Resources for All Current Students

As a graduate student at UNC you should become familiar with the resources available to you. Do not try to solve problems on your own! Knowing where to turn when a problem arises, or how to put a safety mechanism in place before a problem arises, can be an important part of your success.

This page contains information and links to UNC offices, guides, policies, and contacts relevant to bioscience graduate students. If you have a suggestion for a resource that should be added to this page, contact Anna O’Connell at aboconnell@unc.edu.

Accessibility Resource Center: ARS is an office dedicated to supporting students in academic settings with physical disabilities, learning differences, accommodations for medical conditions, and other accessibility concerns. If you believe you need an accommodation in class or in lab, you must self-identify with ARS before anything can be put in place.  ARS can also help you navigate testing for ADHD or other learning differences. For workplace accommodations see the EOC Accommodations page.

The Learning Center: UNC’s Learning Center support students in their academic pursuits. Academic coaching can help any student get organized approaching lab work, reading papers, or create a study plan for your qualifying exams. If you have ADHD, or if you think you might, consider participating in the Graduate Student Working Group which is focused on time management, work life balance, motivation, and accountability (register here or for more information, email Miranda Elston). If you do have ADHD or a learning difference, read more about the ADHD/LD services available to you or make an appointment with an ADHD specialist who can help you navigate graduate school and maximize your success.

The Writing Center:  UNC’s Writing Center supports student writing in a variety of ways. All UNC students can schedule an in-person appointment with a writing coach or submit writing samples to an online coach who will provide specific feedback. This set of guides on scientific writing can be helpful to those who want to improve their writing skills. International students for whom English is a second language can access a wide variety of resources including writing groups, courses, and speaking groups. All international students will want to check out these guides for helpful ESL tips on academic writing.

Cultivating a network of friends and colleagues is an important strategy for success as a professional. UNC has a wide variety of communities available to graduate students, some focused around STEM and some around other identities.

UNC Centers that support student communities

The Graduate School Handbook: All policies and procedures set forth by the UNC Graduate School, the unit which governs all BBSP PhD programs. Below are direct links to some commonly requested policies.

Graduate Student Professional Federation (GPSF): Advocacy organization for graduate students.  GPSF representatives operate the Graduate Student Honor court, advocate for the interests of graduate students on campus committees, fund graduate student groups, and host events for graduate students.

The OGE offers training and resources to help graduate students prepare successful funding applications. Some of these resources include:

  • F31 and NSF preparation workshops: these are announced via the TIBBS listserv and are open to all trainees
  • Successful graduate student grant proposal examples (click here for a password protected library containing NSF, F31, and American Heart Association proposals from UNC trainees)
Graduate school is rigorous and demanding. Many graduate students struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness during their training. While it is common to experience these issues, you don’t have to suffer. With help you can manage your symptoms and live a balanced, fulfilling life.  Below are a few of the options available to BBSP graduate students.  If you are unsure where to turn, you may reach out to Anna O’Connell (aboconnell@unc.edu or 919-843-3387) for a consultation. While Anna is not a trained mental health provider, she is trained in Mental Health First Aid and is able to direct students to appropriate resources.

Student Wellness Coach: The School of Medicine has a trained mental health provider, Alli Schad, LCSWA, available to meet with students one-on-one to address mental health concerns.  Alli provides counseling, referral to resources, and support to students in BBSP as well as MD students. To make an appointment with Alli visit this page.  Alli can also be reached directly at allison_schad@med.unc.edu.

UNC Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): BBSP students are also eligible to receive counseling and medication management from UNC’s Counseling & Psychological Services. To be seen for the first time at CAPS you do not need an appointment. Walk in hours for initial assessments are Monday – Thursday 9-12, 1-4 or Fridays 9:30-12, 1- 4. CAPS is located on the 3rd floor of the Student Health Clinic.  If you do not know where CAPS is located or are uncomfortable walking over there on your own, Anna O’Connell and others in the OGE are available to walk with you.

Other resources outside of UNC-CH

UNC Chapel Hill resources

Other resources

  • Personal Finance for PhDs: a blog and several reasonably priced ebooks about managing finances while on a graduate student stipend
Biomedical research increasingly requires the ability to collect, process, and analyze data quantitatively. This page is a collection of resources available to UNC researchers, both on-campus and virtually. If you know of other resources that may be useful to others, let us know.

Workshops through Health Sciences Library: HSL offers a suite of individual sessions on topics related to bioinformatics and computational biology. A sampling of the workshops offered are listed below. For course availability, schedule, and further details, please click here.

  • Introduction to UNIX for Biologists
  • Introduction to Sequencing Technology
  • Introduction to Analysis of Next Generation Sequencing Data
  • Introduction to Protein Data Bank and Pymol
  • Browsing Genes and Genomes with Ensembl and Ensembl Genomes (Full day workshop)

Online Resources

Probability and Statistics

Other Online Resources

Your PI is invested in your success and is an important source of support and mentoring during your training. In addition to her or him, the individuals listed here a resource to you. Seek them out when you need advice or additional support.

  • Your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Student Services Manager (SSM): Your DGS and SSM are specifically invested in your progress and your well-being. They have experience with common student issues. It is important to keep the program informed if you are having any difficulty that impacts your performance because they can assist in resolving issues.
  • Anna O’Connell, Office of Graduate Education: Anna can provide advice and coaching to students who are experiencing a difficult issue. Typically Anna will also provide a connection with other appropriate on and off campus resources. Anna can be reached at aboconnell@unc.edu or by phone at 919-843-3387. Anna is available any time to answer questions, to advise on an unusual situation, for coaching, or to direct you to resources. You can email her to set up an appointment (aboconnell@unc.edu).  Also, Anna holds open office hours every Wednesday and Thursday from 9-10am in her office, 1125 Bioinformatics.  No appointment is needed.
  • Hoi Ning Ngai, Associate Dean for Student Affairs: Hoi Ning, based in in the Graduate School, is a resource for all UNC graduate students and can advise especially on unusual or difficult situations. Many students have the misconception that seeking advice from someone in The Graduate School is equivalent to filing a formal complaint. It is important to know this is not the case. The Graduate School is a valuable resource for you at any stage. Hoi Ning can be reached at hngai@email.unc.edu or by phone at 919-962-6329.
  • Office of the Dean of Students: The Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) is concerned with the well-being of all students on campus. You do not need an appointment to meet with someone in the Dean of Students office.  Walk In Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  • UNC Ombuds: a confidential resource for all UNC-CH students, faculty, and staff. The Ombuds office can offer advice, coach individuals on responding to a situation, mediate conflicts, and more. As with The Graduate School, the Ombuds does not have to be a ‘last resort’ option and is not a formal complaint process. You can contact them anytime, and no one has to know. To make an appointment email, email one of the staff in the office directly.
BBSP Student Resources Site: (requires onyen login) For links to rotation postings and community information.

Novice Guide to Graduate School [pdf]:This guide was developed by the graduate student members of the Professional Development Committee for the UNC Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD). It includes a PhD Glossary of commonly used terms and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. The guide was written for an audience that knows very little about science culture and graduate school so that you can also share it with your family and friends.

Life as a Biomedical Graduate Student at UNC: Check out our video featuring some of our current students describing what life at UNC is like.  This video is another great resource to share with your friends and family if they are curious what it means to be a graduate student in the biosciences.

GPSF Resource Guide: Information about life in Chapel Hill, courtesy of UNC’s Graduate Student Professional Federation.

Other resources outside of UNC-CH

All graduate students have a right to a safe, respectful working environment free of harassment. Students also have a right to an ethically responsible scientific environment, and as UNC scientists they have a responsibility to conduct their own science ethically. The links below point to UNC policies governing ethical and professional behavior relevant to biomedical graduate students, as well as options for reporting policy violations. Click here to access all UNC Policies.

Anna O’Connell is available for consultation if you are unsure about how to handle a specific situation or whether it constitutes a policy violation.

UNC-CH Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct 

  • safe.unc.edu: UNC’s portal for information and reporting incidences of discrimination, harassment, interpersonal violence, and stalking.
  • File a report: more information about reporting options including anonymous support. Most individuals employed by UNC to whom a student might choose to make a report are considered Responsible Employees and must report these incidences to the Title IX office. This helps the university coordinate a response. Anonymous reporting options are described here.
  • Gender Violence Services Coordinators: confidential support staff in the UNC Women’s Center (the GVSC are not responsible employees and can keep conversations confidential)
  • Guide to getting support [pdf]

UNC-CH Policy on Research Misconduct [pdf]

UNC-CH Policy on ADA Reasonable Accommodations

Report any Policy Violation: scroll down to select the type of concern you are reporting.

UNC Ombuds: a confidential resource for all UNC-CH students, faculty, and staff. The Ombuds office can offer advice, coach individuals on responding to a situation, mediate conflicts, and more. Contacting the Ombuds office is not necessarily at ‘last resort’. It can be a first step, a place to get advice. Their resources page contains many helpful links on conflict resolution.