Program Overview

About the Program

The Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis offers interdisciplinary training in plant biology. The vertical organization of research in the group allows students to study plants at levels of inquiry ranging from molecules to populations. Although research training is focused primarily on acquiring basic knowledge, a diverse plant science community on campus allows opportunities for exposure to and participation in research with applied goals.

The Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis provides excellent training opportunities for its graduate students in various ways. First, UC Davis is an internationally recognized center for the plant sciences. Although plant scientists are affiliated with many different departments, the Plant Biology Graduate Group is interdepartmental. Therefore, students in the group can access the complete expertise of plant biology on campus and be trained by faculty in any department.

Second, the Plant Biology Graduate Group has a world-class faculty, thus allowing students to participate in programs at the forefront of research in their field. Many seminal discoveries in plant biology have been and continue to be made at UC Davis.

Third, the curriculum is geared to provide both a breadth of knowledge in plant biology and specialized training in specific areas of research. Research in the Plant Biology Graduate Group is divided into four areas: Cell and Developmental Biology, Environmental and Integrative Biology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry & Genomics, and Systematics and Evolution Biology. In actuality, these groupings serve as guidelines in that the research of many students span two or more of these areas.

Fourth, UC Davis has state-of-the-art facilities for research in plant biology that facilitate forefront research in plant biology.

We welcome bright and motivated students to apply for admission to our program. Most of our students are in the Ph.D. program, but we also welcome applications to our M.S. program. Please explore the links on this web site to learn more about our program. For specific questions, please feel free to contact Amanda Turner, our program coordinator, at

Stacey Harmer, Professor of Plant Biology and Chair of the Plant Biology Graduate Group
Fall 2021-2024

  • 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.

Visit the UC Davis Graduate Studies website for program information, degree requirements, bylaws, and advisors