Graduate Student Fall 2018 Orientation


cy mascotWelcome to Iowa State University!

. . .And welcome to Ames!

The Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate programs is looking forward to your arrival this fall. Your assistantship appointment starts on Monday, August 13, and you should plan to arrive on campus by that date to participate in various orientation activities planned to help ease the transition to graduate study prior to the first day classes on Monday August 20.  Typical orientation activities include:

  • Check in, for international students to record your arrival on campus, a health screening and an English Placement Test if required.
  • Payroll signup
  • Obtaining an ISU ID card
  • Lab safety training
  • Review of program expectations, curriculum, and lab rotation and placement process
  • Course registration
  • Social events to interact with members of the department, including faculty and current graduate students
  • Meetings you schedule with faculty in whose lab you may want to do a rotation

Attached is the current list of planned orientation events, including BBMB orientation scheduled for Wednesday, August 15:  2018 Fall Orientation Events (Revised July 19, 2018).. If you have any questions before you arrive, please contact Connie Garnett (, 515-294-3317), the Graduate Program Coordinator.  More details about scheduled orientation activities will be posted here once confirmed.

Before arriving at Iowa State

Obtain your ISU NetID and email account

Set up your ISU email account (Net-ID) online.  Go to Net-ID Services and select “Register or a Net-ID".  Think about your choice of “name” for your Net-ID because it will become your email address for your tenure as a graduate student at ISU. Any questions or problems setting up your Net-ID, contact the IT Solution Center.

Sign up for AccessPlus

​AccessPlus allows you to register for classes, view your university bill, and access other ISU services.  Create your AccessPlus account by using your University ID as your Login ID and as your initial password, use your birth month and day in a four digit format.  For example, if you were born May 10, your initial password would be 0510.  You can log on to AccessPlus using your UID, Social Security Number, or Confirmation Number and a password that you have established.

Through AccessPlus you can conduct many employee transactions or obtain personal information through the Student tab on AccessPlus.  See Self Service Through AccessPlus for more information.

Any questions or problems with AccessPlus, contact the IT Solution Center. They can reset your password over the phone and grant you access.

Secure Housing

On-campus housing. The University offers housing options. You can register for University housing via your AccessPlus account.  Communicate with University housing officials by email at:

Off-campus housing. Available apartments or homes may be located through local realtors. We do not endorse any particular website, but other rental websites to check include Ames Craigslist and

International students, prior to and upon arrival on campus, please visit the International Student and Scholars (ISSO) Fall Orientation website for information you will need to check in as a new student.  Wednesday, August 15, is when all new international graduate students have to be on campus.  Students who must arrive late due to circumstances beyond their control MUST contact ISU Admissions (, phone 515-294-5836, 800- 262-3810, Fax:  515-294-2592) for a letter permitting them to arrive late.  Please contact ISSO upon arrival to schedule a late check-in appointment.  The ISSO Office is located on the south side of campus in 3248 Memorial Union (Phone: 515-294-1120, Fax: 515 294-8263,

Transportation from Des Moines International Airport to Ames.  If you plan to arrive at Des Moines International Airport, please note that Iowa State University is about 40 miles from the airport to Ames and you will need to arrange ground transportation to Ames.  Information about ground transportation from the airport can be found on the ISSO website under: Airport Transportation

International students special instructions for luggage: Please put your name and Iowa State University in English somewhere on your luggage. This will help to locate any luggage that may be lost or delayed.

CyRide Bus ServiceCyRide is the public bus system in Ames that you can ride for free by showing your ISU Card.  The cost is covered by your mandatory student fees.  As you search for a place to live in Ames, you may want to check Cy-Ride routes and schedules to make sure you can easily access CyRide from where you choose to live.

Parking Permit

If you plan to drive on campus and would like a parking permit to Lot 29, the parking lot directly behind the Molecular Biology Building, please note this Important Date:  The ISU Parking Division will open their 2018 Online Parking Purchase for permits to Lot 29 to new students with a half-time or above assistantship with a signed contract beginning Wednesday, July 18 at 9:00 AM. Go to the Parking Division link on your AccessPlus Student Tab to request a permit.  The permit costs $150 for the academic year (fall and spring semesters).  There is also free parking at the Iowa State Center south of campus, near Jack Trice Stadium, in designated areas (A3, A4, B4, B5, B6).  You would need to take the Orange Route Cy-Ride to travel to Molecular Biology. 

Thielen Student Health Center

Please visit the Thielen Student Health Center website for information about immunization requirements, as they differ for new domestic and international students.  Documentation of the required immunizations is due by July 31 for fall semester entries.  It is essential that all new students turn in required forms to avoid any delay in course enrollment.

A health screening is required for international students and you must schedule your appointment using CyStart at the ISSO website.

The Thielen Student Health Center is located on the northeast corner of Union Drive and Sheldon Avenue, just west of Beyer Hall.  Part of your mandatory student fees will be a health fee, which enables the availability of high quality and accessible health care to the ISU student community by helping support the overall costs of the health center.  The health fee is not health insurance - see Student Health Insurance below for details.

Upon arrival on campus

International Students – obtaining a Social Security Number. International students who do not yet have a Social Security (SS) number should wait at least two weeks after arrival in the United States before applying for an SS number. Applying too early will initiate paper processing of your Social Security number which can take up to five months, delaying your assistantship support.

Two weeks after arriving in the United States, go to the Ames Iowa Social Security Office, 2615 University Boulevard in Ames to apply for your SS number. The CyRide Brown Route stops in front of their building.  You will need to bring your passport, visa, I-20, and a copy of showing your support, like a letter of intent for an assistantship or documents for Fellowship support.

Your SS number and card will be sent to The Office of the Registrar and they will email you when it arrives so you can pick it up, by showing a photo ID like your ISU card, and bring it to the Human Resources Records Management Office in room 3810 Beardshear to record to complete your payroll process.  Once this number is in the system, your payroll action can be entered retroactive to your assistantship start date or first day of employment.

Payroll sign up

U.S. students and permanent residents should complete their payroll sign-up on or before August 13.  Bring required documents to Human Resources Service Center, 3810 Beardshear Hall.  Note, international students will sign the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form with the ISSO office.

International students will also complete some forms for payroll sign-up with the Human Resources Service Center, but will fill out the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form in the ISSO office during check-in.  This form verifies your eligibility to be paid as a graduate student. The I-9 needs to be filed on or before the first 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. If eligible, you will fill out Form 8233 each year. The forms to claim Tax Treaty exemption may be completed in in the ISU Payroll office located on the first floor of the Administrative Services Building.

Graduate students on assistantship are paid monthly at the end of each month through direct deposit.  While every effort will be made to make sure you are paid on time, your support cannot be entered into the system until payroll sign up is completed, so please arrive with sufficient funds to live on until you receive your first paycheck, most likely at the end of September if you are not paid at the end of August.  Your first check will be retroactive to your assistantship start date.

Obtain your ISU ID. Obtain your University ID card (UID) in 0530 Beardshear Hall.  Your UID is your student identification, library card, meal card (if you have a residence hall meal plan); access card to university services, CyRide card, and cash card (if you activate the cash stripe).

Student Health Insurance enrollment is automatic and coverage is provided at no cost to you as part of your assistantship. To learn more, visit the Students and Scholars Health Insurance (SSHIP) website.  Once you complete your payroll sign up and your support is entered into the payroll system, you will be automatically enrolled in self-coverage retroactive to your appointment start date.  Enrollment in dental and dependent coverage is available at an additional cost to you. The SSHIP office located in the University Human Resources Service Center in 3810 Beardshear Hall.

Laboratory Safety Training

All new BBMB students are required to attend a hands-on four-hour Lab Safety Orientation offered by Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) during orientation week prior to working in a lab.  We prefer students attend the Tuesday, August 14, 2018, training so Connie Garnett will pre-register your attendance so you can attend this training as a group.  If you are unable to attend on August 14, you can register for this training by setting up an account on Learn@ISU and registering for this half-day training on any date available. 

All students planning to work with hazardous materials or processes must be adequately trained before beginning work in the laboratory.  See the Safety Training Curriculum for Laboratory Personnel for more information.