Cornell's Field of Genetics and Development encompasses a wide range of research areas in molecular genetics of developmental and cellular processes as well as population and evolutionary genetics (see Faculty interests). New graduate students are introduced to specific research programs by faculty members during their first semester. In addition, current graduate students and postdoctoral fellows discuss their research progress in weekly seminars.
During the first semester, new graduate students pick three laboratories they might want to work in and arrange to spend 2-month rotation period in each. Students generally start rotations in mid-October of their first year and settle into a laboratory for their thesis research at the beginning of their first summer. Rotations provide valuable exposure to different research goals, styles and approaches, and are therefore strongly encouraged. However, they are not a formal requirement.