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About the Program

Microorganisms are the smallest living things, the oldest form of life on earth, ubiquitous in the biosphere and central to many of the essential life processes on earth. The microbiology curriculum emphasizes the uniqueness of microbial biology, its enormous diversity, and the biochemical basis of microbial life.

The curriculum examines the diverse roles of microorganisms and covers the fundamentals of microbial diversity, physiology and genetics. The focus is on microorganisms, microbial processes in natural and managed environments and their effects on human, animal, plant and environmental health. The curriculum provides students with a fundamental understanding of the various applications of microbes in biotechnology, the food industry, agriculture, and medicine. The curriculum examines the nature and activity of microbial populations in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the interactions within microbial communities, and biogeochemical cycles and energy flows. Recent advances in microbial molecular biology and biotechnology have led to an in-depth understanding of the physiology, genetics and taxonomy of microbes. The field of microbiology is a major contributor toward industrial development, human, animal and plant health, environmental integrity and agricultural productivity. Microbes are central to the food, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and are broadly utilized from food fermentations and biosynthesis to biodegradation of toxic chemicals.

The primary objectives of the curriculum are to broadly educate students on the biology of microorganisms. The curriculum prepares students for positions in industry, government and graduate/professional study in life sciences through extensive course work combined with laboratory and research experience.

Program Learning Goals

  1. Graduates will gain a broad knowledge of the biology of microorganisms focusing on microbial processes and their effects on other organisms and the environment, microbial communities and biogeochemical cycles.
  2. Graduates will be microbiologists able to use the scientific method to formulate questions and hypotheses, design experiments, employ appropriate methodology to solve problems in microbiology, and have the ability to analyze, interpret and present scientific data in microbiology.
  3. Graduates will be critical thinkers with effective written and oral communication skills; well prepared for positions in industry, government and graduate/professional study.
  4. Graduates will have a fundamental understanding of ethical and current issues in microbiology and appreciate a code of ethics for microbiologists including ethical conduct, scientific integrity and the dignity of the profession and practice of microbiology.