Graduate Program Learning Goals

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.