The faculty offers a comprehensive program of study and research and provides specialties in most fields of plant biology. Greenhouse and research facilities and equipment are extensive. Students may do fieldwork in several experiment stations, farms, research stations, a nearby primeval forest ecosystem, an old field, and ancient habitats. A seminar series of invited scientists provides rich opportunities for students during graduate study.
The faculty offers the master's degree without thesis, the master's degree with thesis, applied master's degree with thesis or without thesis (in applied areas of field research), and the doctoral degree. Required undergraduate preparation normally includes calculus, general and organic chemistry, physics, general biology or equivalent, genetics, and some botanical training. Some undergraduate training in biochemistry and/or molecular biology is recommended as background for the core curriculum. Students with strong academic records and other evidence of scholarly talents or promise are encouraged to apply. Submission of the Graduate Record Examination score is required. A variety of fellowships and teaching and research assistantships are available.
The graduate faculty includes members from several units, including the departments of plant biology and pathology; biochemistry and microbiology; landscape architecture; ecology, evolution, and natural resources; and environmental sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the biological sciences department of the School of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick. Faculty also may be affiliated with the Center for Theoretical and Applied Genetics, the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Turfgrass Science.
Students in the plant biology program may choose from four research and curriculum tracks: (1) molecular and cellular biology, (2) plant breeding and genomics, (3) horticulture and technology, and (4) pathology. The core curriculum draws on courses from the four tracks. Additional curriculum requirements are tailored to students' individual interests. The tracks are interwoven, and members of the graduate faculty may be involved in more than one track. Students are encouraged to take courses in more than one track.
Students in the molecular and cellular biology track may specialize in photosynthesis, carbon metabolism and partitioning, developmental physiology and genetics, growth regulation, nitrogen metabolism, ion uptake and electrophysiology, molecular biology of subcellular organelles, regulation of gene expression, genetic transformation of plants, senescence, ripening of fruit, seed germination, water relations, tissue culture, comparative or developmental anatomy and morphology, or ultrastructure.
Students in the plant
breeding and genomics track have the opportunity to study a broad range of
topics related to plant breeding from cultivar development, tissue culture,
gene mapping, and biochemical mechanisms to the latest discoveries in plant
genomics and bioinformatics. The plant breeding faculty conduct research on an
array of different traits, including, but not limited to, higher quality and
greater yield of fruit, fiber and other plant constituents, resistance to biotic
stresses caused by disease and insect pests, resistance to abiotic stresses
such as heat and drought, and specialty products such as novel fatty acids,
proteins, and other plant metabolites. Students will gain experience on a diverse
range of vegetable, horticultural, and pomological crops including specialty
crops like cranberry, blueberry, hazelnuts, dogwoods, hollies, turgrasses,
peaches, apples, tomatoes, and biofuels. Students will gain experience with both
traditional and DNA-based marker-facilitated selection schemes. Students will
gain credentials that are desired to direct or lead plant breeding research at
private companies or public institutions. Work experience on the various plant
breeding projects often is available for students majoring in plant breeding.
The horticulture and plant technology track focuses on coursework and research activity associated with plant biology as it relates to agriculture. A wide diversity of student interests is served by this track, from fundamental investigations of plant function at the molecular level to studies of how environment and biotic stress affect crop production. Students with interests in agricultural biotechnology; plant breeding and genetics; plant physiology, growth, and development; and plant interaction with the environment are supported by this track.
Among the issues that students in the plant pathology track may address are host/pathogen interactions, epidemiology and control of plant disease, plant virology, bacteriology, mycoplasmology, mycology, molecular biology of plant pathogenic or endophytic microorganisms, and biotechnology.
The master's degree without thesis requires 31 course credits and 1 credit for a paper. The master's degree with thesis requires 26 course credits, 6 research credits, and a research thesis. For the doctoral degree, 72 credits with a minimum of 32 course credits and a minimum of 34 research credits, a research thesis, and one academic year in residence are required. There is no language requirement. Prospective students are invited to visit the program's website or to write the program director for the Guide to Graduate Study in Plant Biology and the Faculty Research Interests. Both books provide additional information.
In addition to the graduate courses described below, consult those courses listed under biochemistry, ecology and evolution, environmental sciences, microbiology and molecular genetics, and statistics. Many advanced undergraduate courses (400 level) listed in the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Undergraduate Catalog, the Rutgers University-Camden Undergraduate Catalog, and the Rutgers University-Newark Undergraduate Catalog may be used for graduate credit.