The three questions on our prospective graduate student evaluation form

We learn so much about our new grad student applicants, but the form we fill out on line for our Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, DBBS, only wants us to put down three things.

We are asked:
1. What was the candidate’s response to the discussion of your research? Were the candidate’s questions and comments appropriate?

2. What is your general impression of the candidate?

3. Is this candidate a person whom you might wish to have in your laboratory?

Obviously we don’t have to keep our opinions to just these three things, but someone thought this is what the form should be. Why don’t I like it? I don’t like it because it seems so professor centric. It focuses on the professor, his lab, (totally sounds like a him to me), and whether the candidate measures up.

What do I want instead? I feel I learn more listening to a candidate tell about their own research experiences, what went well, what did not, what causes them to shine with excitement, what sorts of big questions inspire them. I want to see them as a glowing budding scientist who will continue to flourish. I can tell this so much better from hearing about their work than from hearing how thoroughly they’ve read about mine. There is plenty of time for that later, should our general field inspire them.

But with our big DBBS machine, we are stuck with these patriarchal feeling questions. Let’s hope we can get around them in the discussion.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Graduate school, Interviewing, Undergraduates and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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