Advance Professional Growth


The academic competency spans scholarship, teaching, and mentorship and includes:

  • Ability to define a research question and strategically plan an approach
  • Ability to be pro-active, self-motivated, persistent and decisive
  • Ability to plan a course, implement activities, and assess student learning
  • Ability to generate and test theories and seek solutions to problems

Progress is divided into three stages. Each stage includes recommended steps.

Early stage (years 1-2)

  • Connect coursework, research & scholarship
  • Explore resources to support academic efforts, teaching, and mentoring
  • Attend TA orientation & teaching workshops
  • Plan & present research

Mid stage (years 2-4)

  • Attend a variety of University events
  • Develop collaborative relationships to support research projects
  • Seek scholarships & fellowships
  • Develop a teaching statement
  • Formulate & defend thesis proposal

Late stage (years 4-5)

  • Form a dissertation writing group
  • Advance your writing & presentation skills for multiple audiences
  • Finalize projects & submit approvals
  • Present & defend final thesis
  • Create your 5-year research plan

Activities and milestones that support attainment of the academic competency include but are not limited to:


  • Lab meetings1
  • Seminar2
  • Coursework3
  • Teaching Assistant4


  • Orientation & Leadership Retreat14
  • Leadership & Professional Series

Graduate school/other

  • Teaching Academy sessions15


  • Lab meetings5
  • Seminar6
  • Coursework7
  • Journal clubs8
  • Applications for funding & travel grants9
  • Program offerings10


  • Orientation & Leadership Retreat
  • Leadership & Professional Series

Graduate school/other

  • Teaching Academy sessions16


  • Lab meetings11
  • Seminar
  • Journal clubs
  • Applications for scholarship & travel grants12
  • Writing groups13


  • Orientation & Leadership Retreat
  • Leadership & Professional Series

Graduate school/other

  • Teaching Academy sessions

Expectations for the academic competency


Inadequate research planning and limited preparation for lab meetings. Not maintaining satisfactory standing in program. Inconsistent attendance at seminar, in coursework, or during other professional obligations. Impedes cooperation and mentoring in lab group. Demonstrates minimal effort for coursework, TA assignments, or RA assignments.


Making progress on coursework, research and established necessary meetings with mentor. Contributes to the lab in appropriate ways. Developing collaborations. Developing skills in generation and testing theories. Demonstrates sufficient planning most times.

Performs to Expectations

Is proactive and timely in establishing meetings with mentor and committee meeting. Distinguish his/her self though internships scholarship, or collaborative projects. Mentors undergraduates or contributes to STEM in appropriate ways. Well thought out plans for coursework, research, teaching and mentoring philosophies, and plans as appropriate for goals.

1 Lab meetings are rich with opportunities. We recommend you focus on being pro-active, demonstrating self-motivation, persistence and decisiveness. If you are mentoring an undergraduate, consider helping them learn more about preparing for lab meeting and provide a chance for debriefing when needed.
2 Each program has requirements to attend and present in seminar. Take the opportunity to expand your content knowledge through reading related papers, and expand your understanding of areas outside of your research area. Expect to expand your scholarship through your seminar preparation and presentation.
3 Take the opportunity to connect coursework, research and scholarship in courses such as XXX 564 Topics in Biomedical Experimentation, XXX Deconstruction of Research, VET_PATH 544 Immunology and VET_PATH 545 Mechanisms of Disease.
4 There are differences between assignments during Teaching Assistantships. Once you understand the structure and expectations, consider seeking opportunity to expand an area of your teaching experience such as delivering the lectures on a particular section, drafting exam questions and a grading rubric. Your Teaching Assistantship provides an opportunity to gather experience and evidence to support the development of a teaching statement or philosophy.
5 Use your lab meeting to better understand how to define a research question, strategically plan an approach. If you are mentoring undergraduates consider ways to support them secure internships and/or scholarships.
6 Challenge yourself to determine how the presenter defines the question and presents the research plan. Where are the opportunities for alternative ways to test those theories or solve specific problems?
7 Some elective coursework includes writing a grant proposal.
8 Scholarly activities such as seminar and journal clubs offer an opportunity to engage deeply with others as you learn and expand scientific knowledge. Give yourself time to professionally grow in these events by engaging early, seeking leadership opportunities such as paper selection and leading discussions to allowing all to participate.
9 It takes time to apply for research and travel funding but it also takes a certain type of critical consideration as you select opportunities and prepare a competitive application. Seek opportunities to learn more about what is available, ask for feedback on your ‘chances’ and strength of your application.
10 Each program offers special opportunities, some of which are required, to learn and practice important skills. Look for topics such as ‘How to write a proposal’ & ‘How to give a science presentation’ & ‘How to give & receive feedback’. The graduate student annual review process provides an opportunity for you to review and modify your research plan, finalize projects and submit approvals.
11 Use your lab meetings to better understand how to generate and test theories, and seek solutions to problems.
12 If you have been successful securing funding for a project or travel be sure to leverage that success into a future opportunity by networking and assisting others. Look for ways to maintain and manage the project budget and resources.
13 Forming or participating in a writing group offers many benefits (motivation, constructive criticism, opportunity to provide feedback, learn from others and commitment of time). Will you initiate a writing group? Will you be generous with others as you participate?
14 The orientation & leadership retreat is required for first year students but the content has something to offer students during each year of the program. We recommend that you consider attending all of the events during your first year and some of the event each year thereafter. You can sit in on topics about tenure and promotion, conflict resolution and consider serving on a panel.
15 The CVM Teaching Academy offers many sessions throughout the year. Be selective but consider participating in sessions to help you learn more about assessment, student learning outcomes, and Scientific Teaching.
16 Attend and participate in offerings hosted by the CVM Teaching Academy to learn more about course planning, developing homework assignments and assessing student learning.