Molecular and Evolutionary Systems Biology (Ph.D.)

Molecular and Evolutionary Systems Biology (Ph.D.)

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Why pursue a Ph.D. in molecular and evolutionary systems biology at UNH?

Our MESB Ph.D. program promotes interdisciplinary research, deep knowledge in specific disciplines and the technical, professional and personal skills needed by 21st-century scientists and educators. The program will equip you for leadership roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, academic and government research laboratories, and successful careers in teaching and research at the college and university level.

Program highlights

We emphasize interdisciplinary research training and co-mentorship across traditional disciplines including molecular and cellular biology; protein structure, function and regulation; signal transduction pathways; molecular evolutionary genomics; genomics and bioinformatics; and microbial ecology and evolution. Our innovative curriculum includes a focus on ethical, legal and social implications of bioscience research. You’ll have access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, becoming familiar with our facilities through lab rotations early in the program. We hold weekly graduate student seminar presentations, as well as a departmental seminar series of invited speakers. You’ll also enjoy opportunities to gain teaching experiences as a graduate teaching assistant

Potential career areas

  • College or university faculty
  • Principle investigator in a lab
  • Research director in biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries

Contact

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences
Rudman Hall
46 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
603-862-3757
mcbs.dept@unh.edu

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Curriculum & Requirements

The Ph.D. in Molecular and Evolutionary Systems Biology (MESB) is a coherently-designed doctoral program that promotes interdisciplinary research, deep knowledge in specific disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills needed by 21st century scientists and educators. Graduates of the program are equipped for leadership roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, academic and government research laboratories, and successful careers in teaching and research at the college and university level.

Distinctive Features of the Program

  • Emphasis on interdisciplinary research training including co-mentorship across traditional disciplines
  • Innovative graduate curriculum that emphasizes ethical, legal, and social implications of bioscience research
  • Well-equipped research laboratories and core facilities on the UNH campus
  • Laboratory rotations upon entry to the program to become familiar with different research laboratories
  • Weekly graduate student seminar presentations, as well as a departmental seminar series of invited speakers
  • Opportunities to gain teaching experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Research Opportunities

  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • Protein structure, function, and regulation
  • Signal transduction pathways
  • Molecular evolutionary genomics
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Microbial ecology and evolution

Financial Support

  • Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are typically supported by Research Assistantships or Teaching Assistantships
  • Intramural summer and academic year fellowships are available to students on a competitive basis.

Career Prospects

  • Research directors in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries
  • Principle investigators in academic research labs and research institutes, or state and federal government agencies
  • Research and teaching positions in a college or university environment

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of foundational courses in biology, chemistry (including organic chemistry), physics, and mathematics
    • Otherwise well-qualified applicants can correct academic deficiencies with enrollment in appropriate courses or independent study during the first year of graduate studies
  • Applicants from non-English speaking countries must provide Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores
  • International applicants living outside the U.S.A. should first complete a free online application
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement, including research interests and names of two or three potential MESB faculty thesis advisors.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for the MESB Ph.D. degree include a series of core courses in scientific communication, applied bioinformatics, and ethical, legal, and social implications of modern biotechnology, as well as a research proposal, qualifying examinations, and the completion of a dissertation.

Research Proposal and Oral Defense: No later than at the conclusion of the second full semester of dissertation research (typically the third semester if rotating), students prepare a succinct synopsis of their thesis project, including citations. The synopsis includes:

  1. Background: a summary of problem and general knowledge in the field.
  2. Hypotheses, Questions, and Relevance: articulates specific hypotheses, questions to be addressed, and importance of research.
  3. Approach: a general description of approaches with caveats, possible problems, alternative approaches, and resources of expertise.
  4. Timeline: a general timeline for completion of the work.
  5. Communication: potential audiences for the work (meetings, publications).

Students submit this synopsis to their guidance committee who will provide input in a committee meeting, which should take place no later than the end of the third semester. Upon review by the guidance committee, students defend their proposal in an oral examination.

Qualifying Examination: The inter-disciplinarity inherent in the MESB graduate program requires that students integrate their training and research objectives across different fields of inquiry. This integration across fields is intended to foster unique perspectives on persistent questions in biology. To demonstrate the significance of the new perspectives reflected in their research proposals, students must also submit a written qualifying examination. Written qualifying examinations may take the form of a review or synthesis article that emphasizes the integration of the research disciplines of the primary and secondary mentors and the significance of this integration given the proposed research problem. The specific format and outline of the written examination will be determined by the guidance committee. Once complete, the written qualifying examination will be submitted to, and assessed by, the guidance committee on a pass/fail basis.

Advancement to Candidacy: The student is advanced to candidacy after the qualifying examination has been successfully passed and other requirements have been fulfilled.

All MCBS graduates will be able to:

  • Critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge to address fundamental questions in their primary area of study.
  • Pursue research of significance in the discipline (or an interdisciplinary or creative project). Students plan and conduct this research (or implement their project) under the guidance of an advisor, while developing intellectual independence that typifies true scholarship.
  • Demonstrate skills in oral and written communication sufficient to present and publish work in their field, and to prepare grant proposals.
  • Follow the principles of ethics in their field, and in academia.
  • Demonstrate, through service, the value of their discipline to the academy and community at large.
  • Demonstrate a mastery of skills and knowledge at a level required for college and university undergraduate teaching in their discipline and assessment of student learning.
  • Interact productively with all individuals from diverse backgrounds in the roles of team members, leaders and mentors with integrity and professionalism.

Graduates of the Molecular and Evolutionary Systems Biology Ph. D program will be able to:

  • Describe general concepts of molecular evolution and systems biology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design, execute, and analyze research in their area of specialization within molecular evolution and systems biology.
  • Critically evaluate hypotheses and form conclusions based on the analysis of genomic, and/or other types of biologically derived multivariate datasets.

Deadlines

Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: 12/15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.

Transcripts

If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts are required for any school you earned a degree from, attended for at least one year, or attended for 2 or more semesters. Exceptions to this rule may be approved at the discretion of the program you are applying to and the UNH Graduate School Admission’s office.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement that includes the following: 1) the reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives, 2) your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field, and 3) a review of MCBS graduate program faculty research descriptions and the identification by name of two or three potential mentors for your graduate studies.

Statements must be included with your submitted application.

Additional Department Requirements

Please note the GRE is no longer required.  No GRE score is needed to apply.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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