Departmental Seminar Programs

The Departmental Student Seminar is held Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. (see Seminar Schedules), at which students present their research and receive input from faculty members and fellow students about their experiments and their presentations.

Numerous informal seminars, journal clubs and laboratory meetings are also held at assorted venues across the Department. These provide a unique opportunity to hear colleagues' most recent experimental results and provide students with ample opportunities to hone their presentation skills; this experience proves invaluable when students begin to search for post-doctoral or other positions.

Student Seminar Courses (MMG1015Y & MMG 1017H)

Course Coordinators: Olivia rissland, Ran Kafri & Kenichi Okamoto

The primary goal of the Student Seminar Courses (MMG1015Y° and MMG1017H°) is to provide practical experience and guidance in the clear and concise oral communication of research results to an audience of educated, though not specialist peers. This is an essential skill for anyone intending to seek a career in scientific research. Completion of this course is mandatory for all graduate students in the program. A secondary goal of the series is to give each student a broad knowledge of all aspects of research undertaken in the Department of Molecular Genetics. At any oral examination, a student may be asked to demonstrate some familiarity with research in the Department not necessarily closely related to their own. Attendance at the Student Seminars is the major means of acquiring this knowledge. Students should make every effort to attend all seminars. Student supervisors are also expected to attend the Student Seminars on a regular basis. Since an interactive audience is essential for the success of this series, students and faculty are also expected to ask questions. In order to promote the participation of students beyond the seminar presentations themselves, Ph.D. students enrolled in MMG1017H° participate in student evaluations following the presentations.

Speaking Requirements

Speaking Requirements - All Graduate Students

All graduate students in the Molecular Genetics program must enroll in MMG1015Y in which they are required to give two 15 minute seminars. Both seminars will be scheduled during the second year of enrollment. The final grade in MMG1015 will consist of the average grade of the two seminar presentations (minus any deductions for poor attendance as described in detail in the “Attendance at Student Seminars” section below). The first seminar presentation during the fall term (October - November) is in front of a small group of students and professors. The second seminar will be presented within the forum of “Field Specific Student-Seminars”. Students will present in front of faculty and peers whose primary research area falls within the same research field. These seminars will take place in the winter (January to May). When tabulating the mark for MMG1015, greater weight is given to the second seminar if there has been a notable improvement relative to the first seminar. 

Speaking Requirements - Ph.D. Students

In addition to MMG1015, Ph.D. students must fulfill the course requirements for MMG1017, which includes presentation of one 20 minute seminar. The final grade in MMG1017 is the average of a student’s seminar mark (minus any letter grade deduction due to poor attendance of the student seminar sessions - see “Attendance at Student Seminars” section below for more details) and the topic course mark (see Department website for list of topics offered). In addition, MMG1017H students must evaluate 30 student seminars before MMG1017 is considered complete.

IMPORTANT: Presenting a 20 minute seminar in the MMG1017 course is a mandatory requirement to obtain a Ph.D. in the Department and it is important that students not procrastinate in scheduling it. In May/June of each year the Graduate Program Administrator notifies those students who will be automatically scheduled to give their MMG1017 seminar the following year. These are the most senior students who have not yet completed their speaking requirement. In addition, the remaining Ph.D. candidates are sent an e-mail to their UTOR address asking if they would like to present a seminar the following fall. If there is any chance a student will graduate from the program during the following year it is very important that he/she respond to the annual May/June survey to ensure that the seminar is scheduled appropriately. It is exceedingly difficult to accommodate exceptions later in the year.

Attendance at Student Seminars

Students enrolled in both MMG1015 and MMG1017 are encouraged to attend all student seminar sessions, the number of which varies from year to year but is typically around 40. Remember, MMG1015 and MMG1017 are Graduate Courses and as such, your attendance is mandatory.

  • Attending less than 70% of the student seminar sessions over the academic year will result in a one-letter-mark deduction from your seminar mark (e.g., if you were given an “A” for your seminar/s, you will get an “A-“).
  • Attending less than 50% of the student seminar sessions over the academic year will result in a two-letter-mark deduction from your seminar mark (e.g., if you were given an “A” for your seminar/s, you will get a “B+”).
  • Attending less than 30% of the student seminar sessions over the academic year will result in a two-letter-mark deduction from your seminar mark. In addition, the Department will require you to attend an extra year of seminars before your MMG1015 or MMG1017 grades are issued on ROSI.
  • These mark deductions are cumulative. For example, if you attend 55% of the sessions one academic year, and 67% the next while still enrolled in MMG1017, two letter grades will be deducted from your seminar mark.

The large number of seminars necessary to meet the minimum attendance requirement reflects the importance the Department places on training students in the skill of communicating research results and in receiving a comprehensive education in the broader field of Molecular Genetics. 

Only members of the University of Toronto community (students, PDFs, technicians, research associates, and faculty) are welcome to attend the student presentations. As it is extremely rude and disruptive for people to enter late and/or leave early, please remain for the entire session.

Attendance at student seminars is monitored by scanning student ID cards at the entrance to the seminar room. Each student should bring his/her card to each seminar. When a student arrives without a card he/she should wait until an opportune moment, (after the line has cleared), to enter his/her name into the computer. Late students should wait until the end of the question period for card scanning.

Student Seminar Evaluations   

Following the seminar presentations, the faculty members in attendance will remain in the seminar room to critique and grade each seminar speaker.  This feedback is intended to help presenters identify their strong and weak points, to improve future seminars and to provide feedback on the research project.

MMG1017H students will also participate in the evaluation process that follows the student presentations. Each Ph.D. student must evaluate 30 or more student seminars as a requirement of MMG1017H. Evaluation forms must be handed in to the Course Coordinators at the conclusion of the seminar evaluation phase. Forms abandoned beforehand (for example after seminar presentations but before evaluation phase) will be considered invalid and discarded. A form must be handed in by the person who filled it out to be considered valid. If an MMG1017H student does not complete the evaluation duties in an assigned year, he/she must repeat the whole exercise in full the following year before an MMG1017 mark will be released. Students not enrolled in MMG1017H are not required to fill out the seminar evaluation form.

Critiquing Guidelines

In general, ‘public’ questions after each presentation should focus on scientific content and clarification of details in the presentation. The post-seminar period is intended for follow-up on scientific questions and for constructive criticism in regards to presentation skills. Refrain from non-productive and overly negative comments.

Completion of Student Seminars

First, students are enrolled in MMG1017 only upon completion of MMG1015 AND passing their reclassification exam. Students admitted directly into the PhD program are automatically enrolled in MMG1017 upon first registration, but will begin meeting the requirements of this course after completion of MMG1015 AND passing their qualification exam.

Second, the Department considers your MMG1017 enrolment complete, (at which time you will no longer be obliged to attend student seminars for those students taking MMG1017), when all of the items below have been completed:

1. You have completed your MMG1017 student seminar.

2. You have completed your final topic course.

3. You have completed a total of 30 student seminar evaluations or more while enrolled in MMG1017. To simplify administration, it would be ideal if the students enrolled in MMG1017 would choose a year in which to evaluate the requisite 30 seminars, but this is only a guideline, not an established procedure.

4. You have fulfilled the attendance requirements for student seminars for all previous years, and for the final year in which you are enrolled in MMG1017 until the beginning of the MMG1015 student seminars, which typically start sometime between December to February depending on class sizes.

5. You are in good standing with SGS.

6. You have no outstanding obligations that have resulted from lapses in attendance at student seminars for previous academic years.