CLIMB-HI Program Details

The CLIMB-HI program is a professional development program designed to mentor PhD students and introduce them to the skills they will need as professional scientists. It is a 2-year program that students complete in addition to other graduate program requirements.



We expect you to attend all sessions and come prepared to share your writing progress. If for any reason you cannot attend a session, please let the Instructor ( know prior to the session.

CLIMB scholars participate in weekly workshops during the first 2 years of their PhD program. These workshops are designed to help students get a successful start to graduate school and eventually secure funding by submitting a training grant. The workshops are led by the CLIMB leadership, but peer-reviewing and mentoring are essential components as well.

The Professional Development Catalyst Series

Overview: The PDCS workshops, offered to 1st year PhD graduate students enrolled in CLIMB HI, IMSD, iSEED, provides guidelines to successfully transition to graduate school and teaches skills to become successful scientists.

Objectives: The PDCS workshop is provides practical skills for how to choose a mentor, effective study habits, how to give a scientific presentation, networking, and how to create an Individualized Development Plan (IDP).

Structure: PDCS participants will attend a workshop every week (~90min) throughout the Fall semester. The PDCS topics are informational and instructive, and are open to discussion and dialogue.

Expectation:  We expect you to attend all sessions and actively participate in the workshop. If for any reason you cannot attend a session, please let the facilitator ( know prior to the session.

Session (Fall: Sept-Dec) Topic for the Professional Development Catalyst Series
Week 1

Adapting to learning in graduate school

A. Discussion about adapting to learning in graduate school

B. Individual Development Plans, excelling in rotations

Week 2

Choosing a mentor

A. 10-minute quiz: Thinking about mentoring

B. Lecture and Discussion about choosing a mentor

Week 3

A guide to oral presentations

A. 3-minute thesis presentations and example

B. Know your audience: Tips for scientific presentations and advice using PowerPoint

C. How to improve your data presentation skills; tips on graph formatting, ethical data representation, and how to improve reader comphrehension

Week 4

Understanding Myers-Briggs personality types

Dr. Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan (Assistant Professor, CLIMB Associate Director)

A. Introduction to Myers-Briggs personality types

B. Discussion about effectively communicating with others

Week 5

Stress and anxiety in graduate school

A. How to identify, manage and channel stress effectively

B. Imposter syndrome worksheet and discussion

Week 6

Technique workshop - TBD

Presentation of technical/method lecture by a speaker nominated by the students

Week 7

Research ethics

Dr. Steven Fliesler (UB Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Ophthalmology)

Week 8

The importance of networking

Ed Brodka (Career Counselor/Group Learning Coordinator at UB Career Services)

Week 9

Finding, reading and organizing scientific papers

A. Tips for finding papers and reading them

B. Tools for organizing papers

Week 10

Time management

A. Discussion about ways to manage time wisely

Research Communication Workshop

Spring Semester 1st Year

At these workshops CLIMB scholars will practice peer-reviewing each other’s manuscripts, presentations, reports, and abstracts. Participants will learn how to develop hypothesis-driven questions.

Session (Spring: Jan-May) Topics: Make an Impact from Hypothesis to Publication
Week 1 Welcome and the beginnings of a research project
Week 2 Student presentations: background, research question, and hypothesis
Week 3 Crafting specific aims
Week 4 Student presentations: translating a hypothesis into specific aims
Week 5 Student presentations: translating a hypothesis into specific aims
Week 6 Best practices in writing an abstract
Week 7 No meeting (spring break)
Week 8 Student presentations: from specific aims to experimental techniques
Week 9 Student presentations: from specific aims to experimental techniques
Week 10 Preparing poster presentations
Week 11 Final student presentations
Week 12 Final student presentations

Scientific Communication for Success

Fall & Spring Semester, 2nd Year

This workshop is focused on research proposal writing. Students will be guided through the process of hypothesis-driven proposal development leading to completion of an NRSA-type research grant that could be submitted for funding. Students will be introduced to the grant review process as well as to responding to manuscript reviews. Fellowship applications will be reviewed at mock study sections.

Session (Fall: Sept-Dec) Topic: Preparing Fundable Grant Proposals
Week 1

Preparing fundable proposals: Getting started

A. Course organization

a. Plans for collaborative learning and mini-learning communities (MLC)

b. 6 sentences to begin a proposal


Background - Question - Hypothesis - Specific Aims - Innovation - Significance


B. Assignment for next session:

            - Write a draft 6 sentences of your research project and turn in a copy 

Week 2

Preparing fundable proposals: Grantsmanship

A.    Developing cleaer sentences and paragaphs

 a. Powerpoint presentation and discussion

B. Review of each student's draft 6 sentences

C.    Assignment for next session:

 - Revise your 6 sentences and turn in a copy

Week 3

From 6 sentences to Specific Aims

         A. Developing specific aims from 6 sentences

                     a. Powerpoint and discussion

         B. Assignment for next session: 

                     - Transform your 6 sentences into specific aims and turn in a copy

Week 4


          A. Developing the signficance section

                     a. Powerpoint and discussion

          B. Assignment for next session:

                     - Write the sigfinace section for your research project and turin in a copy

Week 5


          A. Developing the innovation section

                     a. Powerpoint and discussion 

          B. Assignment for next session:

                     - Write the innovation section for your research project and turn in a copy

Week 6

Student presentations

Each student will present their refined 5-8 minute presentation of their title, hypothesis, research question, specific aims, significance, and innovation.

Advanced Writing for Excellence in Research Communication

3rd Year and Beyond

This workshop is intended for all CLIMB, IMSD and iSEED scholars on the 3rd year of training or above preparing for fellowship/grant application.  This workshop is designed to enhance your writing skills through guided peer review and structured lectures regarding the different components of the Research Strategy component of various awards.  During each session, there will be time allotted for establishing writing goals, sharing accomplishments, peer review and learning about writing in the sciences. You will work on your writing project outside of class and provide a sample for the class two days prior to the scheduled session. Depending on your writing project, a set of accomplishments are expected to be obtained to meet your writing goals (see table below).

Session (Spring: Jan-May) Topics on the Art of Publication and Preparing Grants    
  Project Accomplishment Presentation    
Week 1 Introduction to workshop, planning for the semester, FOA discussion      
Week 2

Presentation on B+C Forms

Peer review of upgraded specific aims

Week 3

Presentation on research strategy (significance, preliminary data, approach)

Discussion of section B+C forms

Week 4

Presentation on section D+E forms

Peer review of research significance

Week 5 Discussion of section C + D with peer review of updated significance with preliminary data Yes    
Week 6 Peer review of approach Yes    
Week 7 Peer review of approach Yes