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Graduate Study and Research

[picture of prairie white-fringed orchid]The Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin has an active graduate program leading toward the Masters and Ph.D. degrees. Faculty and graduate students work on a wide range of projects in plant biology at all levels of organization, from molecules, through cells and organs, to populations, communities, and lineages of organisms. The major areas emphasized are molecular biology, genetics, cellular and developmental biology, structural botany, physiology, ecology, evolution, taxonomy, and molecular systematics. Advanced instruction and opportunities for research are also available in phycology, bryology and ethnobotany. Effective September 1, 2008 the Graduate School application fee will increase to $56. The increase is due to a decision made by the state legislature.

For students with research interests which extend into other fields bordering botany, there are opportunities for course work, collaborative research, and seminars presented by experts from throughout the world in many other departments. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged, both within the Department and in combination with other departments or programs, including Agronomy, Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Entomology, Forestry, Genetics, Geology, Horticulture, Physics, Plant Pathology, Plant Breeding/Plant Genetics, Soils, Wildlife Management, and Zoology.

Graduate study in the Department of Botany requires a combination of advanced coursework, participation in seminars, and research. The course requirements have been set up in four tracks:General Botany; Ecology; Evolution; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Independent research is usually initiated soon after arrival. In collaboration with a faculty supervisor, each student selects a track that includes a combination of courses and research topics that are related to his or her interests and that will provide the arsenal of techniques and detailed knowledge needed for effective research. Doctoral candidates must pass an oral Preliminary Examination, generally in the spring term of their second year, demonstrating their breadth and depth of preparation. Frequent colloquia by distinguished scientists help keep students and faculty in touch with advances in all aspects of the plant sciences.

See Graduate Study link for specific department requirements.

Research by the faculty addresses issues mainly at four levels of biological organization: phylogenetic relationships; whole plants and their interactions; development, anatomy, and morphology of plant tissues; and cellular, subcellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms that affect all other levels. Faculty interests can be grouped into six responding areas, with considerable overlap:

For ease of presentation, the summaries of faculty research given by faculty are organized into these five areas. However, many faculty and students collaborate closely within and between areas, as a result of shared interests and approaches and a congenial, collegial atmosphere.

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