Program Overview

What is the Plant Biology Graduate Group?

UC Davis' Plant Biology Graduate Group (PBI) is an interdepartmental, intercollegiate graduate group comprised of over eighty faculty members and over fifty students. UC Davis, as the major Agricultural Experiment Station for the University of California system, has a rich tradition of study in plant biology. The PBI's cross-disciplinary structure allows students to tap the vast resources of UC Davis and to join the lab of virtually any plant biologist on campus. PBI members hail from nine different departments spanning three of UC Davis' four colleges, offering opportunities for collaborative learning and research unmatched at comparable institutions. The interdisciplinary nature of the group creates a dynamic environment where students engage with topics ranging from fundamental biology to the more practical aspects of agriculture. The study of plant biology in the PBI is vertically organized with research programs that focus on plants at the level of molecules, to cells, to organs, to organisms, to populations. This dynamism is demonstrated during our first-year rotation program. Ph.D. students may rotate in the lab of a Plant Pathologist studying plant immune systems one quarter and with a Plant Biologist examining the effects of circadian rhythms on plant physiology before joining the lab of a Plant Scientist researching crop evolution and population genetics.

A "graduate group" is an independent, self-governing organization of faculty members from across the campus that sponsor a graduate degree program. Faculty members choose to become members of graduate groups, meaning that PBI faculty have a special commitment to graduate education. Beyond the rotation program and their home labs, students and faculty continually participate in cross-disciplinary learning through the PBI's seminar series, courses, yearly Colloquium, and informal gatherings.

PBI Curriculum

The PBI program offers students broad training in plant biology through our common core course. Every PBI student takes the PBI Core Course, a three-quarter course designed to expose students to the breadth of plant biology they will encounter as PBI students and to give them the knowledge necessary for their future careers in academia, industry and government. The Core Course also serves as a bonding experience for each cohort of new students, providing a collegial environment where students make lifelong connections.

In addition to the core, the PBI's four specialization areas allow students to develop expertise in particular subjects: Cell and Developmental Biology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Genomics, Systematics and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental and Integrative Biology. Once students select a specialization area, they are assigned a faculty adviser with expertise in their area who will assist them with selecting specialization courses suited to their particular learning objectives. With the specialization areas, students develop a depth of knowledge that complements their broad training and prepares them to achieve their future goals.

The PBI also is affiliated with the Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology. This program allows students with an interest in Biotechnology to participate in coursework, internships and research related to Biotechnology. The Designated Emphasis is awarded in conjunction with the Ph.D. degree and is noted on the transcript.

PBI students work closely with a particular faculty member on a significant research project. Students generally enter the program uncommitted to a major professor and do laboratory rotations (typically during the first two quarters). Alternately, students can be admitted under the sponsorship of a major professor. International students may be required to identify a major professor prior to admission into the program.

The PBI offers both a Ph.D. degree and a Master of Science degree.

Why UC Davis?

UC Davis' location, land-grant legacy, superior research facilities and renowned faculty with diverse interests make it an excellent choice for graduate studies. UC Davis is located in the Northern California city of Davis, a moderately sized college town with a population of roughly 60,000. Davis prides itself on being a place with small-town charm and big-city culture. Miles of bike paths link Davis' many parks, open spaces, and comfortable residential areas with the University and the restaurants, bars, and shops in the lively downtown. Students in Davis find that a multitude of activities are available to provide a break from their studies. Lectures, concerts, theater productions, festivals and the weekly farmer's market are some of the many events that bring energy to the community. Davis is also centrally located and provides a spectacular starting point to explore more of what California has to offer. San Francisco is only seventy miles away, while the stunning shores and ski slopes of Lake Tahoe are less than 150 miles away. See the Office of Graduate Studies' website for even more examples of why Davis is an ideal place to live while completing your advanced degree.

UC Davis offers an array of superb research facilities and centers to support faculty and student research and collaboration. Several different plant growth facilities, the UC Davis Genome Center, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, the Student Farm, the Seed Biotechnology Center and the UC Davis Arboretum are just a few examples of the resources and research centers available to PBI students.

Studying at UC Davis also links students to the vast resources of the University of California system. PBI students have access to the University of California's extensive Natural Reserve System for both research and recreation. Beyond the 3 million volumes housed at UC Davis, PBI students can also draw on the libraries of every UC campus through the University of California's interlibrary loan system.

Learn More – Contact Our Faculty and Students

All applicants are strongly encouraged to contact at least two to three faculty members whose research interests correspond with their own. All of our faculty can be found here. PBI students also work collaboratively in the classroom, in the lab and on planning social activities. Our current students are great resources for information on the PBI program, the research going on in the Group right now and student life. Applicants are welcome to contact our current students.

How Do I Apply?

The PBI accepts applications for Fall Quarter admission only. The application for Fall 2015 opens in early Fall 2014 and is due December 1, 2014. See our How To Apply section for more information on applying to the PBI.