The primary goal of the doctoral program in the Biology Department is to provide advanced training and experience in ecology, evolutionary biology, bioinformatics, and biology teaching. The program features an exciting range of subdisciplines, including evolutionary ecology, human-disease biology, systematics and phylogenetics, organismal and population biology, community and ecosystem ecology, and conservation biology. We emphasize original and creative research and teaching that prepares students for careers in academics, and leadership positions in government or industrial settings. Faculty members do research in a variety of freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environments on several continents across a broad spectrum of taxa (vascular plants, nematodes, crustaceans, insects, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals). Doctoral research frequently combines field work with computational and laboratory work. Our program is enhanced by excellent on-campus resources, including a natural history museum with extensive collections, state-of-the-art gene sequencing facilities, a controlled-environment laboratory facility, electron microscopy, herbarium, and greenhouse. Our program provides a scholarly setting designed to fit the individual goals of students.
Our PhD program provides the multidisciplinary training required for a successful career in academia. Students will have the opportunities to learn (1) currently accepted theories, (2) how to plan, conduct, and critically evaluate experiments, (3) how to make an original contribution to science, (4) how to become skilled in oral and written communication, and (5) how to become self-sufficient in continuing education beyond graduate school. Students should consider the graduate training program as the beginning of their professional careers, rather than as an extension of schooling as they have known it. PhD students do many of the same things that occupy professional scientists, namely reading scientific literature, planning, conducting, and analyzing experiments, writing grant proposals, and publishing papers. Original scientific research is exciting but also requires a great deal of work. However, the rewards to the dedicated student include a sense of accomplishment, independence, and discovery as well as entry into a wonderful profession.
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