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Four ways to start the academic year off strong

Andrew Watson, PhD

Welcome to a new academic year. On September 6, we held our largest orientation event ever for more than 270 new trainees. The next few years are going to be among the most important and enjoyable years of your training, and I am looking forward to seeing all of your achievements, as there will be many.

September is well underway, and I am certain that you are well into 'course-mode' and have begun, or will soon begin, to assemble your advisory committees. These first few months of graduate school will fly by, but they also will influence how your projects get off the ground and determine how quickly you will be able to write and defend your thesis. Make the most of these first few months, and give your best efforts to the start of your projects.

These fall months are all about scholarships. I can’t emphasize enough how important they are and how critical they can be to increasing the number of options for you down the road. Make sure you are aware of the relevant submission dates and regulations that surround each application. The Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website is a wonderful resource for you, and your supervisor, graduate program chair/director and graduate administrator will offer incredible assistance for your applications.

Here are four keys to a great start with your research project:

Current Affairs, this monthly newsletter for graduate trainees and postdoctoral fellows, exists only to assist you and your progress. Through my messages I wish to cover topics that are truly meaningful to you and will provide you with information you are looking for. With that said, I need your input on topics to cover. Send all of your topic suggestions to

I am also always interested in meeting with each of you, as I enjoy learning more about you and your research projects. Introduce yourself by emailing me and let’s set up a time to talk.


Andrew J. Watson, PhD
Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies