Upon Arrival at Iowa State


Orientation for Fall 2017

Below is information on BCB Program Orientation activities, information on planned joint activities with other Interdepartmental Graduate Programs at Iowa State, and some information on university wide orientation activities, systems and requirements.

Some of the activities planned for the multi-interdepartmental graduate program activities may or may not be appropriate for you, based on your academic background.  As activities for these orientations are formalized, we can have conversations about what works best for you.

Also below is information on University systems you need to be aware of, and actions you need to take to get paid, get registered for classes, etc.  Trish is willing to help you.  BCB students are also great resources to contact and talk with to get up to speed.  Don't hesitate to reach out to BCBers for assistance ! Collaborations among students are a strength of our program !

We have firmed up these activities as of August 17, 2017 !!

BCB Program Orientation

Monday, August 14

  • 11:30 to 1:30; Location: 2034 MBB; Function: Lunch with all new students and BCB program coordinator, Trish Stauble.  Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Board may attend as well to introduce the GSO…
  • 5 to 7 p.m.; Location: 1102 MBB; Function: Dinner with current BCB students…

Tuesday, August 15

We want you to be safe as you work in labs.  Environmental Health and Safety provides training for you to work safely.  A lab safety orientation will provide you with an overview of their training offerings as well as specific information on:

  • Fire Safety and Extinguisher Training;
  • hands-on demonstrations of Safety Issues in the Lab;
  • Biological and Radiation Safety Awareness; and
  • handling laboratory waste

Please register for the lab safety orientation on Tuesday, August 15.  It will be held from:

  • 8:30 to 12:30; Location: Room 1230, Environmental Health &Safety (EH&S) Services Building, 2408 Wanda Daley Drive; Function: Laboratory Safety Orientation - offered to incoming graduate students who will be working in laboratories.

Register at Learn@ISU

  • Go to Login
  • Click on Schedule
  • Go to August
  • Choose Tuesday, August 15

Before you join a wet lab, you may need these four courses through EH&S (Check with your faculty mentor):

  • Laboratory Safety: Core Concepts (about 1 hour).
  • Fire Safety and Extinguisher Training (take the on-line version)
  • NIH Guidelines
  • Biological Risk Assessment for Researchers (about 30 minutes)

Wednesday, August 16

Although these activities are also listed in the multi-program events, they are very useful resources for BCB students…hope you will take part:

Thursday, August 17

  • 9 to noon, 1102 MBB -- Function: Meeting with Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, chair of BCB, to discuss your PhD program curriculum and policies; Alvin Chon and Ashley Zhou, BCB Current Students, were present to discuss topics covered in BCB 567, 568 and Stat 430 topics. After their introductory remarks about the content of the courses and what is expected by the instructors, they met with new students individually to discuss the best set of preparatory courses to take for their particular background preparation.
  • Here is information presented in the session:

Friday, August 18, 2017 - All day event in the Molecular Biology Building

Interdepartmental Graduate students from several majors will participate in this all day event in the Molecular Biology Building.  Information next to the presenter's name is his/her Department. In parenthesis are the interdepartmental Graduate programs they participate in.

BCB = Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

GENET = Interdepartmental Genetics and Genomics

MCDB = Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

Micro = Microbiology

NEURO = Neuroscience

EEB = Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

IPB = Interdepartmental Plant Biology

  • 8:30 a.m. Continental breakfast in 1102 Molecular Biology
  • 8:30 a.m. GPSS welcome; invitation to participate, Vivek Lawana, President; 1102 Molecular Biology
  • 9:00 a.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Tom Peterson, Genetics Development and Cell Biology: "Thinking like a Graduate Student--Leaving the Undergraduate Life Behind
  • 9:45 a.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Christopher Tuggle, Animal Science (IG2, BCB, MCDB, ImBIO)
  • 9:45 a.m. 1424 Molecular Biology: Diane Bassham, Genetics Development and Cell Biology (IG2, BCB, MCDB, Plant Biology). Ribosome degradation by autophagy-like pathways.
  • 9:45 a.m. 1428 Molecular Biology: Gunnar Mair, Biomedical Sciences (new) "Post-transcriptional gene regulation during Plasmodium development and transmission."
  • 9:45 a.m. 4034 Molecular Biology: Eric Underbakke, BBMB (Neuro, BCB) Macromolecular structure and function, mass spectrometry, signal transduction.

  • 10:30 a.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Baoyu (Stone) Chen, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (MCDB, NEURO). Biochemical mechanisms by which cells control the actin cytoskeleton to drive diverse normal and disease-related processes.
  • 10:30 a.m. 1424 Molecular Biology: Nicole Valenzuela, EEOB (IG2, BCB, EEB). Research projects: Evolution of turtle sex determination (developmental biology, transcriptomics, epigenomics [DNA methylation, others), Chromosome and genome evolution (molecular cytogenetics, genome sequencing, comparative genome evolution), evolution of dosage compensation (transcriptomics, epigenomics).
  • 10:30 a.m. 1428 Molecular Biology: Oskar Siemianowski for the Cademartiri Lab (plant biology, genetics, bioinformatics): "Beyond Petri Dishes and Greenhouses: Unraveling Plant Environment Interactions Towards Quantitative Plant Science."
  • 10:30 a.m. 4034 Molecular Biology:  Steven Howell, Genetics Development and Cell Biology (IG2, Plant Biology).  Plant molecular biology :The Unfolded protein response and how plants deal with stress."

  • 11:15 a.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Ravi Singh, Biomedical Sciences (IG2, BCB, NEURO). Research Topic: Mechanism of splicing regulation and RNA-protein interactions in genetic diseases. Drug discovery and oligonucleotide based therapy of genetic diseases. More information could be found on my website.
  • 11:15 a.m. 1424 Molecular Biology: Gustavo MacIntosh, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (genetics, plant biology, BCB, MCDB). "Ribosomal RNA degradation in Arabisdopsis thaliana and Drosophila melanogaster."
  • 11:15 a.m. 1428 Molecular Biology: Michael Cho, Biomedical Sciences (Genetics and Genomics, Microbiology, MCDB, BBMB, Immunobiology). "Development of vaccines against HIV-1 and other antigenically variable viruses."
  • 11:15 a.m. 4034 Molecular Biology:

  • Noon -- Lunch, Atrium, Molecular Biology Building (Graduate Student mentors invited to luncheon)
  • Noon to 2:00 p.m. -- Poster session, Atrium, Molecular Biology Building

  • 2:00 p.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Mathew Ellinwood, Animal Science (genetics, neuro and MCDB). Lysosomal storage diseases. Companion animal research.
  • 2:00 p.m. 1424 Molecular Biology:  Dennis Lavrov, Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (genetics and genomics, BCB, MCDB, EEOB).  Evolution of major groups of animals and their genomes including spoonges, corals, and comb jellies.
  • 2:00 p.m. 1428 Molecular Biology:
  • 2:00 p.m. 4034 Molecular Biology: Reuben Peters, Biochemisty Biophysics and Molecular Biology. The Peters group studies diterpenoid natural products, focusing not only on their biosynthesis but also physiological roles. These include the gibberellin plant hormones, which also are produced by plant-associated bacteria that we are actively investigating. Plants such the important cereal crop rice produce a wide variety of other diterpenoids that serve various ecological roles, including acting as antibiotics against microbial pathogens, providing another area of study in our lab. In addition, a number of diterpenoids from plants and fungi have pharmaceutical activity, and we investigate their biosynthesis as well.

  • 2:45 p.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Iddo Friedberg (BCB, Genetics and Genomics), "The more we know, the more we don't: how genomics is expanding scientific ignorance, and why that is a good thing".
  • 2:45 p.m. 1424 Molecular Biology: Walter Moss, BBMB, (Genetics and Genomics, BCB, MCDB) Research interests: Noncoding RNA discovery; RNA structure and function. The major goal of the Moss Lab is to identify RNA sequences with a high propensity to fold then deduce their structures, functions, and the roles played by structure: particularly as relates to human disease.
  • 2:45 p.m. 1428 Molecular Biology: Auriel Willette, Food Science and Human Nutrition (IG2, BCB, MCDB, GERON). Most of my lab focuses on the link between metabolic dysfunction caused by obesity and increased risk for neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease. We also conduct clinical trials looking at how decreasing obesity can improve cognition and both brain structure and function in people at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Students are able to pursue data analysis projects with existing brain imaging, cognition, and biological data in humans for rapid-fire publication, or clinical trials projects that focus more on cause and effect for metabolism and brain outcomes. A secondary interest is investigating the same data analysis questions but in pediatric cohorts, to see if metabolic dysfunction affects brain growth and cognition in the same way it impacts the brain at the other end of the lifespan.
  • 2:45 p.m. 4034 Molecular Biology:  Erik Vollbrecht, Genetics Development and Cell Biology (genetics and genomics, plant biology, MCDB).  Our research focuses on the developmental genetics of plant shape and architecture. We characterize molecular mechanisms of plant development and plant stress response, and develop and deploy genomics tools to advance those goals.

  • 3:30 p.m. 1420 Molecular Biology: Allen Miller, Plant Pathology and Microbiology (Genetics and Genomics, MCDB, BCB, Plant Biology, Micro, BBMB) "Viral Control of Host Translation"
  • 3:30 p.m. 1424 Molecular Biology: Adhithiya Manohar-Charle, senior toxicology graduate student in the Anumantha Kanthasamy laboratory, Biomedical Sciences. (TOX, Genetics and Genomics, MCDB, Neurobiology). Research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease and other protein misfolding neurodegenerative disorders including prion diseases and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is similar to Alzheimer's disease. His NIH-funded research program studies the role of environmental neurotoxic chemicals and other neurotoxic stress on pathogenesis of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • 3:30 p.m. 1428 Molecular Biology:
  • 3:30 p.m. 4034 Molecular Biology:


Please use the poster board next to your number as new students will have an information sheet. Posters maybe be set up after 11:00 a.m. in the Atrium of the Molecular Biology building. Poster Session is from noon to 2:00. You are encouraged to join the new students for lunch. Name tags will be available.

  • #1 Chris Tuggle Lab
  • #2 Baoyu (Stone) Chen Lab
  • #3 Zhijun Wu, Mathematics. "Evolution of social cooperation of microorganisms."
  • #4 Zhijun Wu, Mathematics. "Equilibrium distributions of populations of biological species on networks of social sites ."
  • #5 Matthew Ellinwood, Animal Science.
  • #6 Laura Schultz for the Maura McGrail Lab.
  • #7 Maira Almeida for the Essner and McGrail Labs.
  • #8 Jeff Haltom for the Maura McGrail Lab.
  • #9 Quinn Hanson for the Underbakke Lab. "Architecture and assembly of scaffolded signaling complexes in the post-synaptic density."
  • #10 Iddo Friedberg lab. "Bacteriocin detection with distributed biological sequence representation "
  • #11 Iddo Friedberg lab. "Expanding the Critical Assessment of Function Annotation with Experimental Data and Biocuration"
  • #12 Iddo Friedberg lab. "Reconstructing Ancestral Gene Blocks in Bacteria".
  • #13 Bob Jernigan's Lab - Kejue Jia and Dan Kool will present: Improving Discrimination between Neutral and Deleterious Mutants by Improving Sequence Matching".
  • #14 Allen Miller Lab "Toward resistance to maize lethal necrosis disease by disruption of cap-independent translation of maize chlorotic mottle virus RNA"
  • #15 Luke Bussier for Cathy Miller, VMPM lab.
  • #16 Stephen Howell Lab, GDCB, "An integrated analysis of gene expression during the unfolded protein response in maize seedlings."

Multi-Program Orientation Activities

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Introduction to Engineering – Packaging a Pringle (limited to 15 participants) (a P3 Bootcamp Activity, but open to those who register) REGISTER

Location: Roy J. Carver Co Lab – 1st Floor Conference Room (located just to the right of the lobby)
Presenter: Ted Heindel, Bergles Professor of Thermal Science in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and coPI of the Predictive Plant Phenomics Program

  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm - This session will discuss the differences and similarities between the various engineering disciplines. Students will be asked to use engineering problem solving skills to safely package a Pringle chip. Note that no equations or computations are necessary in this session.

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Introduction to Statistical Reasoning (limited to 30 participants) (a P3 Bootcamp Activity, but open to those who register) REGISTER

Location: 3105 Snedecor Hall
Presenter: Dan Nettleton, Laurence H. Baker Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor – Department of Statistics

  • 9 a.m. to 12 noon - This session will introduce students to the basics of statistical reasoning. Topics include experimental design, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, prediction methods, and R statistical software.

Introduction to Data Science (limited to 15 participants) REGISTER

Location: Roy J. Carver Co Lab – 1st Floor Conference Room (located just to the right of the lobby)

Presenter: Julie Dickerson, director of the NSF NRT Predictive Plant Phenomics Program and professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering

  • 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm - This session will cover the definition of the machine learning problem and the basic types of learning. Participants will work with two biological data sets with supervised and unsupervised learning methods.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Data Science in Action (limited to 15 participants) (a P3 Bootcamp Activity, but open to those who register) REGISTER

Location: Roy J. Carver Co Lab – 1st Floor Conference Room (located just to the right of the lobby)
Presenter: Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, professor in the departments of agronomy and genetics, development and cell biology and coPI of the Predictive Plant Phenomics Program.

This workshop will showcase data science in action. There are two sessions that build on one another:

  • 9 - 11:45 - includes research presentations and demonstrations about standards for data aggregation, computing on phenotypic descriptions, genomics orientation, and methods for gene expression analysis.
  • 2:30 to 3:30 - The afternoon session will include hands-on activities and exercises related to data science, data visualization, and machine learning.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

  • 9:00 a.m. throughout day, "Introduction to Wet Lab"

    • Wear long pants and solid shoes
    • If possible, complete lab safety training prior to this lab orientation
    • Location: 1320B Molecular Biology, all day (first floor, southeast corner)
  • 9:00 a.m., "Introduction to PCR". Instructor: Michael Baker, DNA Facility
  • 9:00 a.m. Graduate Student Assistants: Yang Yang (Bhattacharyya Lab), Blythe Schultz (Ross Lab), and Yosia Mugume (Bassham Lab).
  • 9:30 a.m., "PCR Exercise". Instructor: Michael Baker, DNA Facility
  • 11:00 a.m., "Pour gels". Instructor:
  • 12:00 noon, Lunch provided for participants. Location: 3034 Molecular Biology (take elevator to third floor, turn right out of the elevator and then turn right again) (lunch provided by Genetics and Genomics).
  • 1:00 p.m., load gels, prep under buffer". Instructor: Jeff Essner, GDCB
  • 1:00 p.m. Graduate Student Assistants: Stacey Barnes (Baum Lab), Jordan Baumbach (Bhattacharyya Lab), and Liz Carino (Miller Lab).
  • 1:30 p.m. to 3:30, "good lab and lab notebook habits". Graduate students available to talk with you about the experiment you have been working on and help you brush up on techniques used so far.
  • 4:00 p.m., "Review gels and discuss results." Instructor:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

  • 9 a.m. to noon, 1420 Molecular Biology, Introduction to Lab Culture - Aileen Keating, Animal Science
  • 9:30 a.m. to noon, 1420 Molecular Biology, "Introduction to Model Systems"
  • Presentations about plant, animal, microbial model systems. Strengths, weaknesses, limitations
  • Confirmed: Bai (Drosophilia), Essner (Zebrafish), Tuggle (Swine), A Singh (soybeans), Salas-Fernandez (sorghum), Yandeau-Nelson (maize) and Kelly (Arabidopsis)
  • 12 to 1 p.m., 1102 MBB, Lunch provided for above participants
  • 1:00 p.m. to 1:45, 1420 MBB, Heather Lewin, Science Librarian, ISU Library: digital resources
  • 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., 1420 MBB, Jennifer Johnson, GDCB Department: typical departmental IT resources
  • 3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., 1420 MBB, Levi Baber, Manager of LAS Bio-IT: College/University level IT research resources
  • 4:00 p.m. BBMB 404 test-out in Computer Room, southeast corner of atrium, Molecular Biology
  • 6:30 to 8:30, Interdepartmental Picnic at the Maple Shelter at Brookside Park in Ames on 6th Street, just off campus.
    • Contact Tes Posekany, posekany@iastate.edu and Bridget Janssen, bridgetj@iastate.edu with G3 - they will set up barbeque.
    • Burgers, brats provided along with condiments. Tea and Lemonade provided
    • Plates, napkins, silverware, cups provided.
    • We will be there even if its raining.
    • Map
    • Advanced students (not new students) encouraged to bring a dish to share, enough for 4 or 5 people

Thursday, August 17

1 to 5 -- Function: Michelle Paulsen, Northwestern University, to present a workshop on science communication, Seven Minutes of Communication  . Seven Minutes of Science – Communication Training (limited to 20 participants)  REGISTER

0308 Elings Hall (located by the elevator and central staircase on the lower level)

Presenters: Michelle Paulsen and Byron Stewart of the Research Communication Program at Northwestern University

Great research does not speak for itself. Conveying the scope and importance of one’s research is the only way to generate significant impact. As researchers, we tend towards data-centered presentations told in the language of our expertise. But, this jargon tends to alienate those in the sciences outside our fields and can obscure the goals and progress of our work from a broader audience. Using a proven model, participants will learn specific theatre-based techniques to mentally and physically prepare for a talk in front of a non-peer or peer audience, decreasing nervousness and stage-fright. They will learn techniques for planning a talk that will help to focus on the details that improve the clarity of their message, and learn to better connect with their audience.

Friday, August 18

8 to 5 -- All day Interdepartmental Graduate Student Event, MBB classrooms, Atrium...see details under BCB Activities...

Monday, August 21 and Tuesday, August 22

4:30 to 8:30 -- Genomics Data Carpentry Workshop

You are invited to attend a Genomics Data Carpentry Workshop on campus  (1306 Elings Hall) Monday, August 21 and Tuesday, August 22. The workshop runs from 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm each day. Dinner and refreshment breaks will be provided.

  • This Data Carpentry workshops is for any graduate student researcher who will have data they want to analyze, and no prior computational experience is required
  • The focus of this workshop will be on working with genomics data and data management and analysis for genomics research
  • We will cover project setup, connecting to and using cloud computing, the command line for sequence quality control and bioinformatics workflows, and R for data analysis and visualization. We will not be teaching any particular bioinformatics tools, but the foundational skills that will allow you to conduct any analysis and analyze the output of a genomics pipeline
  • Participants should bring their laptops and plan to participate actively
  • By the end of the workshop, learners should be able to more effectively manage and analyze data and be able to apply the tools and approaches directly to their ongoing research

Data Carpentry's aim is to teach researchers basic concepts, skills, and tools for working with data so that they can get more done in less time, and with less pain.

Enrollment is limited to the first 30 respondents. Attendance is required both days. Please REGISTER by August 7. Once we have our attendee list finalized, addition workshop schedule and preparation information will be provided.

Organizer: Adina Howe
Instructors: Adina Howe and Jin Choi
Who: This course is aimed at graduate students. No prior computational experience is required.

Requirements: Data Carpentry's teaching is hands-on, so participants are encouraged to bring in and use their own laptops to insure the proper setup of tools for an efficient workflow once you leave the workshop. (We will provide instructions on setting up the required software several days in advance, and the classroom will have computers with the software installed). There are no pre-requisites, and we will assume no prior knowledge about the tools. Participants are required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Predictive Plant Phenomics (P3) Boot Camp Activities

For those who are P3 Fellows, there will be an orientation program, called the P3 Boot Camp.  Some of the activities will be opened up to new interdepartmental graduate students.  We will announce these activities and the sign-ups for them as plans are formalized.

P3 Boot Camp activities begin the afternoon of Wednesday, August 9 and run through Friday, August 18. There will also be a Data Carpentry Workshop from 4:30 – 8:30 pm on August 21 and 22. The framework of the P3 Boot Camp is listed below.

P3 Program Boot Camp:

  • Wednesday, August 9

    • 2:00 – 5:00 pm – meet with P3 leadership team members
    • 6:00 – 8:00 pm – dinner with first year P3 Program students
  • Thursday, August 10
    • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm – Introduction to P3 Engineering
    • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – P3 Engineering in Action field tours and demonstrations
  • Friday, August 11
    • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm – Introduction to Statistical Reasoning
    • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Introduction to Data Science
  • Monday, August 14
    • 9:00 am – 11:45 pm – P3 Data Science in Action – includes hands on activities and demonstrations related to machine learning, data visualization, artificial intelligence
    • 12:00 – 1:00 pm – lunch with P3 Program affiliated faculty (Conflicts with Trish's lunch, but it is for P3 Fellows only and not open to everyone...Zach and Paul, you should go to the P3 luncheon with faculty!)
    • 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – continue with P3 Data Science in Action activities

(Carolyn will do an exercise in the afternoon session based on what she presents in the morning session.)

  • Tuesday, August 15

    • 10:00 am – 11:00 am – Field tour of Phenotyping Network at ISU Agronomy Farm
    • 12:00 – 5:00 pm – travel to Johnston, IA with industry visit to DuPont Pioneer includes tour of phenotyping lab and meet with some of their young scientists from various disciplines
  • Wednesday, August 16
    • 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – select from various modules of training opportunities (provided by all interdepartmental graduate degree programs)
    • 6:30 – 8:30 pm – optional dinner at Brookside Park with grad students from several interdepartmental grad programs
  • Thursday, August 17
    • Morning – orientation programming with your major degree program, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program
    • Afternoon – Seven Minutes of Science Communication - workshop
  • Friday, August 18
    • Faculty presentations and poster session
  • Monday, August 21 and Tuesday, August 22 – 4:30 – 8:30 pm – Data Carpentry Workshop (more details above)


ISU Activities -- International Students

Check in with ISSO

International Students must check in with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) upon arrival at Iowa State. If you arrive before August 14, you may be able to check in early with them. Sign up for an early check-in session here.

All other students should come to the International Student Orientation beginning on August 15. When available, that schedule will be here. That page also lists the documents required for Orientation Check In with ISSO including:

  • Iowa State University I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students)
  • Passport
  • Admission Letter (with your ISU Student ID Number)
  • The passports, and I-20/DS-2019 forms, for all members of your family who come to the U.S. with you
  • Address in Ames (this can be a temporary address, such as a hotel or the home of a friend or acquaintance with whom you are staying)
  • Name, phone number, e-mail and mailing address for a person we can contact if you have a personal emergency. Generally this would be a parent or other family member. If you have family in the U.S. who we could contact, please bring their name, phone number, e-mail and mailing address, too
  • Letter of Intent (for graduate students with assistantship)
  • Financial guarantee (if your educational expenses are to be paid by a government, agency or institution instead of by you or your family)

Obtain A Social Security Number

International students who do not yet have a Social Security number should wait at least two weeks after their arrival in the United States to apply for a Social Security number. Both IES and Payroll officials at ISU emphasize the importance of waiting this period of time. Applying too early will initiate paper processing of your Social Security number which can take up to five months. After two weeks of being in the United States, go to the Social Security Administration Office in Ames to apply for your number. The office is located on University Blvd, South of U.S. Highway 30, in front of the Holiday Inn. The Cy-Ride Brown Route stops in front of the building. You will need to take passport/visa, I-20, and documents showing that you will be receiving an assistantship or Fellowship (letter of intent).

Your SS number will be sent to the Tuition and Fees Office at ISU located in 0460 Beardshear Hall. They will email you when your card arrives and you can pick it up by showing them a picture ID like your ISU ID. Take the number to the Human Resources office in 3810 Beardshear Hall so your payroll processing can be completed. Also, give your number to the BCB office in 2014 Molecular Biology Building.

English Placement Test

Non-native English speakers must take the English Placement Test. Here is the website with all the details.

Students may not need to take the test if:

  • they received a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. degree from an English-speaking university in the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, or Australia;
  • they received a TOEFL score of 640 or above (paper-based TOEFL), 270 or above (computer-based TOEFL), or 105 and above (internet-based TOEFL); or
  • they received a score of 8.0 or above on the IELTS.

In the past you were required to fill a Graduate English Requirement approval form to meet one of the exemptions above. Now this process has been automated and you do not need to fill the English Requirement Approval form which was downloadable from the Graduate College forms site here.  The form needed to be taken or mailed to Room 1137 in Pearson Hall which is the Graduate College location.

Fill Out Paperwork To Get Paid

Fill out an I-9 form during the check-in with IES. This form verifies your eligibility for payroll. The I-9 needs to be filed on or before the 1st day of employment listed on your letter of intent. Also, you may be eligible for a Tax Treaty exemption which will lower the amount of U.S. taxes you must pay. Find out if you are eligible by checking this webpage: http://www.controller.iastate.edu/payroll/stdtreat.htm . If you are eligible, each year you should fill out Form 8233 and the attachment. The forms to claim Tax Treaty exemption may be completed in Payroll, 1st Floor Administrative Services Building.

Actions for U.S. students once at ISU

Fill out paperwork to get paid

U.S. students and permanent residents can download the payroll Sign-Up Packet, which includes the I-9. Fill it out and take it directly to the Records Management office, 3810 Beardshear Hall or pick up a packet in that office to fill out.

Information on the payroll forms can be found at www.hrs.iastate.edu/records/. Please bring a photo ID and your social security card, birth certificate, or passport to sign up for payroll.


Activities at ISU for Everyone


Graduate College - Visit their website

The Graduate College plays one of the most important roles in obtaining a degree at ISU. Become familiar with them. Visit their site to view information on them. They have developed several webpages with comprehensive listings of campus and community services available for new and current students, including Campus Services and Community Life at Iowa State and in the City of Ames.

Obtain Your ISU Card

Obtain your ISUCard in 0530 Beardshear Hall. The ISUCard is your student identification, library card, meal card (if you have a residence hall meal plan), access card to university services, and cash card (if you activate the cash stripe). Your ISU Network ID (your Iowa State email user name) and University ID number associated with this card, allows you entry into AccessPlus, an account which allows you to register for courses each semester, view your university bill, and other services. Here is a FAQ on everything it can do for you!

Obtain your Net-ID which is your University Email Account

To obtain an email account at Iowa State, you need an ISUCard first. After you obtain your ISUCard card, click "Register for a Net-ID here and follow the prompts. If you need assistance, IT staff are available in 195 Durham to answer questions about this and many other computing issues. Be thinking about an appropriate email "name"; the one you choose will be yours for the remainder of your graduate training.

Fill Out Paperwork To Get Health Insurance

Health insurance is provided as part of your assistantship. Enroll on line through your AccessPlus account. The system may automatically enroll you, but check out your AccessPlus account, just in case !

For complete information on your health care, visit ISU's Health Insurance website.

Register for Classes

Registration for coursework is done through your AccessPlus account. To establish your AccessPlus account, you will use your University ID number created for you upon formal admission to ISU.  Trish Stauble can provide your ID number to you, if it was not provided to you.  Before registering for classes, please meet with the BCB Chair to review program requirements.  Sample Curricula for first year students are here.

Lab Safety Orientation

Sign up for lab safety training. You will need an ISU Net ID to sign up.

  • Go here www.ehs.iastate.edu
  • Scroll down. Note center menu entitled "Most Popular Links"; click on the Training Logo
  • Center of page; click on ISU Login
  • At the top of the page, on the right, Click on Login
  • Login
  • In Keyword print the following on-line courses
  • Note: you can generally locate the course by typing the first part of the title, but make sure you find and complete the appropriate course
  • To activate the course, click on LAUNCH. Below are the four required courses prior to working in a lab.
    • Laboratory Safety: Core Concepts (about 1 hour).
    • Fire Safety and Extinguisher Training (take the on-line version)
    • NIH Guidelines
    • Biological Risk Assessment for Researchers (about 30 minutes)
  • Frequently asked questions about the EH&S safety training
  • How do I allow pop-ups? On the left hand side of your top tool bar there are 3 horizontal bars that is referred to as a "hamburger". Click on it. A menu will appear. Click on options. Click on content. You then have the option to allow pop-up windows entirely or as exceptions such as: http://www.ehs.iastate.edu/ and https://training.ehs.iastate.edu/IOWASU/