The goals of the program are for the students to be able to:
1. Display diversified knowledge of biological concepts, theories and research techniques covered by the core courses and in each student’s area of specialization
- Integrate knowledge across biological sub-disciplines
- Understand key concepts of molecular, cellular, developmental and biochemical biology such as structure determines function, information storage & processing, signal reception and processing, regulation, movement, and adaptation.
- Understand key concepts of evolutionary biology and ecology including the origin of life, natural selection, population and quantitative genetics, ecosystem dynamics, population biology, community ecology, and behavioral ecology.
- Demonstrate ability to derive hypotheses (based on theory) and testable predictions across biological sub-disciplines
- Demonstrate knowledge of form, function, mechanism, organization, scale, hierarchy, diversity and evolution
- Show mastery of subject area- demonstrated by course work, qualifying and comprehensive exams and thesis defense
2. Integrate new knowledge into existing scientific frameworks
- Interpret, evaluate, and critique scientific text, primary literature and seminars
- Structure and contextualize understanding with proper references to literature
- Speculate on significance of scientific data and possible future directions
- Employ a multidisciplinary approach to biological research
3. Engage in and conduct original research
- Use texts, primary literature, presentations and mathematical models to develop scientific hypotheses and predictions based on those hypotheses.
- Appropriately design and perform original experiments and/or collect empirical data in order to test hypotheses
- Organize and interpret data to evaluate hypotheses and place findings into an intellectual framework to plan further experiments
- Use computers in data acquisition and processing and use available software as a tool in data analysis
- Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical
- Know and follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals.
4. Represent and interpret data in quantitative and statistically meaningful forms
- Construct and interpret visual representations of quantitative data
- Use probability and statistical analyses to evaluate and interpret data
5. Communicate scientific understanding in oral, visual, and written forms
- Ability to effectively communicate scientific information, concepts, theories and methods to professional colleagues (specialists), biologists, students and the public.
6. Appreciate ethical conduct in science (see NAP.EDU “On Being a Scientist” (1995) (Manifest leadership and social responsibility) including
- The social aspects of scientific pursuit
- Experimental techniques and the treatment of data
- Treatment of human and non-human animal subjects
- Values in science
- Conflicts of interest
- Publication, openness, data access
- The allocation of credit
- Authorship practices
- Error and negligence in science
- Misconduct in science and responses to violations of ethical standards
- The scientist in society
7. Develop a skill set and research record such that they can secure employment in universities, federal agencies, private companies or non-governmental organizations where they can apply the skills and knowledge acquired during the program.