Course Requirements

Our curriculum helps students develop critical reading of scientific literature, experimental design and data interpretation, oral and written communication, and proposal writing.  Students obtain additional knowledge in specific areas of research from elective courses and journal clubs.

Core courses:

  1. Experimental Design and Analysis in Biological Research; Bio5703 (2 credits, fall of year 1)
  2. Nucleic Acids and Protein Biosynthesis; Bio548 or Fundamentals of Molecular Cell Biology Bio5068 (3 credits, fall of year 1)
  3. Current Approaches in Plant & Microbial Research; Bio5702 (3 credits, spring of year 1)
  4. Seminar in Plant and Microbial Biology; Bio5723 (2 credits, fall of year 2)
  5. One Additional Journal Club - Students in their third year should take one journal club from a different DBBS program - Cell Bio or Genetics being good options.
  6. Ethics and Research Science; Bio5011 (1 credit, spring of year 2)

Year One:

Integrated Communication Component

Concise communication is critical for success as a scientist.  Bio5703 and Bio5702 center on integrated oral and written components.  In addition, first year students are encourage to participate in the DBBS Fellowship Writing Workshop.

  • During the fall semester (Bio5703) students will:
    • Write and revise 6 sets of specific aims on different topics
    • Select one set of specific aims for a 30-minute presentation.
  • During the spring semester (Bio5702)
    • Students turn the project they selected for the oral presentation in Bio5703 into a full-length NIH NRSA style proposal
    • Submit final proposals for evaluation in faculty led by student run study sections modeled on the NIH. Each proposal will be evaluated by 2 students serving as Reviewers 1 and 2 and by the faculty leader serving as Reviewer 3
  • DBBS Fellowship Writing Workshops fFall Year 1). To obtain further practice writing, students who have not received outside funding prior to graduate school are encouraged to participate in DBBS predoctoral fellowship workshops during the fall of year 1.

Year Two:

 Bio5723- Seminar in Plant and Microbial Biosciences:

  • 2 credit course - counts towards PMB’s journal club requirement
  • Students divvy up assigned papers and present them such that each student gets a fair share of the burden.  Each presenting student provides a 1 page primer to hand out to the class prior to their presentation.  Primers are essentially short reviews of the field that hit only the highest highlights.

Elective courses

In addition to the core requirements, students must take at least 6 credits of advanced electives (400 level or higher) that facilitate specialization in their area of interest. Students are strongly recommended to complete their elective requirement by the end of year two. Relevant, popular courses include:

  • How Plants Work: Plant Physiology, Growth and Metabolism (Fall, odd years); Bio4023; 3 credits
  • Advanced Genetics (Spring); Bio5491; 3 credits. This course is recommended strongly for all students. In addition to the material covered, students write a research proposal on a topic that can be developed further for the qualifying exam (see below).
  • Fundamentals of Molecular Cell Biology (Fall); Bio5068; 4 credits
  • Developmental Biology (Spring); Bio5352; 3 credits
  • Molecular Microbiology & Pathogenesis (Spring); Bio5392; 3 credits
  • Protein Analysis, Proteomics and Protein Structure Laboratory (Spring); Bio4522; 3 credits
  • Bioenergy (Spring); Biol4830; 2 credits
  • Computational Molecular Biology (Fall) Bio5495; 3 credits
  • Genomics (Spring) Bio5488; 3 or 4 credits
  • Statistics for Medical and Public Health Researchers (Spring) Math507M; 3 credits.
  • Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology (Fall) EECE596A.
  • Mass Spectrometry (Spring); Chem550; 3 credits
  • Biotech Industry Innovators (Spring); Bio5014; 3 credits

Important notes concerning course requirements:

1.   Students must earn a grade of B- or better in core courses. Students earning grades lower than B- will need to take the course again.

2.   Students must earn a grade of C or better in advanced elective courses.