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Ecology

Microbial ecology

Requirements for Ecology students who wish to pursue the option in microbial ecology

Understanding of microbial ecology is fundamental to the broader field of ecology.

Overview

The ecology of microorganisms has entered a period of considerable importance to science in general, to industry, and to public policy making. There is a widespread expectation that genetically engineered microorganisms will be released into the environment in the near future. There is also an expectation that microorganisms will play significant roles in the recycling of wastes of all types, in the recycling of herbicides, pesticides, and other xenobiotic compounds, in metals recovery, in fuels processing, and as biocontrol agents. All of these uses entail the large scale enrichment of naturally occurring microorganisms or the introduction of high concentrations of modified microorganisms into the soil or water. In most cases, there is a significant paucity of knowledge concerning the effects of such large-scale enrichments or introductions.

The growing importance of microbial ecology is reflected in the recent founding of several new journals in this area and by the increased number of papers appearing in the older and more established journals.

Training in the area of microbial ecology can help students get jobs in academia, government and industry.

Graduation in the Microbial Ecology Option for the MS and PhD in Ecology will document the student's preparation and competence to contribute to this increasingly important area of science.

Requirements for the MS or PhD Degree in Ecology with Microbial Ecology Option

  1. The student shall meet normal criteria for the M.S. or Ph.D. in Ecology.
  2. The student's research adviser shall be a member of the Microbial Ecology faculty subset of the Ecology Program faculty. Other committee members may be chosen as needed, providing that Ecology Program members comprise the majority.
  3. In addition to the normal Ecology Program requirements, the student shall be required to take:
    • MICROBIOLOGY503 - Molecular Biology (3)
    • A minimum of nine (9) credits from the list of approved courses listed below, chosen in consultation with the student's committee.
      1. MICROBIOLOGY 401 - Microbial Physiology and Structure (3)
      2. MICROBIOLOGY 413 - Microbial Soil Ecology (3)
      3. MICROBIOLOGY 416 - Industrial Microbiology (3)
      4. MICROBIOLOGY 450 - Microbial/Molecular Genetics (3)
    • Any other course work or other training deemed appropriate by the student's committee.
  4. The student's M.S. or Ph.D. thesis shall, in substantial measure, contain new results in the area of microbial ecology, as judged by the student's committee and the option coordinator.

Courses

Advanced courses at Penn State relevant to Microbial Ecology include:

Biochemistry

  • 401 General Biochemistry (3)
  • 402 General Biochemistry (3)
  • 403 Experimental Biochemistry (4)
  • 417 Biochemical Methods (4)
  • 520 Carbohydrates, Lipids, and their Intergrated Metabolism (3)
  • 525 Proteins and Enzymes (3)

Biology

  • 435 Ecology of Lakes and Streams (3)
  • 446 Physiological Ecology (3)
  • 448 Ecology of Plant Reproduction (3)
  • 450 Experimental Field Biology (5)
  • 482 Coastal Biology (4)
  • 544 Advanced Physiological Ecology (4)
  • 545 Ecosystem Dynamics (3)
  • 546 Ecology of Population and Communities (3)

Chemistry

  • 439 Structural Analysis of Organic Compounds (3)
  • 448 Surface Chemistry (3)

Civil Engineering

  • 465 River and Waterways Engineering (3)
  • 471 Environmental Sanitation (3)
  • 472 Water Pollution Control Processes (3)
  • 473Water Quality Management (3) (Taught only at Penn State Harrisburg)
  • 474 Management of Water Pollution Control Processes (3) (Taught only at Penn State Harrisburg)
  • 475 Water Quality Chemistry (1)
  • 476 Solid Waste Management (3)
  • 477 Industrial Hazardous and Residual Waste Management (3)
  • 572 Biological Treatment Processes (2)
  • 574 Laboratory Analysis in Water Quality Control (3)
  • 575 Industrial Waste Treatment (2)
  • 579 Environmental Pollution Microbiology (3)

Other Civil Engineering courses under consideration by the Ecology Program Committee (not yet approved):

  • 555 Groundwater Hydrology: Analysis and Modeling (3)
  • 556 Tracer and Contaminant Transport in Groundwater Systems (3)
  • 566 Uncertainty and Reliability in Water Resources Engineering (3)
  • 567 River Engineering (3)
  • 570 Environmental Aquatic Chemistry (3)
  • 571 Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes (3)
  • 573 Fate and Transport of Hazardous Chemicals (3)
  • 576 Environmental Transport Processes (3)
  • 578 Groundwater Remediation (3)
  • 597 Special Topics (1-9)

Entomology (this course list is in the process of being updated)

  • Biological Control and Pathology of Insects (3)
  • 425 Freshwater Entomology (3)
  • 539 Chemical Ecology of Insects (3)
  • Methods and Strategies for Insect Pest Management (3)
  • 543 Biological Control and Pathology of Insects (3)
  • Taxonomy, Ecology, and Evolution of Insects (5)

Environmental Resource Management

  • 413 Case Studies in Ecosystem Management (3)
  • 423 Pollutant Impacts on Foods (1)
  • 424 Pollutant Impacts on Aquatic Systems (1)

Food science

  • 408 Applied Food Microbiology (2)
  • 409 Laboratory in Applied Food Microbiology (2)

Forestry

  • 470 Watershed Management (3)
  • 508 Forest Ecology (3)

Geosciences

  • 438 Biogenic Sedimentation (3)

Plant Pathology

  • 420 Plant Pathogenic Bacteria (3)