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Molecular Biosciences

Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College: College of Science and Mathematics

Description

The cross-disciplinary Molecular Biosciences field is revolutionizing discovery and technological advances in disciplines ranging from agriculture to medicine, from forensics to environmental sciences, from food sciences to renewable energy. The Molecular Biosciences Doctoral Program provides training and research opportunities that integrate molecular, genomic, cellular and developmental information, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches, state-of-the-art technologies and innovations addressing real world problems.

The mission of the program is to produce scientists with sufficient background and training to advance the field of Molecular Biosciences. Molecular Biosciences addresses classical and contemporary problems in biology through creative integration of molecular, genomic, cellular and developmental information. Among other topics Molecular Biosciences research may include the study of biomolecular interactions, the engineering and design of metabolic pathways to produce bioactive molecules, bioinformatics, discovery and development of novel biomaterials, and process development and scale-up.

Deadline:  Applications are accepted till February 15th for Fall admissions and till July 15th for Spring admissions.

  • Admission Requirements

    Admission Requirements

    Students seeking admission into the Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biosciences Program must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School in addition to the program’s specific requirements.

    Each applicant must have a minimum of a B.S. in a basic or applied science, although preference may be given to M.S. level applicants. In addition to official transcripts, applicants must also provide official Graduate Record Examination scores for the Verbal, Analytical and Quantitative tests. The minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative scores must be 1000. Although not required, scores from an advanced test related to Molecular Biosciences may increase a candidate’s chance for admission. Once the basic Graduate School application requirements are met, applications will be forwarded to the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee for their consideration and determination for student admission. Applicants are advised that admission to the Graduate School does not imply admission to the Molecular Biosciences Ph.D. Program. Other materials required of MBS applicants are three letters of recommendation and a statement of research interests that includes identification of possible faculty mentors. Foreign applicants must also meet the requirements of the Office of International Programs.

  • How to Apply

    Admission to the Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences Degree Program

    Applicants to the Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences Program must have a minimum of a B.S. in a basic or applied science, although preference may be given to M.S. level applicants.  Applicants must submit the following to the Graduate School by February 15 for consideration for Fall admission:

    1. A completed online application for admission to the A-State Graduate School (or to the Office of International Programs for international students). 
    2. One copy of official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate course work attempted, to be sent directly from the institution(s) previously attended. 
    3. Three letters of recommendation.
    4. A personal statement (maximum of two pages) describing the student’s academic and research goals. 
    5. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the Verbal, Analytical and Quantitative tests.  The minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative scores must be 1000 (old scoring system), tests using the new scoring system, minimum of 150 on both the verbal & quantitative required.
  • Program Information

    Graduate Student Support

    Any university support, whether as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or as a Graduate Research Assistant, will be awarded competitively through the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee. Students may also be supported from faculty research grants. 

    Doctoral Advisory Committees

    During the first year of their program of study, each student is expected to identify a Doctoral Advisory Committee Chair to direct the research of the student and who must be approved by the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee and the graduate dean. In addition to the chair, the Doctoral Advisory Committee will consist of members of the graduate faculty and other professionals as deemed appropriate and approved by the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee, the Molecular Biosciences Program director and the graduate dean. Each committee must have at least four members. The Doctoral Advisory Committee is to review the student’s dissertation proposal, administer the Qualifying and Candidacy Exams and provide guidance toward the successful completion of the research project.

    Students in the program without a designated committee chair during their first semester will be assigned an interim adviser by the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee and the graduate dean. The primary role of the interim adviser will be to establish a tentative curriculum for the student, pending establishment of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. An interim adviser may serve for a maximum of one year until a permanent advisory committee chair is selected.

    Membership of Advisory Committees may be changed if either the student or a member of their committee feels that such a change is appropriate and the requested change is approved by the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee and the graduate dean. Such a change will not be approved except in clearly unusual circumstances. If approval is given, the student will be notified in writing by the Graduate School.

    General Program Of Study

    A program of study, to be developed by the Doctoral Advisory Committee in consultation with the student, is to be submitted to the Director of the Molecular Biosciences Program for approval no later than one calendar year after admission to the program. As a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, a course of study will be tailored to each student’s own scholarly interests, research, and proposed career direction. General course requirements are outlined on the Molecular Biosciences home page under “Program of Study for the Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences”.

    Each Doctoral Advisory Committee will meet at least once a year to review and provide a written report of the student’s progress. 

    Satisfactory Progress

    Students are required to earn a grade of “B” or better in all courses attempted. A single instance of a grade below "C" within the student's immediate research topic area will be accepted for courses outside the student’s immediate research topic area. A second instance of a grade of “C” or a single instance of a grade below “C” will be cause for the review of the student’s status within the program by the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee. After such review, the Program Committee may recommend dismissal of the student from the program.

    Time To Degree

    A minimum of 72 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree or 45 graduate credits beyond the master’s degree is required. All requirements for the degree must be completed within eight calendar years of admission to the program. Requirements subsequent to admission to candidacy must be completed within four calendar years of admission to candidacy.

    A student exceeding the time limit may be required to repeat the qualifying examination, replace out-of-date credits with up-to-date ones, and/or show other evidence of being cur-rent within both the core curriculum and the student’s area of specialization. Extension of the eight-year requirement will be granted only if a student has obtained prior approval from his or her Doctoral Advisory Committee, the Molecular Biosciences Program Committee and the Arkansas State University Graduate School.

    Qualifying Examination

    The student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee will administer a Qualifying Examination as one means of assessing a student’s preparedness for doctoral level study. This exam will consist of the student’s written dissertation proposal which is then orally defended. The student may be required to take additional academic work at the discretion of the committee. All dissertation research proposals must be approved by the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee through the mechanism of a dissertation proposal seminar. It is the responsibility of the student to file an announcement of the seminar with the program office at least two weeks in advance of the seminar. The seminar will be an open forum. The candidate will be notified in writing of the committee’s approval. If required by the committee, the candidate may hold a second seminar in order to meet the committee’s approval. This exam must be taken during the third semester, and successfully completed no later than the end of the fourth semester.

    Admission To Candidacy

    A student may apply for admission to candidacy upon successful completion of the Qualifying Examination and defense of the dissertation proposal. A student may not apply for candidacy while on probation or with a GPA of less than 3.00.

    Candidacy Examination

    The Candidacy Examination is designed to assess a student’s ability to develop and defend a hypothesis-driven research proposal outside the area of the student’s thesis project. The selected topic must be approved by the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee. The format of the proposal will follow that of either NSF or NIH guidelines or another federal agency approved by the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee. The seminar will include an open forum and, if required, may involve a second seminar in order to meet with the Doctoral Advisory Committee’s approval. This exam must be completed within one year after passing the Qualifying Exam. 

    Dissertation Defense

    After the research is completed, the student will submit a draft of the dissertation to his or her Doctoral Advisory Committee. Upon the recommendation of the Committee, the candidate will arrange with the chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee to schedule and conduct a presentation of the results.

    The candidate will also be required to orally defend the dissertation before the Doctoral Advisory Committee, members of the faculty, students and interested persons. Arrangements for the dissertation defense will be made through the Molecular Biosciences Program Office, but announced by the Graduate School. Students are advised to be aware of the deadlines set by the Graduate School for submission of defense results and dissertations. 

    The defense must occur at least four weeks before the date of graduation. A successful defense receives no more than one negative vote by the members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. Failure of the defense requires a one semester probation before a second defense can be scheduled. A second failure of the defense results in elimination from the program.

    Deadline For Submission

    The completed dissertation must follow the format requirements of the Graduate School as contained in the Guide to Dissertations and Theses: Preparation and Electronic Submissions. Before submission online, the completed dissertation must be approved by the advisory committee. Candidates will also be responsible for the preparation of an abstract of the dissertation, not to exceed 350 words, which will be submitted with the completed dissertation.

    The student is required to purchase four copies of the bound dissertation for the  A-State Library, the Graduate School, the Molecular Biosciences Program Office, and the dissertation advisor.

    Checklist for the Last Semester Before Graduation 
    1. In the last semester before graduation, candidates must register for the graduation fee.
    2. File an Intent to Graduate Form with the graduate dean by the relevant deadline.
    3. Complete the oral defense of the dissertation.
    4. Submit the dissertation by the relevant deadline.
  • Curriculum

    Curriculum

    All candidates for a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biosciences are required to complete or have completed the specified core courses and elective courses, or their equivalent, as directed by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee. All candidates must attend every Molecular Biosciences Seminar when in residence on campus. Each Ph.D. student must complete a minimum of 15 hours of Molecular Biosciences approved course work (including the specified 9 credits in Core Technical courses, 1 credit in Responsible Conduct in Research and 4 credits from the Techniques in Molecular Biosciences course). Students must also take the Seminar in Molecular Biosciences every semester plus a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation research credits along with any other academic studies required by the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee. The committee may alter or require additional academic work as it deems appropriate to meet the student’s specific program needs. The committee will also provide a written plan of study by semester for each student.

    Courses required of all candidates:

    • MBS 6213 Advanced Cell Biology 
    • MBS 6233 Specialized Biochemistry 
    • MBS 6243 Molecular Genetics and Genomics 
    • MBS 6251-3 Techniques in Molecular Biosciences 
    • MBS 7111 Seminar in Molecular Biosciences (every semester) 
    • MBS 7151 Responsible Conduct in Research 
    • MBS 8891-12 Dissertation 

    Any additional coursework requirements will be determined by the Doctoral Advisory Committee to meet the student's specific program needs. Each candidate for the Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences must execute an original and rigorous research project culminating in the completion and defense of a dissertation.

    Minimum hours required for this program: 72 or 45 plus a master's degree

  • Molecular Biosciences Fact Sheet

    Description/Overview

    The PhD in Molecular Biosciences encompasses the areas of biotechnology, cell biology, computational biology, immunology, food safety, neurobiology, regulation of gene expression, signal transduction and cellular metabolism, and structural biology. 

    The program emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches, state-of-the-art technologies and innovation that allow students the opportunities to engage in research in genomic, proteomic, cellular, and organ-based systems for the purpose of translating this knowledge into applications benefitting society in fields ranging from agriculture to medicine, from forensics to environmental sciences, from food sciences to renewable energy. 

    Admission Requirements

    General

    To be admitted to the program you must have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in a basic or applied science, although preference may be given to Master of Science level applicants. In addition, the following requirements should be met.

    1. Graduate School Application and Fee
    2. Official transcripts from each college or university as attended
    3. A  minimum 3.00 GPA on any previous graduate courses completed at either Arkansas State University or another accredited university
    4. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale

    Program Specific

    1.  A completed online application for admission to the ASU Graduate School (or to the Office
       of International Programs for international students)
    2. One copy of official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate course work attempted, to be sent directly from the institution(s) previously attended
    3. Three letters of recommendation
    4.  A personal statement (maximum of two pages) describing the student’s academic and research goals
    5. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the Verbal, Analytical and Quantitative tests. Minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative scores must be 1000 (old scoring system), tests using the new scoring system, minimum of 150 on both the verbal & quantitative required.

    The MBS program committee will review the application materials and make recommendations for admission.

    Research Facilities

    Graduate study in Molecular Biosciences is facilitated by well-equipped individual faculty research laboratories, field stations, and teaching laboratories.

    In addition, the state-of-the-art research facilities including a green house, growth chambers, cell culture facility, advanced imaging suites and a well maintained animal facility present at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute in the A-State campus are readily available to the graduate students.  Since faculty participate in the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program engage in advanced research as well as entrepreneurial initiatives including spin-off companies, joint ventures, and other business relationships to facilitate technology transfer, graduate students mentored by them are exposed to entrepreneurship.

    Financial Assistance

    Graduate Assistantships

    Graduate students have the opportunity to apply for competitive graduate assistantships. These assistantships provide students the opportunity to acquire essential experience in research, teaching and career development while  pursuing their degrees. Assistantships are awarded by the MBS program. To qualify for the assistantships, students must be enrolled in minimum required hours (6 hours in Fall and Spring semesters, and 3 hours in Summer terms for M.S. and 9 hours in Fall and Spring semesters, and 6 hours in Summer terms for Ph.D.)

    Tuition Fellowships

    Tuition waivers are available for eligible Ph.D. students. With a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, residents of any U.S. state or territory qualify for in-state rate of tuition. International Students pay a reduced tuition rate that is twice the in-state amount plus a fixed international student fee.

    FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that can be completed annually by prospective and current college students (undergraduate and graduate) to determine eligibility for financial aid.  The priority deadline for completing the FAFSA is February 15. The form can be completed and submitted online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. For additional sources of financial aid, contact the office of Financial Aid & Scholarships by email at finaid@astate.edu, by phone at 870-972-2310, or at http://www.astate.edu/finaid/pp

    Deadline

    Applications are accepted till February 15th for fall admissions and till July15th for spring admissions.

    Faculty

    • Dr.  Malathi Srivatsan   PhD - Neuroscience, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India
      Director of Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program,  Assistant Director of Arkansas Biosciences Institute, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology
      Research Interest:  Neuroscience (neuroprotection, Stem cell Differentiation, Trophic mechanisms and Bioengineering approaches)
    • Dr. Jennifer Bouldin  PhD -  Environmental Sciences, Arkansas State University, State University, AR
      Director of the Ecotoxicology Research Facility, Associate Professor of Environmental Biology
      Research Interests:  Aquatic ecotoxicology, Modification of agricultural runoff, Sediments, sediment remediation, Nanotoxicity
    • Dr. Carole Cramer  PhD -  Biological Sciences (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), University of California, Irvine, CA
      Professor of Molecular Biology
      Research Interests:  Plant-based  production of proteins and vaccines, subcellular trafficking, immune-presentation of proteins
    • Dr. Maureen Dolan   PhD - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Florida
      Associate Professor of Molecular Biology
      Research Interests:  Plant-based production of recombinant proteins , high throughput diagnostics for the food and plant industries.
    • Dr. Elizabeth Hood   Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis (Plant Biology)
      Lipscomb Distinguished Professor of Agriculture
      Research Interests:  Renewable resources (biomass to ethanol), Foreign gene expression in plants, Plant cell wall structure &  function
    • Dr. Xiuzhen Huang   Ph. D.Computer Science, Texas A&M University at College Station
      Associate professor of computer science
      Research Interests:  Bioinformatics, Graph theory and algorithms, Computational complexity and approximation
    • Dr. Argelia Lorence   Ph.D. Biotechnology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Cuernavaca, Mexico
      Associate Professor in Metabolic Engineering
      Research Interests:  Plant metabolic engineering, Vitamin C metabolism, Plant stress tolerance, Phytoremediation
    • Dr. Travis Marsico   PhD  Biology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
      Assistant Professor of Biology, Curator of STAR Herbarium
      Research Interests:  Coevolution of Plant-Insect Interactions using  prickly pear cacti and cactus-feeding moths, Flora of Arkansas
    • Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar   PhD  Plant Physiology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
      Associate Professor of Metabolic Engineering
      Research Interests:  Discovery and Production of Valuable Plant-Derived Chemicals & pharmaceuticals using "hairy roots"
    • Dr. Amy R. Pearce Ph.D., Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
      Associate Professor of Psychology  
      Research Interests:  Environmental influences on drug addiction, Effects of nicotine on behavior, Evolution of mating preferences
    • Dr. Gregory Phillips  Ph.D., University of Kentucky (Crop Science)
      Professor of Plant Biotechnology
      Research Interests:  Plant biotechnology, genetic improvement, Plant metabolic engineering, Bioenergy
    • Dr. Brett Savary   Ph.DPennsylvania State University, University Park, Plant Physiology
      Research Professor of Protein Chemistry
      Research Interests:  polysaccharide-modifying enzymes, Functional protein and polysaccharide analyses, Cell wall biochemistry
    • Dr. Jianfeng (jay) Xu    Ph.D. Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China (Biochemical Engineering)
      Associate Professor of Biochemical Engineering
      Research Interests:  Biofuels & Bioprocess Engineering, Plant Culture for  Recombinant Proteins, Cell-Free Protein Expression
    • Dr. Shiguang Yu   PhD  Developmental Biology,  Shandong University, China
      Assistant Professor of Immunology
      Regulation of autoimmune T cell activation, Role of B cells in autoimmune diseases (autoimmune thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis)
    • Dr. Guolei Zhou  Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ,  Tottori University, Tottori, Japan
      Assistant Professor of Biology
      Research Interests:  Cell biology and role of cell signaling in cancer (Breast cancer and Pancreatic cancer)