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M.S. in Plant Biology

Master’s student Bethany Zumwalde does research with by Dr. Harvey Ballard

Master’s student Bethany Zumwalde does research with by Dr. Harvey Ballard.

Program Overview

The Environmental and Plant Biology M.S. graduate program provides educational and research experience in plant biology from the molecular to the organismal and ecosystem levels.

Most students are trained within three general areas of study: plant ecology, plant systematics and evolution, or plant molecular and cellular biology. The program strives to foster communication across and beyond these areas of study to provide unique opportunities to meet each student’s specific career goals.

The M.S. program is designed to train and prepare students to be successful in a Ph.D. program or positions in industry, government, or non-governmental organizations.

Each student will be directed in the conduct of independent research in the pursuit of knowledge. Students are mentored in grantsmanship to support their own research with internal and external funding.

Students have hands-on teaching experience because the program provides a teaching assistantship. As teaching assistants, students have the opportunity to assist in a variety of courses and interact with faculty. All students are exposed to the national and international plant biology community through colloquia, seminars, and scientific meetings that will aid them in achieving their post-M.S. career goals.

A concentration in Molecular and Cellular Biology also is offered with the M.S. in Plant Biology.

Career Opportunities: A student with an M.S. in plant biology could work at a college or university, teaching or doing research in a variety of specialty areas. He or she also could work in private industry or governmental agencies dealing with agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms, conservation agencies and museums of natural history, environmental consulting firms, food companies, the brewing and fermentation industry, lumber and pulping companies, plant nurseries, greenhouses, botanical gardens, and arboreta.

Advising

All new students will report to the Graduate Chair for initial instructions on their program of study.

A student may be co-advised by two Environmental & Plant Biology tenure-track faculty members.

A student may change advisers, but only after approval of the current and potential adviser and the Graduate Chair. If a student leaves his or her adviser, for whatever reason, he or she must find another adviser within four weeks or before the start of the following semester.

An unadvised student cannot remain in the Plant Biology graduate program beyond this time limit.

Important Deadlines

  • End of first semester – Course Approval Form to Graduate Chair
  • End of second semester – Thesis Proposal approved by Thesis Committee (or by the Masters Advisory Committee for students in the Molecular & Cellular Biology concentration). Turn in signed Proposal Approval Form to Graduate Chair.
  • End of third academic semester – Comprehensive exam finished for Molecular & Cellular Biology concentration students.
  • Sixth semester (Graduate semester) – Apply to graduate, enroll in PBIO 6950 and PBIO 6970
    • Submit thesis to committee at least two weeks prior to defense and provide thesis title and abstract to office staff.
    • Check TAD for their deadlines.
    • Submit CAS#8 (Report of the Oral Thesis Examination/Dissertation Defense) to Graduate Chair.
  • End of every spring semester – Graduate Student Progress Report.

Transfer to Ph.D. Program

An M.S. thesis student can request a transfer into the doctoral program by submitting an application of transfer to the graduate committee by January 15 or by the end of the first semester.

This application will contain:

  1. A detailed letter of support from his or her adviser.
  2. A letter by the student providing a compelling reason for the transfer and why it is necessary in the context of career goals.

The student will still be required to take a class from each of the sub-disciplines.

The Graduate Committee will make the final admission decision. If positive, the student will be transferred to Ph.D. program for the following academic year (i.e., fall semester).

Degree Requirements for the M.S. in Plant Biology

Note: See degree requirements with the Molecular and Cellular Biology concentration.

A minimum of 20 PBIO graduate hours of graded coursework, excluding seminar, supervised study, colloquium, and research. Courses will be determined by the student and the adviser and signed by the Graduate Chair.

Successful completion of Biological Research and Science Ethics (PBIO 5170).

One course for each of the three sub-disciplines:

Organismal Botany (one course)

  • PBIO 5080 Structural Botany (4)
  • PBIO 5090 Plant Systematics (4)
  • PBIO 5100 Fungi (3)
  • PBIO 5190 Ohio Flora (3)
  • PBIO 5200 Phycology (4)
  • PBIO 5750 Plant Population Genetics & Speciation (3)

Cell and Molecular Biology (one course)

  • PBIO 5240 Plant Physiology (3)
  • PBIO 5280 Genomics Lab (3)
  • PBIO 5300 Plant Genetics (3)
  • PBIO 5310 Cell Biology (3)
  • PBIO 5500 Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (3)

Plant Ecology (one course)

  • PBIO 5220 Tropical Plant Ecology (3)
  • PBIO 5260 Physiological Plant Ecology (4)
  • PBIO 5330 Restoration Ecology (3)
  • PBIO 5350 Population & Community Ecology (4)
  • PBIO 5380 Soils & Ecosystems (4)

Courses that are highly recommended, but do not meet the sub-discipline requirement:

  • PBIO 5010 Lab in Cell and Molecular Plant Physiology (Lab CaMPP) (2)
  • PBIO 5020 Soil Microbial Analysis Lab (2)
  • PBIO 5095 Field Studies in Plant Diversity (3-6)
  • PBIO 5150 Statistical Methods in Plant Biology (4)
  • PBIO 5160 Problem Solving with Bioinformatics Tools (3)
  • PBIO 5180 Writing in the Life Sciences (3)
  • PBIO 8700 Biostatistics II (3)

A minimum of 10 hours of research (PBIO 6940).

Successfully completion of two semesters of PBIO 6970 (Seminar) or giving a research presentation at Ecolunch in BIOS or MCB seminar.

  • The student must enroll in seminar during the semester in which he or she is defending his or her research. The pre-defense seminar is graded by the thesis committee and satisfies one of the two required PBIO 6970 (seminar) courses.

One grade of “C+“ or below will result in academic probation. A GPA below 3.0 in two consecutive academic semesters, two grades of “B-“ or below or one grade of “C-“ or below in graduate courses will result in dismissal from the graduate program.

  • The student should inform his or her adviser and the Graduate Chair before withdrawing from a course because it may impact departmental support.

Completion of a research thesis with the intent of publication in a peer-reviewed journal and successfully defend the thesis orally. (See Master’s Thesis).

Graduation Requirements

M.S. in Plant Biology

  1. Successfully complete Biological Research and Science Ethics (PBIO 5170).
  2. Successfully complete a minimum of 20 PBIO graduate hours of graded course work. Seminar, supervised study, colloquium, and research are not considered in these credit hours.
  3. Successfully complete one course for each of the three sub-disciplines listed below:

ORGANISMAL BOTANY: PBIO 5080 Structural Botany, PBIO 5090 Plant Systematics, PBIO 5100 Fungi, PBIO 5190 Ohio Flora, PBIO 5200 Phycology, PBIO 5750 Plant Population Genetics & Speciation

CELL/MOLECULAR BIOLOGY: PBIO 5240 Plant Physiology, PBIO 5280 Genomics Lab, PBIO 5300 Plant Genetics, PBIO 5310 Cell Biology, PBIO 5500 Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering

PLANT ECOLOGY: PBIO 5220 Tropical Plant Ecology, PBIO 5260 Physiological Plant Ecology, PBIO 5330 Restoration Ecology, PBIO 5350 Population & Community Ecology, PBIO 5380 Soils & Ecosystems

  1. Earn a minimum of 10 credit hours of research (PBIO 6940).
  2. Successfully complete two semesters of seminar (PBIO 6970).
  3. Maintain a GPA at or above 3.00.
  4. Successfully complete a thesis research proposal.
  5. Successfully complete a research thesis with an oral defense.
  6. Graduate in 2 years.

M.S. in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology

  1. Successfully complete Biological Research and Science Ethics (PBIO 5170) and Biochemistry (CHEM 5901 or CHEM 5890).
  2. Successfully complete a minimum of 20 graduate hours of graded course work, with at least 10 credit hours in PBIO. Seminar, supervised study, colloquium, and research are not considered in these credit hours.
  3. Successfully complete one course in MCB 7200 Molecular Biology, MCB 7300 Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, PBIO 5310 Cell Biology, or MCB 7600 Advanced Cell Biology.
  4. Earn a minimum of 10 credit hours of research (PBIO 6940).
  5. Successfully complete two semesters of MCB seminar (MCB 7410) each year.
  6. Maintain a GPA at or above 3.00.
  7. Successfully complete a thesis research proposal.
  8. Pass a Comprehensive Examination composed of written sections no later then the 3rd academic semester.
  9. Successfully complete a research thesis with an oral defense.
  10. Graduate in 2.5 years.

Program Mission

To expose students to the scientific method in plant ecology, systematics and evolution, and/or molecular and cellular biology. Emphasis is placed on conducting original research and communicating science to the scientific community and in a classroom environment.    

Program Learning Objectives

  • Students will know professional standards of science and responsible conduct of scientists that are essential for the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge within their area of study.
  • Students will be able to write a research proposal.
  • Students will know how to design and complete a research study and/or scientific experiment. 
  • Students will be able to process and analyze data to make sound interpretations.

Students will be able to communicate scientific ideas in both written and oral forms to diverse audiences.

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