Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Programs

Biology Graduate Student Association (BGSA)


The mission of the BGSA is assist the graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences and serve as an important communication link between the graduate students, the faculty and the department chair.

What is the BGSA? 

The BGSA is a student organization that serves to promote a sense of community among graduate students, assist with teaching responsibilities, plan an annual research symposium and address student needs. All Biological Sciences graduate students are part of the BGSA. Students elect a president and vice president that lead the association and serve as representatives of the student body.

Promoting a sense of community

Graduate school can be challenging and the BGSA is here to help! Building a network of people in graduate school is essential for not only success in the program but also for a successful career as a scientist. The contacts and friends you will make are invaluable. Therefore, the BGSA organizes several events throughout the year that provide opportunities for students to get to know each other better as well as develop relationships with the department faculty.

Assisting with teaching responsibilities

All graduate students are required to fulfill at least one semester as a teaching assistant. Since not all students have prior teaching experience the transition into the role of TA, along with research and coursework responsibilities, can be difficult. The BGSA can help facilitate this transition by connecting new students with more experiences TA's to learn how to best be an excellent teaching assistant. Additionally, the BGSA is responsible for setting up office hours for the undergraduate biology help center.

Planning a research symposium

Every fall semester the BGSA organizes the Biology Graduate Research Symposium (BGRS). This is an event where students have the opportunity to practice their presentation skills and receive construction feedback from their peers and the department faculty. First year students assist with organizing the symposium while all other students present posters unless selected to give an oral presentation. A keynote address is given by a successful research scientist and an awards ceremony is held to recognize quality work in the oral and poster presentations, as well as recognizing excellence in teaching for a selected teaching assistant.

Addressing student needs

One of the most important functions of the BGSA is to serve as a platform for addressing the needs of the student body with the department. Both the BGSA president and vice president serve as contacts for questions and concerns regarding any graduate related issues.

BGSA Handbook (pdf)

Last Updated: 6/27/22