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Plant Biology

Plant Biology

Providing educational and research experience in molecular, cell, and evolutionary biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics and functional genomics, physiology, and root biology in order to help students prepare for teaching and research positions in academia, industry, and government

Application Deadline: December 31

Program overview

The program includes faculty members from 10 departments in 3 colleges. Their research interests range from from the cellular, molecular and biochemical levels to whole-plant physiology and ecophysiology. Students' program of study includes a comprehensive set of team-taught courses that reflect the breadth of scientific fields, and the linkages between them. All students must also complete a thesis based on their own original research.

Work for an M.S. degree is usually completed in two years. The Ph.D. degree requires three or more years of research beyond the M.S. level. B.S.-level applicants with good academic records who have had strong training in plant biology and related courses, including research experience, are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. More about admission requirements.

As a first-year student in the Ph.D. program you will spend time in different labs to explore potential Ph.D. projects and advisors. These lab rotations introduce you to faculty research programs and develop your skills in problem solving. After you have chosen an advisor, or dual advisors, you will become associated with the (primary) advisor’s academic department, which provides research facilities and office space.

To fulfill the required number of academic credits for the Ph.D. or M.S. degree, you will need to take a set of required courses and a colloquium class. Additional elective courses may be chosen in consultation with your advisor. You may also be able to obtain supervised experience in teaching. More about degree requirements and the curriculum.

Financial aid

Only those applicants pursuing a Ph.D. will be considered for financial support (stipend plus tuition grant-in-aid) — which will be provided throughout their study, provided they remain in good standing and maintain satisfactory progress.

Please note that applicants interested in pursuing an M.S. will be admitted only if they are able to fund their study personally through external scholarships or other sources.

Participating departments

The departments represented by program faculty are:

Faculty Spotlight
Associate Professor of Wood Chemistry
Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, a research team led by Huck Institutes faculty scientist Donald Bryant has discovered. Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis - Full article
A group of Penn State students led by Assistant Professor of Biology Charles Anderson is exploring ways to make plants hardier, boosting world food supplies in the process. Research team sets sights on fighting hunger by strengthening plants - Full article
A group of students led by Charles Anderson has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support their new research project in sustainable agriculture, Fast Farming: Feeding a Hot, Dry World. Crowdfunding campaign underway to support student research on sustainable agriculture - Full article
Upcoming events
Oct 27, 2014 Monday 12:10 PM
A. Lacey Samuels (Department of Botany, University of British Columbia)
Cell Biology of Lignification
Nov 3, 2014 Monday 12:10 PM
Daniel McClosky (Plant Biology Ph.D. Program, Penn State University)
Imaging Cell Wall Component Delivery Using Click Chemistry
Nov 10, 2014 Monday 12:10 PM
Yinong Yang (Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, Penn State University)
Application of CRISPR/Cas Mediated Genome Editing in Plant Functional Genomics and Crop Breeding