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Washington State University Factsheets

Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biosciences

Faculty working with Students: 64
Students: 44
Students receiving assistantships or scholarships: 100%
Priority deadline:
  • Fall ----- December 15
Campus:
  • Pullman: Yes
Tests required:
  • 600 TOEFL Minimum score
  • 100 TOEFLI Minimum score
  • GRE

Degree Description:

Molecular Biosciences is a dynamic continuum of disciplines, which uses the approaches of chemistry, physics, and biology to understand the fundamental mechanisms of living organisms. The School of Molecular Biosciences offers many exciting opportunities for graduate students to explore the vast range of life science research. Representative disciplines include biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, structural biology, and virology.

Admission Requirements:

Students wishing to pursue graduate studies in Molecular Biosciences should have an undergraduate major in biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genetics, microbiology, biology, chemistry, or closely related fields. In your application you will need to submit: a personal statement describing your qualifications, goals, and objectives in pursuing graduate research in molecular biosciences; official GRE scores; official transcripts from all colleges attended; three letters of recommendation; the School of Molecular Biosciences supplemental application available on-line at the SMB web page; and the Graduate School application.

The deadline for your application to the Molecular Biosciences graduate program is December 15. Late applications may be considered depending on space availability.

Student Learning Outcome:

All graduates will be able to:

  1. Trainees will gain research expertise that is interdisciplinary, spanning the areas of cellular, molecular and structural biology, and receive focused training in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics or microbiology. This outcome will be demonstrated by their ability to:
    • Develop the skills to critically read and evaluate molecular biosciences literature and place new findings in the context of the previous and current research in their general discipline and specific field of expertise.
    • Develop testable hypotheses based on an in-depth understanding of previous and current research, and design experimental approaches to successfully test the hypothesis. Evaluate experimental results critically, including quantitative analyses, and formulate   a defensible conclusion. Demonstrate technical competency in appropriate methodologies from the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics and microbiology.
  2. Trainees will have opportunities to master various professional skills, particularly in the areas of communication, mentoring and leadership. Success in this outcome will be demonstrated by students’ ability to:
    • Communicate their research results and its importance to experts in their field as well as general lay audiences, effectively in both written and oral form.
    • Understand and follow norms of scientific ethics, including concepts of publication ethics and responsible conduct in research.
    • Exhibit proficiency in mentoring and teaching, including development of leadership skills.
  3. SMB will enhance the quality and the number of its graduate student cadre by demonstrating the value of the SMB graduate training experience. Achievement of this outcome will be demonstrated by:
    • Maintaining and improving the quality of applicants who are recruited into the SMB graduate program, including successful recruiting of underrepresented minority students and participating in Research Assistantship for Diversity Scholar program (RADS) through the Graduate School and recruiting to NIH-funded pre-doctoral training grants in Protein Biotechnology. Additionally, being proactive in increasing the success of the STARS program.
    • Providing effective technical and professional training that allows students to complete their participating in Research Assistantship for Diversity Scholar program (RADS) through the Graduate School and recruiting to NIH-funded pre-doctoral training grants in Protein Biotechnology. Additionally, being proactive in increasing the success of the STARS program.
    • Sustaining a research infrastructure built around accomplished, innovative faculty dedicated to research and training in an interdisciplinary environment.

Student Opportunities:

Students entering into the School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB) in the College of Veterinary Medicine will pursue an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biosciences. Entering students do rotations through three research laboratories to choose a dissertation/thesis advisor. Over 50 research laboratories are associated with the School of Molecular Biosciences (see the faculty interest page), investigating problems in diverse systems, including bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals. Graduates acquire a breadth and depth of knowledge that allows them to adapt quickly to new information and approaches developed in the rapidly changing field of molecular biosciences.

Students interested in a Ph.D. degree in the Molecular Biosciences will participate in the Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences (iPBS). The iPBS umbrella encompasses three participating programs: Molecular Biosciences, Neurosciences, and Immunology and Infectious Diseases programs. Students admitted to the SMB graduate program will undertake three lab rotations. Based on their rotation experiences and developing research interests, students have the option to change their Ph.D. degree goal within the three participating programs in the first semester. The iPBS offers longitudinal professional development opportunities for all Ph.D. students in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Career Opportunities:

Alumni have gone on to high-profile postdoctoral opportunities and successful careers in academic and industrial sciences, especially in the biotechnology industry. Career opportunities include positions in food, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, private or government laboratories and departments, and nonprofit institutions such as clinical and hospital laboratories and research institutes. With the advent of the “biological revolution,” which will continue well into the 21st century, new opportunities with links to the worlds of public health, business, law, and government are ever expanding.

Career Placements:

Postdoctoral positions in nationally renowned laboratories at University of California, Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania Wistar Institute, Washington University in St. Lois, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Institute, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Faculty positions at tier-one research universities and outstanding undergraduate institutions such as the University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, Texas Tech, and the U.S. Naval Acadamy.
Industrial positions at Amgen, Battelle, Infections Disease Research Institute, Kemin Industries, Miltenyi Biotechnology, Myriad Genetics, PathoGenesis, and Sunesis.

Faculty Members:

Alderete, John F, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Parasite and host cell-tissue interactions focused on proteins that contribute to infection and disease pathogenesis in Trichomonas vaginalis.

Bankhead, Troy, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Mechanisms of persistence and virulence associated with the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.

Black, Margaret, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular evolution, pathway engineering and extensive in vitro and in vivo analyses to improve and evaluate suicide genes for gene therapy of cancer.

Brayton, Kelly A, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Functional genomics of vector-borne pathogens.

Brosemer, Ronald, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Brown, Wendy

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Browse, John A, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Lipid and membrane biochemistry, pathways and regulation of lipid synthesis and membrane formation in higher plants, chilling and freezing tolerance in plants.

Call, Douglas Ruben, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Mechanisms that lead to the emergence, amplification, persistence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance in food animal production systems.

Carabeo, Rey, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Chlamydia trachomatis-epithelium interaction using 3D cell culture systems, Molecular biology of iron-dependent repression of transcription in Chlamydia

Celli, Jean, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms of Brucella abortus modulation of host cell functions.

Chai, Weihang, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Telomere structure, maintenance and function.

Chandra, Murali, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Regulation of the contractile machinery of heart muscle cells, and how myofilament remodeling is linked to pathogenesis of heart diseases.

Cooper, Cynthia, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Zebrafish developmental mechanisms.

Cornejo, Omar Eduardo, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Evolutionary genomics and population genetics

Davis, William C, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Driskell, Ryan, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

The core mission of the Driskell Laboratory is to investigate mechanisms that will induce regeneration in skin wounds utilizing fibroblast lineages.

Gloss, Lisa M, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Goodman, Alan, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Animal models of microbial infection, Computational models for functional genomics and signaling pathways

Griswold, Michael D, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Biochemistry and molecular biology of mammalian spermatogenesis with emphasis on testicular somatic cells.

Harding, Joseph W, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Develop peptide- and peptidomimetic-pharmaceuticals for the treatment of dementia, cancer, and deficits in wound healing.

Hardy, Michele, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Enteric viruses, innate and gut mucosal immune responses

Haseltine, Cynthia A, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Mechanisms of homologous recombination and cellular responses to DNA damage in hyperthermophilic archaeal microbes.

Hassold, Terry, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Meiotic chromosome abnormalities.

Helmick, Consetta M, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Her, Chengtao, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Application of the state-of-the-art genomics and proteomics approaches to address fundamental questions related to mammalian DNA mismatch repair pathways.

Hinz, John, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Hunt, Patricia Ann, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Meiosis in mammalian germ cell development.

Jones, Jonathan, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Understanding how the behavior of epithelial cells is regulated by signaling initiated by ligand (extracellular matrix)-receptor interaction.

Kahn, Michael L, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Biochemistry, genetics and physiology of metabolism in the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between rhizobia and legume plants.

Kang, Chulhee, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair on graduate committee

Research Interests

SR Calcium Regulation in Cardiac Muscle
Biochemical approaches for cancer-associated proteins and UV-damaged DNA to develop anticancer drugs. Enzyme and Plant engineering for effective generation for biofuel.

Kelley, Joanna, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Evolutionary genomics and adaptation by statistical, molecular and genomic approaches to identify/characterize specific genes and pathways.

Kim, Kwanhee, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Vitamin A signaling circuitry in reproductive organs, Reproductive toxicology by plasticizer phthalates.

Knodler, Leigh, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Salmonella-intestinal epithelial cell interactions.

Konkel, Michael Edward, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Bacterial pathogenesis, identification and characterization of virulence determinants in Campylobacter jejuni.

Lange, Bernd M, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Characterizing the interface between primary and secondary metabolic pathways, with particular emphasis on the biosynthesis of terpenoids.

Magnuson, Nancy

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

McCabe, Norah Rosaleen, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Mixter, Philip Fowler, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Nicola, Anthony, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair on graduate committee

Research Interests

Cell biology of virus-host interactions, herpesviruses, viral entry, membrane fusion, envelope glycoproteins, viral pathogenesis

Nilson, John

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Oatley, Jon Michael, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms that control the fate of germline stem cells and the determinants of the stem cell niche in mammalian testes.

Pru, James K, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Maternal embryonic interactions and endometrial regeneration.

Reeves, Raymond

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Roberts, Kenneth Patrick, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Epididymal sperm maturation and sperm function.

Roberts, Steven, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Genome dynamics: mechanisms of mutation and chromosome alteration that contribute to human disease. Mutagenesis of ssDNA in cancer.

Rodgers, Buel D, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular endocrinology and genomics of muscle development.

Sanchez-Lanier, Mary, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Shelden, Eric A, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Cytoskeletal regulation and dynamics during injury, migration and differentiation of mammalian cells.

Smerdon, Michael J, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Our broad objective is to understand the molecular details of an important defense mechanism (DNA repair) against phenotypic changes in cells, and its modulation by different chromatin domains.

Steber, Camille M, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Characterization of stress resistance genes and mechanisms, & improvement and genotyping of wheat and barley germplasm for the Western U.S.

Sylvester, Steven, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

In my laboratory, we view the world at the molecular level with a bent toward reproductive processes. We try to identify molecules in the environment that may alter reproductive processes in plants and animals. We are currently trying to identify pheromones in a introduced predatory snail that costs the oyster industry millions of dollars per year. We are also trying to regulate reproduction in fish to improve protein production, reduce wastes, and restore populations. On the human side, we are trying to understand the processes by which contaminants accumulate in breast milk.

Tanner, Bertrand, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Research focus on normal, mutated, and diseased proteins that influence muscle contraction and relaxation dynamics. We often integrate mathematical modeling, computational simulations, biochemical assays, and biophysical system-analysis to investigate complex network behavior among muscle proteins.

Thomas, Kawula, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Thomashow, Linda S, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular genetics of bacterial-plant and bacterial-fungal interactions.

Trobridge, Grant, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

1) Foamy vectors for hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy (AIDS)
2) Cancer research
3) Vector-mediated genotoxicity/oncogenicity

Vadyvaloo, Viveka, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Arthropod-borne zoonotic infectious diseases, including the etiological agent of the bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis.

Walker, Brendan, PhD

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular, genetic and epigenetic contributors to maladaptive behavioral dysregulation in alcohol dependence and neuropsychiatric disorders

Wang, Susan, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Mechanistic enzymology (“unusual” enzyme catalysis) and antibiotic biosynthesis.

Watts, Jennifer L, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Genetics and genomics of lipid metabolism and fat storage in C. elegans.

Wayman, Gary, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

The primary focus of our lab’s research is to determine the molecular and cellular mechanism by which synaptic activity and neurotrophic factors influence neuronal development.

Winuthayanon, Wipawee, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Ovarian hormonal regulation in the female reproductive track during early pregnancy

Wyrick, John Jason, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Regulation of eukaryotic genome expression, histone acetylation, and the development of new functional genomic and bioinformatic tools.

Xu, Jun, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

We study cognition and emotion in mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. mental retardation, autism, and mood disorder). Specifically, we carry out analyses that focus on epigenetic chromatin remodeling which integrates the behavioral impacts of genetics, physiology, and early life experience.

Xun, Luying, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Molecular biology and biochemistry of microbial degradation and biotransformation of xenobiotics and environmental pollutants.

Contact Information:

Kay Brothers
PO Box 647520
Pullman, WA 99164-7520
509-335-9376
509-335-4159
Tami Breske
PO Box 647520
Biotechnology Life Sciences 102C
Pullman, WA 99164-7520
509-335-4318
509-335-1907