The selection committee comprises three members of the graduate faculty: Dr. Loren Ammerman, Dr. Robert Dowler and Dr. Nick Negovetich. Committee membership may change at the request of a participating faculty member or the department head. Dr. Ammerman, the biology graduate advisor, chairs the committee.
When assistantships are available, application materials will be solicited twice each year: March 15 for fall assistantships and Oct. 15 for spring assistantships.
Applicants must submit:
- A letter of application
- Three letters of reference
- GRE scores
- A completed University Graduate and Teaching Assistantship Application and official transcripts for all college work
All application materials must be submitted to the committee chair by the above dates. Any decision to reopen the application period will be made by the department head and the chairperson of the committee. This decision will be based on the number and quality of the applications received.
Each applicant will be evaluated and quantitatively ranked on the basis of five criteria:
- Undergraduate biology junior/senior GPA
- GRE score
- Letters of reference
- Special abilities/skills needed by the department
- A comparative evaluation
We award student assistantships for two reasons: to assist worthy students in their education and to provide our department with able assistance in the preparation of laboratories and laboratory instruction. This portion of the evaluation is very self-serving as these points are based solely on how the applicant can help the department.
Obviously, departmental needs change from semester-to-semester and year-to-year and, as such, this portion of the evaluation will change. If students have outstanding abilities/skills that can be immediately tapped to fill a current need in the department (i.e. microbiology lab prep, teach anatomy/physiology labs, teach 1408/1409 labs, teach zoology labs), they will receive more points. Fewer points will be credited to those applicants who have no special background, but have demonstrated the ability and desire to be trained in a particular area.
The lowest score is awarded to those applicants having no special skills and an average background.
This portion of the selection process is based on an overall evaluation of the applicant in comparison to current and past assistants. The highest ranking will be given to an outstanding applicant who is truly exceptional in all regards (grades, competency, desire, enthusiasm). This applicant is comparable to the best assistant ever employed by our department.
A high rating will be applied to the applicant who seems to be very good and has the potential of being an excellent assistant. Following this will be a lower ranking given to the applicant with average capabilities and average desire. Applicants receiving a low ranking in this category may not be considered as viable candidates for an assistantship.
Each committee member records each applicant’s scores from the five areas. Then, the sums from each committee member will be tallied for each applicant. These scores will be used to rank the applicants and these rankings will be used to award assistantships. The applicant having the highest total score will receive the first assistantship and so forth down the list until all available assistantships have been awarded.
The committee has the choice of sending one of several recommendations to the department head:
- Award no assistantships and reopen the application period.
- Award available assistantships to all applicants in the ranked order.
- Award assistantships only to the applicants listed (the top three candidates) and reopen the application period for additional or unfilled assistantships.
Term of Employment
Graduate assistants are employed for a nine-month period (fall and spring semesters). There is no guarantee of summer employment or second-year employment.
If adequate funds are available for second-year employment and if the department head and supervising faculty are satisfied with the work of an assistant, the assistant will be re-employed for a second year.
Normally, a graduate assistant will not be employed past the two-year period. However, under unusual circumstances (i.e., illness, unavoidable problems with research, departmental need), a one-semester (fall or spring) extension may be requested. To be considered for an extension, the student must submit to the Biology Assistantship Committee by the application due date a written request in which they explain the circumstances requiring the extension. The student’s graduate advisor must also submit a letter of support for the extension.
Graduate Assistant Placement
The department head will assign graduate assistants to courses each semester based on departmental need and special skills of the assistants. Before assistant assignments are announced, faculty will be notified of the assignments to review and, if needed, suggest alternate placements.