Biomolecular Science and Engineering Training Program - Fellowship

The Biomolecular Science and Engineering Training Program at Rensselaer welcomes all applicants without discrimination. The program has a long-standing commitment to increasing the number of biomedical researchers from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. Our commitment to diversifying the biomedical workforce also includes LGBTQIA+ populations, socio-economically disadvantaged populations, and individuals with disabilities.

The fellowship covers full tuition and provides a stipend annually for two years for training related expenses (this does not include expenses related to research projects).

Students must satisfy these requirements at the time of application.

  • Incoming Ph.D. students through Ph.D. students who have not yet entered their third semester in the Ph.D. program.
  • Students must be enrolled in one of the participating departments at Rensselaer: Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
  • All students (US, International) are eligible for Rensselaer-funded cost share slots. Only U.S. Citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible for the NIH funded slots of the Training Program.
  • Students that have selected an advisor that is a member of the training program faculty
  • Students that have selected a co-advisor that is a member of the training program faculty from outside their department
  • Students that demonstrate a strong interest and research potential in biomolecular science and/or engineering

Fellowship Award Criteria:

  • Quality of proposed research plan (relevance to the goals of the Training Program, interdisciplinarity, innovation, approach)
  • Research Experience (e.g., Type and quality of undergraduate research experience (s))
  • Evidence of research accomplishments (e.g. number and type of publications, presentations, internal/external fellowships, awards)
  • Quality of letters of recommendation (e.g. motivation for predoctoral research with supporting evidence/observations, potential to completing academic and graduate level course requirement etc.)
  • Record of service to the society (STEM outreach experiences, near-peer mentoring, professional society etc.)
  • Academic Performance (e.g., GPA is used to evaluate quality of undergraduate coursework and potential to complete graduate school academic requirement)
  • Applicant diversity, students whose degree plans clearly delineate an interdisciplinary program, and balance among the four participating departments

Fellowship Requirements:

Trainees are required to participate a number of required training activities (A1-A13). These training activities are designed to further their careers in biotechnology and achieve the overarching and key objectives of the Training Program. Trainees who have fulfilled the requirements of the Training Program will be awarded a Training Certificate in Biomolecular Science and Engineering upon graduation from their Ph.D. programs.                    

A1: A core course entitled “Perspectives in Biomolecular Science and Engineering” that serves as a crosscutting and unifying course for the Training Program is required for all trainees (taken each year of their Ph.D. training) and is cross listed among all four departments.

A2: One course in each of the three broad categories covering the five training areas of Biomolecular Science and Engineering and a course in data science that maximizes didactic training among the key disciplines. Trainees have crossover course requirements (that is students must take courses outside of their own major such that biologists and chemists take bioengineering courses and engineers take molecular biology and biochemistry courses). The data science and data analytics courses provide opportunities to understand how quantitative engineering and computer science methods can be seamlessly integrated into fundamental biological studies.

A3: Entrepreneurship and Commercial Translation Experience. Each trainee will attend a day-long technology commercialization boot camp at the RPI Office of Intellectual Property Optimization (IPO) to learn about fundamentals of intellectual property, patent search, patent filing procedures and associated market research. Trainees may also participate in the 3-step entrepreneurial program at the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer where they pitch a commercial idea, conduct market research.

A4: Trainees will attend a high-profile seminar series, “Frontiers in Biotechnology” that provides immersive and interdisciplinary exposure to contemporary research in academia and industry (separate series). This seminar series is separate from individual departmental seminars.

A5: CBIS Student Seminar Series. Trainees organize and attend this seminar series. It gives trainees a greater appreciation of different research projects, address contemporary issues and enhances their training experience.

A6: Exposure to enrichment activities about human health, physiology, and disease. The Training Program participates in myriad seminar series/enrichment activities with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Health Hackathon), the University at Albany (Life at the Interface of Science and Engineering (LISE) Lecture Series) and the Albany Medical College (such as the Albany Medical Center Prize Lecture). It exposes trainees to cutting-edge research about the development and application of biomolecular and cellular function to impact human health, physiology and diseases. Trainees will attend the aforementioned seminars. Each year, trainees will participate in the 48-hour Health Hackathon at ISMMS which promotes the healthcare innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

A7: Trainees will participate in the Annual Retreat in biomolecular science and engineering. Here, trainees and others on campus interact with outside researchers in the field and hold breakout sessions in contemporary research areas and careers in biotechnology.

A8: Dual Advising and Multidisciplinary Ph.D. Thesis Committee Membership, with the goal of having all trainees earn their Ph.D. degree with a dissertation based on research conducted in the laboratories of two participating faculty advisors from different departments, while completing all of the individual departmental requirements for the Ph.D. degree in their home department. This is a unique aspect of the Training Program. This dual advising system fosters the collaboration of faculty from different ends of the life science-engineering spectrum.

A9: An Industrial Internship is required for all trainees where each trainee spends 2-3 summer months (or more) in an industrial research laboratory. All trainees also present posters and interact with industry personnel at annual meeting of the CBIS Industry Partners Program.

A10: International Experience (optional and contingent upon research project progression). CBIS has established partnerships with Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) Lisbon - Portugal; University of Montpellier, France; University of Toulouse, France; University of Queensland, Australia; and Seoul National University, South Korea. This combination of partners in research and education is diverse, scientifically broad, technologically astute, and has a long history of working together on complex and multidisciplinary problems.

A11: A dedicated course in the area of responsible conduct of research (entitled “Ethical Considerations in Biotechnology”), as well as eight online modular units, developed through an NIGMS Administrative Supplement on curricular or training activities in Rigor and Transparency to enhance Reproducibility are mandatory for trainees.

A12Participation in a set of dedicated activities (personalized for each trainee based on Individualized Development Plan) is required of all trainees to provide exposure and knowledge and soft skills required for diverse biomedical careers. Examples include a Frontiers in Biotechnology series, NIGMS supported online iBiology course, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Public Policy Institute, RPI’s Office of Graduate Education Training for the Future Program for industrial or academic careers.

A13: Provide annual progress report for each year of PhD training, complete annual surveys related mentor-mentee relationships etc. until graduation in a timely fashion and assist in the training program activities requiring student participation and input.

 Student Thesis Plan

YearSource of Support
1TA or Rensselaer/Isermann Fellowship (plus three lab rotations) or Training Program Fellowship
2Training Program Fellowship
3Training Program Fellowship
Summer between years 3 and 4Industrial internship
4RA (research assistantship) from faculty research grant
5 (if necessary)RA from faculty research grant
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