Student working in field


Investigate patterns in the interactions among organisms and their environments—from the molecule to the biosphere.

Program Overview

Students in Penn State’s Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology: 

  • Gain a thorough understanding of ecological theory and hypothesis testing
  • Conduct research that tests basic ecological theories or applies ecological principles to meet critical societal needs 
  • Engage with faculty members from across Penn State in their coursework and research
  • Develop their communication and leadership skills 
  • Earn M.S. and Ph.D. degrees


New tomato, potato family tree shows that fruit color and size evolved together

Fruits of Solanum plants, a group in the nightshade family, are incredibly diverse, ranging from sizable red tomatoes and purple eggplants to the poisonous green berries on potato plants. A new and improved family tree of this group, produced by an international team led by researchers at Penn State, helps explain the striking diversity of fruit colors and sizes and how they might have evolved.

Unexpected diversity of light-sensing proteins goes beyond vision in frogs

Frogs have maintained a surprising diversity of light-sensing proteins over evolutionary time, according to a new study led by a Penn State researcher. Light-sensing proteins, called opsins, enable vision in sighted animals, and are responsible for many more biological functions like regulating circadian rhythms. The researchers explored the evolution of nonvisual opsins in frogs, finding that most modern species examined in this study retained a shocking number of these proteins.

Combining pest treatments may be key to helping honey bees survive the winter

Winters can be tough on managed honey bee colonies, with beekeepers in the United States reporting that one-third of their colonies die each winter. A new study by Penn State researchers has found that using not one but multiple pest treatments may help bees make it to spring.

Local disparities may prevent national vaccination efforts for rubella

When public health officials make policies about when and how vaccination programs are implemented, they must weigh the benefits and risks of how infectious diseases spread throughout the country. However, these analyses are often based on national-level data and, in some countries, may overlook nuances at the local level.