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Department of Biological Sciences

    Ph.D. / M.S. Research Program

    We offer research-based doctoral and master's Degrees.  As a research student, you'll work under the guidance and supervision of a professor with the additional guidance of a faculty supervisory committee, take courses as appropriate, and develop and execute a body of research which results in a dissertation (Ph.D.) or thesis (M.S.). 

    Research Areas

    Because of the extraordinary breadth of biology, the faculty are loosely organized in three general areas. However, faculty interests and activities often integrate multiple and diverse research themes. We have several main departmental research groups (EE, MCDB and Plant), as well as specific research interests of individual faculty. If you are a prospective student, please contact us with any questions you have about research opportunities.

    This area of biology recognizes that biological and ecological systems interrelate and interact. Our faculty focus on understanding how these diverse systems function in the broader context of the organism and its environment, as well as how environments interact with the organisms they support.

    Our research systems include animals (vertebrate and invertebrate), plants and microbes. Research disciplines include ecology, evolutionary biology, behavior, physiology and neurobiology, developmental biology and computational biology including modeling and bioinformatics. Research facilities include fully equipped laboratories and excellent field sites. The composite intellectual framework is that a biological system, whether genetic, molecular, developmental, physiological, ecological or evolutionary, can best be understood by accounting for interactions with other systems.

    Students are woven into this intellectual framework through collaborations among overlapping groups of faculty. These groups share a common goal of decoding the complexity underlying biological systems.

    How is the brain wired during development? What factors regulate the renewal and differentiation of stem cells? How do cells and organs develop and communicate with each other? How does the DNA repair itself? How do tumors grow and modify their environment? You can works towards answering these fascinating questions by joining MCDB labs in the Department of Biological Sciences. Our faculty study a broad range of disciplines ranging from neurobiology, stem cell biology, cancer biology, developmental biology and genetics to investigate how cells function and interact with their environment during development, disease, or in response to injury. We use cutting-edge genetic, proteomic, molecular, biochemical and in vivo physiological approaches to explore the most fundamental questions in biology and provide a multidisciplinary training in a highly collegial environment.  Departmental seminars and journal clubs serve to provide an intellectually stimulating environment. 

    Students who join the program may directly join a laboratory that aligns with their interests, or have the option to complete laboratory rotations during their first year to explore the diverse research interests of the program before choosing a mentor and laboratory for their dissertation research.

    The Plant Sciences Group at the University of South Carolina is internationally recognized for excellence in plant biology, spanning the molecular, cellular, organismal and ecosystem levels. 

    Members of the group have a diversity of research interests aimed at understanding how plants develop and how they respond and adapt to their environment. Specific interest include molecular signaling in responses to pathogens and herbivores, flower development, small RNA biology, post-transcriptional gene silencing, iron transport and homeostasis, phytoplankton photosynthesis and aquatic primary production, wetland ecology, biomass production and nanotechnology, and evolutionary ecology.

    We conduct controlled studies in the USC greenhouse and the numerous high quality environmental growth facilities. Members of the group carry out field studies in various sites around South Carolina, the US Rocky Mountains, and the Brazilian Pantanal. Graduate students in the plant sciences take advantage of a highly interactive group that features a monthly plant seminar series, a plant-specific curriculum, and a number of travel and research awards. We are a collaborative group of researchers who share a deep interest in advancing the field of plant biology.

    Learn more about research in our department.


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