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The course of graduate studies is designed so that after receiving their Ph.D., students will have expertise in research in a specific area of microbiology and/or immunology. The Department of Microbiology consists of 23 faculty members with strengths in bacterial genetics and physiology, animal virology, pathogenic bacteriology and virology, and immunology. Areas of research include Bioinformatics, Cellular Microbiology, Molecular Virology and Immunology, Bacterial Biochemistry and Physiology, Bioremediation, Bacterial and Viral pathogenesis, and Molecular Parasitology. By working in the laboratory of their Ph.D. advisor, students learn to define and experimentally investigate scientific questions and to conduct original research in preparation for positions in academia, government, and industry.
The first year of studies typically is devoted to course work and to rotations in two to three laboratories. These research experiences are designed to familiarize students with the range of research interests of the department faculty and to facilitate the selection of a Ph.D. advisor. The second year is spent primarily on research in the advisor's laboratory and completion of any necessary additional coursework. With guidance from their advisor, students also define their thesis research problem during this year. In the second semester of the second year, students write and orally defend before their thesis committee a research proposal that may be related to their own research. Successful completion of this comprehensive examination results in advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D., and the successful defense of a dissertation completes the requirements for the Ph.D. in Microbiology. Our Director of Graduate Studies is Professor Steven Clegg.