UIC Department of Biological Sciences
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1. Departmental Procedures

All new Assistants should complete the university hire process by the beginning of August, if at all possible. You will receive an email from the department providing a logon ID and password to access the university's NESSIE system in order to submit required forms on-line. Additionally, students who are US citizens or permanent residents must visit the department (Margaret Kleist, 3250 SES, 312-996-2931, kleist@uic.edu) to complete and submit an I-9 (Employment Eligibility) form in person. International students must check in to UIC's Office of International Services, register for courses, and then return to OIS to complete this form.

A letter of offer will be sent to you following your acceptance of our offer to begin graduate studies in our department. Detailed information about registration procedures will be sent to all incoming graduate students in early summer.

2. The Nessie System: What must be done by student, and what may occur if appointment is late or Nessie information is missing.

If you have been granted an assistantship there are a number of important steps that you have to complete to ensure timely processing and receipt of your first stipend check.
  • You will receive a formal letter of offer from the unit (usually your academic program) that is attempting to hire you.
  • After you have accepted and returned the formal letter of offer for the assistantship, the unit that is hiring you will complete the necessary information in the university database.
  • When the hiring unit completes the previous step, it will trigger an email to you with logon and other information for an online system called NESSIE.
  • In NESSIE, you will need to complete the HR Application and Payroll information (demographic, educational, and bank deposit information).
  • After that is completed in NESSIE, you will be instructed by your hiring unit to complete a Statement of a Drug-Free Workplace and I-9 forms, which you submit to the hiring unit. The I-9 form is viewable in Nessie and includes a list of acceptable official identification you will need to bring in with the completed forms.
  • For international students on a visa, the hiring unit will send appropriate information to the Office of International Services to initiate an Employee Clearance form.
  • The processing for international students on a visa allows less flexibility with regard to the start date, so it is important to complete the necessary steps in a timely fashion.
It is only after all these stages have been successfully completed that your appointment becomes official and allows you to begin your duties and receive the monthly stipend, which is paid on the 16th. In addition, if the appointment comes with a tuition waiver (contact your unit to find out exactly which parts of the tuition and fees are waived and which are not), it is only at this stage that the waiver is available to be applied to your account, assuming you have also correctly registered for the total hours required to receive the waiver. If the appointment for the assistantship is offered or processed late, or any of the steps outlined above are delayed, there is a possibility of missing your first monthly stipend check. Although you will receive an adjusted payment a month later (assuming the beginning date is properly processed and assuming you worked for that period), not having the first check can cause financial issues you did not anticipate. Therefore, if you do not receive timely responses you should always contact the hiring unit to ensure procedures have not been overlooked. See the Graduate College Assistantships website for additional assistantship information.

3. Registration requirements for assistants.

All Teaching and Research Assistants must register for a minimum of 8 semester hours; graduate students who are supported either by a fellowship, or a tuition-and-service-fee-waiver alone, must register for a minimum of 12 semester hours.

4. What the department expect from assistants.

Most assistantships in the Department of Biological Sciences are half-time (20 hours per week) appointments. Some quarter time (10 hours per week) appointments are awarded, depending on the needs of individual students.

The duties of teaching assistants vary. Depending on the class you are assigned to, you may be teaching laboratory sections, grading exams, lab reports, or homework assignments, leading discussion sections, or helping with laboratory preparation. In some cases, teaching assistants attend required weekly meetings with the course instructor and the other assistants involved in the class. In your letter of offer, you will receive some general information about your duties. Exact details for each class will be provided at an initial meeting with the class instructor before the start of classes.

Research assistants are usually selected and hired directly by a faculty member to work in their research laboratory. Details about the expectations of a research advisor will vary depending on the laboratory, and should be clarified in discussions between the student and the researcher who has hired them. A research assistantship generally contributes to the ongoing research project in the laboratory. In some cases, work conducted under a research assistantship becomes a part of the student's graduate research project.

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