Each student in the Dual-Titled PhD program is required to undertake a research-training project outside their home discipline. Research rotations may be conducted with an astrobiology research group at UW or at another institution, and scheduling the Research Rotation during summer quarter is strongly recommended. At the end of the rotation, the student will submit an oral presentation of what was done during their rotation project.

Students should begin planning their research rotation as soon as possible (no later than the end of their second year of Doctoral study or first year of Master’s). Proposals for research rotations must be submitted for approval to the Astrobiology Program Steering Committee via the Astrobiology Program Administrator. Approval decisions will be based on the project being both sufficiently broadening and relevant to the student’s research interests. In particular, students in the physical sciences are encouraged to do their rotation in the biological sciences, and vice-versa.

Completion of the project by the end of the third year (or second year for Masters-level students) is strongly encouraged. If the intended project becomes impossible, or if significant changes must be made for any reason, then the changes should be submitted to the research rotation supervisor for approval as soon as possible. If it is not possible for the student to give an oral presentation on their completed project, it may be possible to substitute a written report.

During their rotations, students are required to enroll in a minimum of 3 credits of ASTBIO 600, “Research Rotation,” with the Astrobiology Program faculty member who will be supervising their research, lab work, and/or field work. If the student opts to pursue an external rotation (e.g., in a lab outside of the university) the student still must (1) identify a current faculty member who will be responsible for monitoring his/her progress during the time away and (2) enroll in ASTBIO 600 with that person.

Students should contact the Astrobiology Program Administrator if they need the ASTBIO 600 faculty code when registering.

Proposing And Completing Your Rotation


As soon as reasonably possible (by the end of the second year for Doctoral students is suggested), each student should identify a potential research rotation project and work with their advisor and the person who will be supervising their rotation work to develop a proposal for their plan.

This proposal (maximum of 2 pages long) will need to be submitted for approval to Steering Committee and should include the following information:

  • Planned research project and any needed preparations (such as background reading or training)
  • Rationale for the project (relevance to thesis direction, relevance to AB)
  • Justification  that the research project is sufficiently beyond the student’s major field to provide breadth
  • Planned dates for the rotation
  • Detailed budget of any costs for the rotation (including air transportation, lodging, lab expenses, software, etc.) as well as a source of funds (The Astrobiology Program may have funds available to help with this)
  • Concurrence of student’s advisor and rotation supervisor


When ready, the proposal should be sent to the Steering Committee’s Research Rotation Approver (currently Associate Professor Rory Barnes in Astronomy), the interim Astrobiology Program Director Professor Jodi Young for budget approval and the Astrobiology Program Administrator for records retention.  The Research Rotation Approver will verify the astrobiological relevance of the planned project and that it is sufficiently outside of the student’s discipline and the Program Director will review and provide approval for the use of any requested funds or reimbursements.


Once approved, students may proceed with making all necessary travel arrangements with the program administrator.  For approved expenses, which were included in the proposal’s budget, the students will generally be expected to make the purchase first and then seek reimbursement after completion of the rotation. If necessary some travel expenses may be coordinated and paid for in advance by the Astrobiology Program.

Please see the link below for non-reimbursable items.



The project will be considered complete when the Rotation Oral Presentation has been given, and the slides of the presentation (in PDF format) are submitted to the Program Administrator for archiving.

Rotation Oral Presentation: This should be an illustrated talk about 20-30 minutes long presented during the weekly Astrobiology seminar, in the form of a scientific conference talk, outlining:

  • What you did
  • Why it is astrobiologically important
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Scientific conclusions
  • What new skills, techniques and knowledge you actually acquired by doing it
  • If it is a cognate project to your PhD project, how it complemented your main research and how it differed

You should be prepared to answer questions from people outside your discipline and present the talk using as little disciplinary jargon as possible so it is understandable to all members of the Astrobiology community.

Rotation Report: If the student cannot schedule an Oral Presentation, then the submission of a Rotation Report to the AB Steering Committee, in lieu of the Oral Presentation, will be allowed:

This should be a 3-4 page document submitted to the Steering Committee via the Program Administrator after the research is completed, written in the form of a brief scientific paper, outlining the same topics given for the Oral Presentation above. Your advisor and /or rotation supervisor should see your report and approve it before submission.

Publications Resulting from Research Rotation

In the event that your research rotation yields or contributes to a publication please ensure that you properly cite the University of Washington Astrobiology Program as being a source of funding for that work.