IB Graduate Advising

IB Advising Structure

Please also see our Integrative Biology Community Agreement.


Your Graduate Program Manager

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, TA (formerly 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 Program Manager, 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/they is an important resource for you as you create and implement your plan for research and scholarly development. Be sure to ask him/her/them 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: Britt Koskella

3rd Years:  Peter Sudmant

4th Years: Peter Sudmant

5th Years and Beyond: John Huelsenbeck

Head Graduate Advisor: 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) before or 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. The student must meet with the committee and complete an annual review before September in their first Fall semester.

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, or it can be a UC Berkeley faculty member outside IB. 


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

Once you have passed your qualifying exam, you must assemble a dissertation committee and file to advance to candidacy via a form in CalCentral. 

  • Typical dissertation committees consist of 3 people, but you can add a fourth member if you'd like.
  • Your faculty mentor is the Chair of this committee.
  • At least 50% of your committee (2 people) must be faculty in IB but your other committee members can be UC Berkeley faculty from other departments.

This committee will advise you on your research for the remainder of your PhD candidacy. They will read and sign your dissertation before you file it.

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. Check-in with Monica Albe (ibgradsao@berkeley.edu) if you are considering this option. Please also see the Graduate Division's guidelines on higher degree committees.


See here for information on Annual Reviews



Other Department Advisors

Graduate students may also consult with the TA (formerly GSI) Affairs Advisor for issues concerning TA appointments, TA supervisors, or other graduate teaching concerns within the department. Our current TA Affairs Advisor is Professor Jimmy McGuire.

Another wonderful resource for graduate students are our department Faculty Equity Advisors. The Equity Advisors act as liaisons between IB and the campus and interpret and work to implement policies that relate to equity and inclusion. The Equity Advisors have important roles in faculty searches, advancement and retention, graduate student admission, fellowship nominations, and departmental climate for equity and inclusion.