Program Design

CLIMB is a supplemental professional development program, so you will complete CLIMB training along with your own graduate program requirements. The program is designed to maximize the success and rate of professional development using key techniques:

  • Carefully situating activities during the first two years of training when they are most needed and relevant.
  • Employing a collaborative learning approach, rather than leaving students to learn and master skills of a scientist on their own.
  • Mentoring is integrated across structured group mentoring (led by the CLIMB leadership), peer mentoring (building an early network of professional colleagues) and traditional mentoring by primary disciplinary research mentors.

Two-Year Training Sequence

Beginning graduate students are expected to go through a large and rapid growth during their training, so the CLIMB program extends over a two-year sequence. It introduces training activities at key times during these initial years.

Year 1

Summer Quarter (strongly encouraged, but not required)
Training activity:

  • A summer lab rotation is a great way to get a jump start on the transition into graduate school. CLIMB can provide funding for some students and can assist other students to find funding for this early start.

The fall quarter of the first year focuses on the transitions to graduate school when all students are going through tem. The focus during the rest of the first year is on oral communication skills because the early impressions being formed by faculty and peers are heavily influenced by your informal verbal conversations and formal presentations.

Fall Quarter - Transitions
Training activities and key lessons:
  • Supporting your transition and evolution from undergraduate to PhD science and learning during your first quarter
  • Finding mentors that "fit" each student's interests and approaches to science and research
  • Adapting to and excelling in PhD-level coursework and research rotations
  • Opportunities to meet and learn from advanced graduate students who have experienced the transitions, through social activities and a panel discussion
Winter and Spring Quarters - Oral Communication Skills
Training activities and key lessons:
  • Instruction on creating and giving outstanding talks
  • Practice giving presentations, which are video recorded with extensive feedback
  • Presenting to diverse audiences, from experts to colleagues
  • Creating and presenting scientific posters
  • Starting to build a professional network

Year 2

The second year is focused on written communication skills because most graduate students are writing applications for external funding and/or preparing for written research proposals in their qualifying exams at the end of the second year. Moreover, writing a research proposal sharpens your critical thinking skills and is essential for refining research questions to be asked during the PhD dissertation.

Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters - Written Communication Skills
Training activities and key lessons:
  • Introduction to potential funding sources (fellowships, training grants, travel awards) and assistance in applying for such awards
  • Year-long, structured group sequence focused on research proposal writing skills, leading up to each person's dissertation proposal
  • Participation in the evolution of research proposals of your fellow students, rather than just your own
  • Learning to give and receive helpful feedback on writing
  • Focused instruction on technical writing skills within the dissertation proposal context and applications for fellowships and training grants
  • Introduction to the NIH grant review process and the technique of "writing for reviewers"

Schedules and Syllabi

The most recent schedules and syllabi for each quarter of our two-year curriculum of workshops can be found in Current Schedules.