MCS GSAC Meeting Minutes
October 12, 2001

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October 12, 2001

In Attendance:
Ed Horsey (Biological Sciences)
Ayse Celil (Biological Sciences)
Arindam Chowdhury (Chemistry)
Kathryn Trapp (Mathematical Sciences)
Abhijit Brahme (Physics)
Marc Fasnacht (Physics)
David Owen (MCS Dean's Office)
Katya Malkin (MCS Dean's Office)

2000 GSAC Minutes Archive

This year's minutes:

January 23, 2001

February 13, 2001

April 17, 2001

The group has two new members for the Fall 2001 semester, Ed Horsey from Biological Sciences and Abraham Flaxman from Mathematical Sciences.

Katya will make some updates to the GSAC web page, including the new membership roster and a list of meeting dates on the front page. If anyone has additional suggestions for updates or changes to the web page, please contact Katya (x8-3750, or

This semester's GSAC meetings will be held from 9:00 - 10:30 in DH 1322 on the following dates:

November 2
November 30
Breakfast will be provided.


1. Social Event/Poster Session
Notes on last year's poster session/social event were distributed along with menus and the flyers that were used to advertise. The following additional suggestions were made for this year's event:

  • Give one prize per department, determined by a drawing
  • Try to get a more even distribution of poster presenters from the four departments
A subcommittee made up of one representative from each department was formed to plan the details for this year's event, to be held on Friday, February 1, 2002.

Biological Sciences   Ed Horsey
Chemistry   Pushan Chowdhury
Mathematical Sciences   Kate Trapp
Physics   Abhijit Brahme

2. Policy on Ombudspersons
The draft policy on ombudspersons for graduate affairs that was generated last semester was distributed. The decision was made to raise this issue periodically within each department and decide whether an ombudsperson is needed, as some departments currently feel the need to have one while others do not. This issue was raised at a department heads' meeting last spring awaits feedback from three department faculties.

Members from each department were asked to consult with other students in their departments to get feedback about whether or not there is a need for an ombudsperson. This feedback can be used to elicit a response from the faculty in each department.

Currently Biological Sciences and Chemistry have ombudspeople, while Mathematical Sciences and Physics do not.

If adequate feedback from departments is received promptly, it will be taken to college council for final approval. The next college council meeting is on December 6.

3. Proposed Database of Information for Prospective and Current Students
Minutes from the April 17, 2000 meeting on this topic were reviewed. The issue of having departments provide information to the GSAC on such issues as time to complete degree, life after receiving a CMU degree, graduate degree requirements, faculty publishing and grant support, and graduate student support, was discussed at a department heads' meeting last spring and met some resistance. All departments were reluctant to release this information in a format that they would not have control over. The decision was made that if a department wants to make this information available, it will be posted on the departmental web site. The GSAC site will have links to the specific departmental pages as they are posted.

GSAC members were asked to look at their departmental web sites and see which pages pertaining to this information are currently available. Also, consider making suggestions to the person that maintains your department's site. For example, a page describing career paths of recent graduate students would be a good idea. Members should bring a status report for their department's web site to the next meeting.

4. College-Wide Career Development Seminars
Last semester, GSAC began discussing the possibility of holding a college-wide career development seminar (or series of seminars), in particular to present students with career options outside of academia. It was decided that a one-day or half-day seminar during the spring semester featuring local scientists would be the best way to start. A representative set of categories of non-academic careers in science should be presented.

David will consult with MCS Career Consultant Renee Starek to see if this type of event would complement anything that she is planning for the spring semester or if we could work with her to find contacts.

A modest honorarium should be provided to each speaker and bagels and coffee served at the event. It might also be possible to get funding from GSA for this type of event. Combining the informational aspect of this type of seminar with a recruiting effort on the part of visiting companies might also be a good idea and in particular could help to reduce costs. Another option that might increase the availability of funding would be to include undergraduates.

Members were asked to poll students in their departments to see how much interest there is in this type of event. They should also feel free to suggest specific companies or speakers that they would like to meet with. NIST Labs and Rand Think-Tank were suggested.


1. Invitation to Rick McCullough
David will invite the new Dean, Rick McCullough to one of this semester's GSAC meetings in order to get his input on graduate education and programs.

2. Access to Information About Fellowships for Graduate Students
The group was asked to evaluate whether current resources for obtaining information about fellowships and grants available to graduate students is adequate, for example, the search engine at The group thought that it would be helpful to have a centralized list and will check with their departments to see what information is currently available.

3. Publicity - MCS Graduate Bulletin Board
Please let Katya know about any events for graduate students in MCS or recognition for specific students that you would like to publicize. The Graduate Times is an excellent place to publish this sort of information. We can also work with Nancy Klancher, who maintains the graduate student information page to include relevant MCS information. Hard copies of published information will be posted in the graduate bulletin board in the DH 1300 corridor.