Frequently Asked Questions

What does ChemGSO do and how can I get more involved?

The Chemistry Graduate Student Organization is a very important part of the Chemistry department at KU and we encourage students to get involved. The GSO has many roles including planning graduate student events and fund raising efforts to benefit chemistry graduate students. The GSO also works closely with the graduate academic advisor to make graduate students aware of opportunities and resources for them on campus.

Their website can be found here and their Facebook can be found here.

The following description comes from their 'About' section on Facebook and gives further insight:

'The mission of ChemGSO is to (1) Facilitate communication between graduate students and the Chemistry Department, (2) Promote professional development for chemistry graduate students, and (3) Build social ties within the department while advocating for science within our community. All chemistry graduate students are encouraged to attend our monthly meetings and events during which we discuss issues important to graduate students, brainstorm new programs and policies to suggest to the department, and plan upcoming events. If you have an anonymous concern you'd like ChemGSO to be aware of, please let us know using this form.'

This is a list of the current GSO officers:

Kelci Schilly - President

Zeke Piskulich - Vice-President

Galina Bulgakova - Treasurer

Chelsea Comadoll - Secretary

Joshua Sanders - Event/Program Coordinator

How often should we meet with our Research Advisory Committee?

The purpose of the RAC is to give additional support and resources to our students both for their research and professional goals. RACs are required to meet a minimum of once an academic year to discuss the student’s progress, but you are welcome (and encouraged) to schedule more than one meeting throughout the year. We have specifically kept the guidelines for these meetings vague because we hope that each person can tailor their RAC to their needs. However, you can find a guideline for discussions that may be useful in providing a structured and productive meeting here. This will help to give you an idea of possible meeting formats and questions to discuss with your commitee.

If you have any additional questions about your Research Advisory Committee you can contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Jon Tunge, or the Graduate Academic Advisor, Megan Belaire.


How many credits should I enroll in each semester?

You are expected to be enrolled full time each semester, but the definition of full time varies depending on your appointments. Most, if not all, chemistry graduate students will have a GTA or GRA position.

Students with a GTA or GRA appointment must be enrolled in 6 credits hours for fall and spring and 3 credit hours in the summer. 

Students with external fellowships are typically expected to enroll in 9 credit hours for fall and spring and 6 credit hours in the summer.

Students that have passed their oral comprehensive exam must complete 18 post-comp hours after which time they can petition to reduce to 1 hour a semester.

If you're still unsure how many credits to enroll in, please email the graduate academic advisor, Megan Belaire to set up an appointment or to ask for clarification.

For more information on full time enrollment please see the university policy

What is the orals process/timeline for my division?

It is expected that you will sit for your oral comps sometime during your third year of study at KU. At the beginning of your third year you should meet with your research advisor to discuss when you will be ready to take the exam and what you are expected to do beforehand. The following is the general process for all divisions besides Analytical.

You should work with your advisor to come up with a research proposal and possible committee members and then you should contact the graduate academic advisor, Megan Belaire, as soon as possible with a list of your committee members and a 1-2 week window in which you would like to take the exam. The graduate academic advisor will ensure that your committee members comply with the graduate studies policy and then send out a scheduling poll to find the date and time of the exam. Once the date and time have been agreed upon the graduate academic advisor will reserve a room for the exam. Megan will also be in charge of submitting the necessary paperwork to ensure that your exam is official in the eyes of the university so it is especially important that she be given advance notice of your exam and that she should be involved in the scheduling process.All of the above must be completed no later than 2 weeks in advance of the exam date in order to assure approval.

For the Analytical Division you are expected to give a seminar talk on your research before you can schedule your exam. Contact Cady Bush for exam scheduling and she will work to provide you with your committee members and a room reservation.

Which parking passes am I eligible for?

Graduate students are eligible for Yellow permits, which gives you access to any yellow lot, or a garage permit. If you are added to a wait-list, it typically takes 1 year of being on the waitlist before you are granted a garage permit.

If you have any yellow pass you can also park in Park and Ride, if you work on both campuses and purchase a main campus pass, KU parking has agreed to add west campus parking to your permit.

What is the general process for defending and applying for graduation?

It is expected that you will defend your dissertation during your 5th year of study at KU. If you do not feel you are ready after discussing with your research advisor you will need to submit a petition to extend departmental support. Please reach out to the academic advisor for more information on the petition process.

You should speak with your research advisor about any division requirements that may be necessary before you can defend. Once you know your committee members and a general timeline of when you would like to defend, please provide this information to Megan Belaire, the graduate academic advisor. She will follow up to ensure that your committee adheres to graduate policy and the schedule the date and time of the exam. Once the date and time have been confirmed she will reserve a room for the defense. You should plan on having your dissertation to the committee AT LEAST 3 weeks in advance of the exam date (4 weeks for analytical students) because it is required that at least 3 of your committee members must email the graduate academic advisor confirming that the dissertation is in "final defensible form" no later that 2 weeks before the exam date. This would give your committee one week to read through the dissertation, although some committee members may prefer more time.

It is best that you apply for graduation in Enroll & Pay once the exam has been scheduled. If you do not pass you can always rescind the application, but it is much harder to apply for graduation after the deadline.

The following links have checklists of everything that must be completed before the doctoral degree can be awarded, but as always you may contact the graduate academic advisor if you have any further questions.

The deadline for all of your materials varies each year, but it is always towards the very end of the semester.

What are the requirements for Oral Exam/Final Defense committees?

The following are requirements for both oral exam and final defense committees:

- There must be at least 5 members on the committee.

- The majority of these members must be tenured/tenure track.

- One member must be from outside of the chemistry department. This person will serve as the Graduate Studies Representative to "assure the appropriate standard of fairness, professionalism, judgment, and skill are applied throughout the examination process for the benefit of the institution and in the best interest of the student". The GSR must have no previous collaboration with the student nor their research advisor.

- At least 3 of the 5 members must be from the chemistry department.

What is the pay schedule and where can I find more information about it?

KU employees are paid on a bi-monthly basis. More information about payroll and tax information can be found here.

Click on the button that says 'Calendar' to see the current year's pay schedule. There will be gaps in pay for GTA positions based on when you finish spring semester and start in summer. The last day of GTA appointments is always noted on this calendar for the academic year, and you should be able to figure out when your first summer pay check will arrive, based on the dates given and when classes start. The graduate academic advisor will also be sending emails about pay gaps as a reminder.

Where can I find a copy of my official transcript and/or enrollment certificate?

Official transcripts can be ordered through the Registrar's Office here.

Enrollment Certification can be ordered through the Registrar's Office here

You also have access to download an advising report using the myKU Advising Tool. The advising report lists the courses you took each semester and the grade you received but it is not considered an official report. This might be useful if you need this information but an official transcript isn't required. Here is a link with instructions on how to download your advising report.

When I move to a new apartment, whom should I notify?

You should update your information on Enroll & Pay and with HR.

International Students should also use iHawk to update their information.

Where can I find Tax Information?

Legal Services for Students has a very helpful webpage with tax info for both domestic and international students, as well as several tax workshops during the spring semester. Tax help and workshops are free for KU students.

Student Accounts Receivable also has some information available on their website, but mainly concerning 1098-T forms. 

Who are my departmental committee representatives?

2019 - 2020 Committee Representative 

Alumni Committee - Ty Balduf

Graduate Affairs Committee - Leah Pfeifer

GROW Committee - Hayley Blockinger

Safety Committee - Shrikant Londhe

Seminar Committee - Pubudu Wimalasiri

Who can I talk to if....

... I have a question about my paycheck?

The Graduate Academic Advisor, Megan Belaire ( can answer most of your basic questions about payroll issues. If she is unable to help with a specific inquiry she will direct you to a specific person in HR to contact. You can always reach out to KU HR directly for questions regarding payroll, if you'd prefer.

.. I have a question about travel expenses?

Jessica Newman ( is responsible for handling most student travel to and from locations. Jessica is in charge of most travel arrangements and reimbursements. You will need to fill out a travel form and have your plans approved by your PI before you start the process.

... I have a question about being a graduate student in the department?

You have a number of options. ChemGSO is happy to answer any questions you might have. Megan Belaire (, the graduate academic advisor, can answer questions about deadlines, graduation requirements, and graduate policy in general. She's also good at connecting you with other resources if she doesn't know the answer herself. Your PI can often point you towards an appropriate resource as well.

ChemGSO also can put you in contact with proper KU or Chemistry staff member to give you an answer to your question.

... I need to make a room reservation?

If you need to reserve a classroom you should contact Elizabeth Coleman ( If you need to reserve a conference room you can contact Megan Belaire (

When you make a reservation you will need to know an approximate number of people that will attend, the room you are thinking of, and any technology requirements you might have. Please try to make reservations a week in advance if possible to avoid any last minute conflicts.

... I have an IT problem?

John Clune ( and Jason Johnson ( are the Chemistry IT personnel and can handle most problems, in the laboratory or on work computers. If it is a problem with the Center for Research Computing High-Performance Cluster, reach out to

... I have a safety concern?

Safety is incredibly important. The first point of contact is your group and your PI. If they are not able to remedy your concern or your concern is about another lab you should reach out to the Building Facilities Manager, Laurie White ( Laurie is also the Chair of the ISB Safety Committee and has information on every lab and teaching space in the building. You can also reach out to the GSO or the Graduate Student Representative on the Safety Committee to have your concern brough anonymously to the department.

... I have a conflict with my PI?

This can be a tricky situation and to some extent is a judgement call on your part based on the nature of the issue and your relationship with your PI. If you can, the best route is to be honest with your PI about your feelings on the matter and see if you two can come to a resoution between yourselves. Jon Tunge (, the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, is the next person you should speak with about any conflicts. He can act as a mediator between you and your PI. Alternatively, you can reach out to ChemGSO anonymously to talk about the problem and avenues that you could take. A last recourse for a serious dispute with your PI is to change groups. If you want to pursue this option, please reach out to the Graduate Academic Advisor, Megan Belaire ( for more information on how to start this process.

... I have a conflict with another Graduate Student?

This can also be a tricky situation to find yourself in, especially if the other graduate student is in your group. The first step should be to reach out to the graduate student in question, if you feel comfortable doing so. Should that not work, the next step would be to speak with your PI about the situation. Alternatively, ChemGSO can speak with you about the problem and anonymously try to connect you with appropriate resources. Jon Tunge (, the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, is also available to mediate serious disputes between graduate students.

... I suspect someone of research misconduct?

This is a serious accusation and should be treated as such. If you truly think that someone has commited research misconduct you should reach out to KU’s research integrity officer (RIO) by following the contact information at the following link (Research Integrity Hotline). Susan MacNally ( is the director of Research Integrity at KU. Comments can both be made anonymously and non-anonymously; however, it should be noted that there is a chance either way that the person being accused will figure out who made the complaint. That being said, any form of retaliation from the accused, the department, or the university is both against university policy as well as KS state law. Want more information about research integrity?

... if I need to print a poster?

The Chemistry Department prints posters for all Chemistry faculty, postdocs, and students with Chemistry funding sources.  The cost for a poster printed on glossy photo paper is $20. Any student or lab group wishing to print a poster should use our online webform to make the request. Please be sure to have approval from your PI before submitting the request, since you will need to get the grant number from your PI for the form.

The poster printing request form can be found here.

Chemistry department receives more than $8.5 million in research grants annually
14 chemistry faculty members have NSF CAREER Awards
Longest-running chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates in the nation
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