IB Advising Structure


Your Graduate Student Services Advisor

This is the staff member in the department that helps students navigate the process of getting a PhD at Berkeley -- from recruitment to filing dissertations. She is familiar with campus policies and can help you with issues related to the Graduate Division, fellowships, GSI and GSR appointments and other forms/regulations/processes you may have to deal with. She also can connect you with campus and external resources related to wellness, career development and equity & inclusion. She is an important resource and advocate for you.

Request an advising appointment with Monica Albe, your IB Graduate Student Services Advisor, by emailing her at ibgradsao@berkeley.edu or scheduling a meeting with her through bCal (any open time slot on her calendar between 9am and 5pm, Monday - Friday). You can also drop by to say hello -- her office is in 3040 VLSB.


Your Faculty Mentor (Primary Faculty Advisor)

Your faculty mentor is your primary advisor on academic issues and works in consultation with your Advisory, Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Committees. He/she is an important resource for you as you create and implement your plan for research and scholarly development. Be sure to ask him/her for advice on what classes to take, which journals to follow, which conferences to attend and societies to join, what research methods to use, and who else you could be connecting and collaborating with in the scientific community.


Your IB Cohort Faculty Advisor (Graduate Advisors)

These advisors are faculty members appointed to serve as deputies of the Graduate Division to ensure students are making appropriate progress toward meeting the annual goals set by the department and the Graduate Division. There is a graduate advisor available to each cohort of students.

The IB Graduate Advisors for specific years are:

1st Years: Britt Koskella

2nd Years: Bruce Baldwin

3rd Years:  Michael Nachman

4th Years: Rauri Bowie

5th Years and Beyond: Seth Finnegan


The Head Graduate Advisor

The Head Faculty Graduate Advisor in IB chairs the committee of Graduate Advisors and is the department's official liaison with the Graduate Division. The Head Graduate Advisor signs all correspondence sent by the department to the Graduate Division including routine petitions, such as Advancement to Candidacy forms, and requests for exceptions to policy.

While requests may be initiated by your mentor, they will not be accepted unless accompanied by an endorsement from the Head Graduate Advisor.

The Head Graduate Advisor can approve requests for a change to another mentor after discussion and agreement among all parties.

The IB Head Graduate Advisor is currently Seth Finnegan.


Your Advisory Committee

The purpose of this committee is to help you plan your program through advancement to candidacy, assuring that you are broadly educated in biology and prepared to move in unexpected directions as your career unfolds. Your committee will also advise you on specialized training. This committee may become part or all of your Dissertation Committee after you have advanced to candidacy.

First years are to form their Advisory Committee (sometimes referred to as Supervisory Committee) at the start of their first semester. This Committee consists of your mentor and two other faculty members, one of whom must be from Integrative Biology.

Ask your mentor for suggestions about who would be most appropriate.

Guidelines for selecting faculty:

  • One should be in an area closely allied to your research interests.
  • The other should be from an area sufficiently removed from your interest to broaden the sweep of the research problem, but close enough to actively contribute to your program.
  • The third member may be from Integrative Biology, but it will be to your advantage to begin working with a member of another department who could serve as the "outside" member of your Qualifying Examination and/or Dissertation Committees.


The Qualifying Examination Committee

Your Qualifying Exam must be taken by the end of the fourth semester. In Integrative Biology this is an oral examination lasting approximately three hours and administered by your Qualifying Examination Committee.

The Qualifying Examination Committee is composed of 4 faculty members:

  • At least 50% of the members (including the chair) must be academic senate members and from the Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Students can choose to have all their QE committee members as faculty in Integrative Biology, but members can also be faculty (members of the academic senate) from another department on the Berkeley campus.
  • Students can ask for an exception to have one non-academic senate member on their committee -- if interested, please ask for details about this exception from Monica Albe, the Graduate Student Services Advisor. 
  • The Committee Chair moderates the exam.

Your mentor is permitted to attend the exam but can neither be a questioning nor a voting member of the committee. Your mentor and your Supervisory Committee can help you select a Qualifying Examination Committee, but the choice will be largely determined by your developing interests. As you take courses in the first two or three semesters consider whether the professors teaching them would be committee members compatible with your interests and goals.

For full details on the Qualifying Exam, please see IB's QE Guidelines, and the general guidelines on the Graduate Divisions' website.


The Dissertation Committee

File for advancement to candidacy by petition to the Graduate Division after passing the Qualifying Examination. This petition asks that you list your Dissertation Committee.

This committee includes:

  • Your mentor is usually the Chair to this committee.
  • One (1) member is from the Integrative Biology faculty.
  • A third is a Berkeley Academic Senate member from another department on campus.

This committee will advise you on your research through the time you file your dissertation. They will read and sign your dissertation.

Under certain circumstances, a non-Senate member may be appointed to a committee if the Head Graduate Advisor determines that the individual in question offers expertise not otherwise available among the regular faculty and if the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division concurs in that judgment.

Ordinarily, the potential committee member's CV is submitted with the petition for Advancement to Candidacy. This member may not serve as either the Chair or outside member of the committee. If you are unsure whether an individual qualifies as a dissertation committee member, ask your Graduate Advisor or check with the Graduate Student Affairs Officer.

*Professors from other departments with a joint appointment to Integrative Biology may serve as an inside member of both the Qualifying and Dissertation Committees but may not serve in the capacity of outside member.


See here for information on Annual Reviews