Expectations of PSU Veterinary Entomology Laboratory Faculty and Students

Thinking of joining the lab? Read through the expectations for new graduate students. We all strive to create a fun, relaxing atmosphere where we can all learn, make memories, and conduct meaningful research. However, in order to do that we need to have open lines of communication and clear expectations. 

HEre are some specific laboratory expectations for graduate students: 

1.   Graduate school is a special educational opportunity for students to prepare for professional employment, not a continuation of the undergraduate educational structure and expectations, i.e., not limited to coursework during semesters with free time between semesters.  It is intended to be challenging, stimulating, interesting, rewarding, and enjoyable. Graduate students are expected to fulfill educational requirements, but also engage in professional service and excellence in research.

2.   Faculty members invest considerable time and resources to educate graduate students with the expectation that students defer competing activities that cause excessive absenteeism or substandard performance, e.g., social events, recreational travel, and hobbies, and concentrate on their learning experiences. If there are special circumstances, the student should discuss this with the faculty member prior to engaging in graduate study. Dr. Machtinger completed her PhD while competing nationally in equestrian events. It is possible with good time management skills and accountability. Communication is the key!

3.   Graduate students are expected to orient their time and effort around educational opportunities, including coursework, student organizations, scientific meetings, work travel, personal growth and development, e.g., improving writing and verbal communication skills.  Both M.S. and Ph.D. students are expected to fully participate in departmental activities, including seminars and other educational and social events.

4.   Requirements for graduate acceptance with the Veterinary Entomology Laboratory include:

  • Maintain a time and attendance log that lists daily activities and accomplishments to be reviewed periodically with the supervisor.
  • Prepare a written quarterly report of work accomplishments, priorities, and activities.
  • Provide a mutually agreed on weekly work schedule prior to the beginning of each semester.
  • Obtain approval in advance for changes in the established work schedule.
  • Obtain approval in advance of leave
  • Notify the supervisor of illness or emergencies that will result in the employee being absent.
  • Work to replace hours lost to sick or emergency leave within three months after returning to work.

5.   Graduate Assistantship at  ½-time with no paid leave benefits but offers a medical insurance plan.  Based on the successful performance of required duties, the supervisor will approve compensatory time not to exceed 1 week of vacation per year.  Additional hours up to 7 days (56 hours) must be accrued before compensatory time is requested by working, not by associated activities, e.g., travel to meetings, overnight stays, non-work time at the office, seminars, course preparation and study, and meals. Graduate Assistants can be absent during standard holidays and other leave provided for university employees.  No additional paid vacation time will be granted. Weekend, holiday, and overnight work might be required based on the project.  

6.   Student performance is evaluated at the end of every semester.  Performance of faculty members is evaluated annually.  If expectations have not been met, a student or faculty member will develop a personal plan for improvement and will have an additional semester to improve or alternative arrangements will need to be addressed.

7.   Personal activities are acceptable in the work environment but must not be disruptive and do not constitute work time, e.g. preparing for classes and examinations, making personal travel arrangements, visiting with colleagues and family members, and personal telephone calls.

8.  Funding for graduate students may be provided by grants that have strict accountability for work to be performed. Examples include conducting research, preparing Extension and other educational materials, preparing and presenting talks, participating in professional meetings, conducting and documenting individual projects, providing website content, and similar work designed to educate the student.

9.  Graduate students supported by assistantships are assigned research, Extension and education projects to complete as part of their educational experience. The graduate students are credited with developing, conducting and documenting these projects as evidence of their capabilities. This strengthens employment applications and associated letters of support.

10. Graduate students are provided with appropriate office space, computer support and other benefits of a typical professional work environment.

11. These expectations of do not replace or modify Penn State University guidelines or those of the Department of Entomology, rather they are specific to the Veterinary Entomology Laboratory.  Exceptions to these terms may be granted by the supervisor on a case by case basis. If you are unsure, the best course of action is always to ask!