2020 graduate student survey

To better understand the needs and interests of the WheatCAP graduate students we conduct annual surveys. Below we show the responses to some select questions, and the complete results can be found here.

Question 6. How confident are you in the following skill sets?

confidence chart

Question 11. In your opinion, what are the three best methods for educating graduate students?

opinion chart

Question 12. Percentage of Wheat-CAP students interested in plant breeding.
85% of the Wheat-CAP students are interested in Plant Breeding.

Question 13. Percentage of Wheat-CAP students who want to pursue a career in plant breeding.
85% of the Wheat-CAP students want to pursue a career in plant breeding.

Question 16. How has Covid-19 impacted your education and research progress?
Student Responses:
1.) As we all experiencing, Covid-19 impacting all of us. Beginning of the pandemic, lab and other university facilities were highly restricted and had access for limited hours. All the classes suddenly shifted to online. I had to work mostly alone. But during field season, we are collaborating but maintaining social distance and wear mask all the time.
2.) The working time was decreased to half. So many work was delayed.
3.) Stop the lab experiment for one semester
4.) I stopped my research until phase three. I am leaving one of my project incomplete.
5.) “Not too much, but influenced our progress speed”
6.) It impacted a lot, I had to drop one of my projects due to the shutdown given the genotyping facility was closed.
7.) Research in the lab slowed down significantly. We waited to start new projects and primarily worked from home. Last semester, we had classes online and it was clunky. No interactions between students and teachers or students and students. I am hopeful that by the fall semester the teachers have learned new skills for online teaching! Breakout sessions and just talking to your partner in class are so important. Although, NDSU is going to start with classes in person.
8.) I feel it has slowed down my progress a little bit. But doing my best a day at a time.
9.) I have been blessed that Covid-19 did not impact my research negatively. It has not stopped any of my projects or greenhouse/field experiments.
10.) My ability to perform molecular assays in a timely manner has been reduced dramatically and thus the amount of field data I can collect has also decreased.
11.) Thus far my institution has allowed me to do in-person field lab work when it was necessary, so I haven’t been negatively affected too badly.
12.) For research, it has significantly slowed due to limited time at the lab and less person to person contact with others and my advisor due to shift working in the lab/building. It has also made research more difficult with setting up stuff, communication, etc. My education was slightly impacted because I had lab class last spring that went online and did not gain any of the hands on skills.
13.) Working from home provided me with the opportunity to reflect on how my dissertation did and did not match my career goals. It has helped me make adjustments and re-focus my attention on skill building for desired job descriptions.
14.) Significantly – no access to lab until this week, much higher workload during field season/harvest/post-harvest this spring and summer with no undergraduate workers. Harder to work on manuscripts with advisor and collaborators.
15.) I have had to re-schedule and adapt almost all of my experiments for the last year of my PhD. With these modifications, I can still graduate on-time. All spare storage spaces in my house are also filled with wheat spikes since all characterizing and phenotyping has to be done off campus.
16.) Not too much. I’m primarily writing now, so I’m still able to do my work.

Question 17. How can we better serve you in coping with the changes caused by Covid-19?
1.) May be more online communication.
2.) I need more research instructions on this special period to facilitate my research progress.
3.) The writing group is a good idea for me.
4.) Maybe we can do more of empowerment and skills development sessions when we are all being stay at home.
5.) Hold more seminar to improve our study ability.
6.) Probably, having monthly meetings again would help since some of us may be dealing with the same issues and we could advice each other.
7.) Tokens of encouragement and moral support
8.) I think you were very mindful of adjustments that needed to be made to the program due to Covid-19. Canceling the CYMMIT trip was huge and saved me many worries. And I am excited to do the seminars over zoom. Will CYMMIT be rescheduled?
9.) Social isolation has become an issue – so allowing opportunities for students to get together to socialize would be great.
10.) The university is doing the best they can to balance research progress with safety. I have no further suggestions at this time.
11.) Continue to support the importance of graduate students being allowed to conduct in-person research. I think at this point myself and virtually every other graduate student I’ve talked to is way more concerned about our university/institution shutting down our graduate research than any negative effects we might suffer from Covid. As a young health and highly educated person I wish my university would give me more freedom in deciding my own health risk. Please don’t take this message the wrong way, I think my university leadership is full of well-intentioned people who want the best for their students, but I feel they are being overzealous and are hurting us more then they are protecting us.
12.) I think the biggest is to help those that keep our progress in check understand that research progress may have slowed due to Covid-19 and that it varies greatly across institutions.
13.) We have fewer opportunities to interact with grad students at our institutions (for example running into each other at seminar) and that is a great opportunity for trouble shooting. Could we have a WheatCAP zoom meeting for people to attend if they want to troubleshoot / get some diverse brainstorming perspectives? Different from a research update – the goal is to present a problem.
14.) Writing group was a great idea and has been useful! I forget what happened to the online conference/workshop but it would cool to pick that back up, especially if PAG is moved online. It would be nice to resume monthly or even biweekly wheatcap meetings where wheatcap students can present research and get feedback, as I thought this was very valuable.
15.) Provide remote networking opportunities and job finding assistance.
16.) The inability to communicate with colleagues’ in-person a conferences is frustrating.

Question 18. Suggestions for future education opportunities?
1.) I think our attempt to include many aspect of skills development is very commendable. We should continuing our academic activities.
2.) I think most of us are more familiar about what a career in academia would look like. Maybe career presentations in industry would help familiarize us with industry careers?
3.) Having a meeting with advisors and discuss internship opportunities for students. Discuss timeline and encourage it’s importance.
4.) Genomic selection!!
5.) Having more online lecture opportunities this year, like the one on Genomic Selection from Rex Bernardo.
6.) N/A
7.) Because many of us have similar experiences and will be looking at jobs soon, a resume/cv workshop may be useful to learn how to tailor our resumes to show off our unique traits.
8.) If there is any way for WheatCAP to support more student-interaction that is not based on attending and watching presentations, I would really appreciate that. These can be practical or purely social (eg. Trivia). For example, I really enjoy my little WheatCAP writing group with Brittney and Priscilla. I’m also really interested in hearing about people’s “side projects” that are plant breeding related but not about positional cloning.