College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2021-2022

Department of Biological Sciences

Biology, Doctor of Philosophy

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

The Biology Ph.D. program prepares students for research-focused professions in the biological sciences, developing students’ expertise in the empirical foundations of their dissertation area, and collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data to push forward the forefront of knowledge in their biological field of study. Our faculty members conduct research in the many fields of biology, from the level of single molecules to whole ecosystems. From the first day of entry into our program, students work closely with their faculty mentor, selecting a course of study suited to their future goals and professional interests.  The program enables graduates to contribute to the forefront of knowledge in the scientific community, share their knowledge through teaching, or apply it in public service or industry.

Students pursuing the emphasis in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology will integrate theoretical and empirical concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology to understand ecological patterns and the mediating processes that drive populations, communities and ecosystems.  Students will become familiar with ecological sampling techniques and statistical methodologies necessary to characterize populations, communities and ecosystems over broad geographic regions, and will apply current approaches for identifying and mitigating the effects of invasive species and anthropogenic impacts on threatened and endangered species within the natural ecosystems they inhabit.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Biology PhD degree, students will be able to:
  • Elucidate the major theories, research methods, approaches to inquiry and schools of practice in their biological discipline (genetics, physiology, anatomy, ecology, evolution, cell- or biochemistry, and microbiology), illustrating both the applications and relationships to other biological disciplines.
  • Integrate applied, empirical or experimental work into a broader context, incorporating and considering perspectives and methods of other fields of study.
  • Apply logical, mathematical or statistical methods most important or appropriate to the exploration of their field of study. 
  • Identify, select and defend the choice of mathematical or statistical methods or models appropriate to research questions.
  • Design and perform empirical or experimental work independently, as well as describing, analyzing, and critically evaluating experimental data.
  • Communicate biological knowledge, including results of research undertakings, and the rationale underpinning their conclusions, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously.
  • Synthesize principal ideas, techniques or methods at the forefront of the field of study.
  • Create sustained, coherent arguments or explanations summarizing his/ her work for both general and specialized audiences.
  • Provide evidence contributing to, expanding, evaluating or refining the information base within the field of study.
  • Articulate and defend the significance and implications of the work in terms of the challenges and trends of their primary field of study.
  • Conceive, design, and implement an original scientific project with the purpose of generating new knowledge.  
Students graduating with an emphasis in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation will be able to:
  • Articulate the theoretical and empirical foundations of ecology and integrate their application into thesis area
  • Provide coherent summaries and insights regarding current and emerging topics in ecology, evolution and conservation biology for both general and scientific audiences.
  • Apply quantitative methods to examine patterns, processes and anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial and aquatic environments. 
  • Examine the major theories, research methods, and inquiry approaches that scale from physiology to ecosystems.

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