Resources for BBSP Faculty

This page contains information and links relevant to faculty mentoring BBSP students. You may also find the other pages in this resource section (for BBSP students, and for All Students) useful. Not sure who to contact? Click here.

Academic Writing – 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 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.

UNC-CH Policy on ADA Reasonable Accommodations

  • Students must register with Accessibility Resources for accommodations in class. If a student in one of your courses discloses a disability to you and you have not received notification from ARS, please refer the student to ARS. Staff at the ARS are always available to discuss questions you may have including concerns about unreasonable accommodations. The Faculty & Staff page contains many helpful links.
  • Students must work with EOC for workplace accommodations including religious, accessibility, or medical conditions.

Academic Resources on Campus

Academic Related Policies

BBSP Faculty Affiliation Process: In order to take students from BBSP, faculty must:

  1. Be a faculty member of one of the BBSP PhD programs. If you are not automatically part of a PhD program based on your departmental appointment, you may reach out to the DGS of programs of interest to inquire about their affiliation process.
  2. Be formally affiliated with BBSP. To apply for BBSP affiliation, email Dave McDonald at

BBSP Rotations

  • Rotation advertisements: to post an ad on the BBSP Student Rotation forum click here (requires onyen log in).
  • BBSP Rotation requirement: Students are required to complete 3 rotations. Typically the rotations are Fall (Sept to Nov), Winter (Nov to Feb), and Spring (Feb to April). Check the Resources for Current BBSP students page for the current rotation schedule.
  • Summer rotations are an option for students, but they must be financially supported by the faculty member. Each year the BBSP office sends out information about the cost of a summer rotation student. Students who do a summer rotation are only required to complete 2 more rotations (Fall and Winter). At the end of the Winter rotation these students can choose to join a thesis lab early if they wish. However, faculty are under no obligation to accept a student into their lab early. If you are interested in accepting the student, but wish to consider Spring rotation students first, students can do the Spring rotation at no penalty to them.
  • Rotation Grades: each rotation is a 3 credit course for which students receive a grade. It is important to set out clear (and reasonable) rotation goals and expectations at the beginning of the rotation, and then to base the grade on the student’s performance relative to the goals. Goals and expectations should be adjusted during the rotation as circumstances dictate (an unexpected issue with samples or a technique, an unexpected illness, etc). BBSP issues grading guidelines, click here to access the most recent grade guide.
If you have a general question, are unsure what your needs are, or have an unusual situation – the individuals listed here are available as a resource to you (and your students). Any one of them is available to talk with faculty at any time to decide on a course of action.

  • Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Student Services Manager (SSM) for your student’s PhD program: these individuals administer the PhD programs and have experience with common student issues. It is important to keep the program informed if a student is having difficulty. An early intervention can often reset the student and avoid delays in progress.
  • Dave McDonald, Office of Graduate Education: Dave can provide advice and coaching to faculty or students who are experiencing a mentoring or student progress issue. Typically Dave will also provide a connection with other appropriate on and off-campus resources. Dave can be reached at or by phone at 919-843-3387.
  • Hoi Ning Ngai, Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the Graduate School: Hoi Ning is a resource for faculty and students, especially for unusual or difficult situations. Hoi Ning can be reached at 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. Their Faculty & Staff page provides excellent information on recognizing students of concern, how to make a referral for help, and more. To reach someone in DOS simply call 919-966-4042 and explain that you are a faculty member at UNC calling with a concern about a graduate student.
  • 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. To make an appointment email, email one of the staff in the office directly.

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.

The Office of Graduate Education is committed to supporting faculty in their work as mentors. This effort is led by Jessica Harrell, PhD (email). Email either one of them with any questions about mentoring. Below is a list of mentoring services available to biomedical research faculty.

  • Mentor Training for Biomedical Researchers series: Twice yearly workshop series covering foundations of effective mentoring. More information about the workshop can be found here, including a helpful resource page.
  • Custom Mentoring Workshops: We are available upon request to create and lead custom offerings that meet the needs of your department, professional group, or other organization.
  • Mentoring Brown Bag Lunch Series: For mentors who have completed the Mentor Training series listed above.  Offered several times a year, these lunches are informal gatherings focused on topics relevant to mentors. Past topics have included managing different personalities in your lab group, supporting students with chronic absences due to health issues and how to be both available as needed but also encourage independence.  New sessions are announced via a listserv of past mentor training participants.
  • One on One coaching for Mentors: Your colleagues, your DGS, or your department chair can all be important sources of advice and support if you are dealing with a difficult situation in your lab group. In addition to these resources, Jessica Harrell (email) are available to provide additional perspectives and advice.
Many graduate students experience depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses during their graduate training. If one of your students is struggling, while you may be very concerned for their well-being you may also feel uneasy about addressing the issue directly. This is normal, but it is important to talk with your student to offer support. and direct them to resources. If you are unsure what to do, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of your student’s PhD program may be able to advise you. Additionally, you may reach out to Dave McDonald for a consultation. While Dave is not a trained mental health provider, he is able to direct you or your students to appropriate resources.  Below are a few UNC resources available to advisors seeking support for their students.

If you have an imminent concern for a student based on a threat of harm to self or others call UNC Public Safety at 919-962-8100 or call 911.

Student Wellness Coach: the School of Medicine has a trained mental health provider, Alli Schad, LCSW, 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. You can refer your student to Alli by giving them her emali address ( or you may reach out to her to express your concern directly.

UNC Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): CAPS offers counseling and medication management to UNC students. No appointment is needed for an initial assessment. 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.  Dave McDonald and others in the OGE are available to walk a student over if they are unsure of the way or are uncomfortable going on their own.

Dean of Students: if you need help deciding if it is appropriate to make a referral for mental health counseling or if you need help with a student in a very unusual situation, the Office of the Dean of Students can also provide advice. They can be reached at 919-966-4042.

Other reading about mental health in biomedical science trainees

Biostatistics: The OGE organizes a Biostatistics course for biomedical scientists – BBSP 601. The course is offered each fall and the course director is Rob Nicholas.

Rigor & Reproducibility
: The OGE and MSTP program jointly created and offer a course titled “Best Practices for Reproducibility and Rigor in Research”. For more information about this course contact Rob Nicholas

Responsible Conduct of Research Training: All BBSP entered students receive training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) during their First Year Group course. For information about the curriculum contact Dave McDonald or Donita Robinson.  Additionally, the OGE has collected resources for PhD and T32 programs to create and lead their own ‘senior’ RCR training to satisfy the NIH requirement.  For more information about this, please contact Rob Nicholas.

Grant Application Assistance: The OGE is available to assist graduate students, T32 directors, and other individuals writing grants related to graduate education and training. The types of information and assistance we can provide includes:

  • 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)
  • T32 Data Tables and Boilerplate text for Admissions, Professional Development, Diversity, Individual Development Plans, and RCR training.  Please email Dave McDonald with your request.
  • Diversity Supplement Consultations: If your student is eligible for a Diversity Supplement on your R01, please contact Ashalla Freeman for a consultation.
  • T32 Program Evaluation ConsultationsBeka Layton is available for survey design assistance; one-on-one consultations on program evaluation plans; advising on data preparation, analysis, and interpretation; and connection to additional resources for more complex consultation needs.