress seminars that are considered a continuing and vital part of the student's graduate education.
Case Studies in Research Ethics (ETHICS 7570/MBIOL 7570) is taken in the fall semester of the first year of graduate study. In this class, students discuss ethical issues of scientific research and integrity. Specific topics include scientific fraud, conflicts of interest, plagiarism, authorship designation, and the role of science in formulating social policy.
NTP students complete two laboratory rotations during their NTP Fellowship semester of their first year of graduate study. Laboratory rotations are essential to identify the appropriate thesis mentor and lab. In addition, laboratory rotations expose students to a wide variety of research areas and contacts. To assist students in identifying productive and exciting laboratory rotation experiences, program faculty present short talks about their research programs during the fall semester in the Faculty Research Seminar forum. Program faculty talks inform students about the diversity of possible thesis topics and the variety of experimental approaches employed in the different program laboratories.
Students choose thesis advisors at the end of Spring semester. Arrangements are made by mutual agreement between mentor and student, and automatically admit the student to the degree program of the advisor's department within the Colleges of Science, Engineering, Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine where they will get their respective Ph.D. degrees. Program faculty members strive to arrange space in their labs so that they can accommodate at least one thesis student from each NTP class.