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About Plant Biology

The Interdepartmental Plant Biology (IPB), previously Interdepartmental Plant Physiology Major (IPPM), educates scientists in basic plant biology, including but not limiting to plant molecular biology, plant cell biology, plant physiology, and plant organismal biology and provides training in the most state of the art methods and technologies. Graduate study in IPB, leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees, is offered through eight participating departments: AgronomyBiochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology (BBMB)Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE)ChemistryEcology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB)Genetics Development & Cell Biology (GDCB)Horticulture, and Plant Pathology.

Research conducted by the faculty and students of the major represents basic plant biology. The experimental approaches represented in the major span the range of complexity from molecular studies, to cellular, organismal and the ecological level (crop monocultures and natural populations). Although IPB graduate students are themselves involved in basic plant biology research, the research focus of the faculty in the major includes both basic and applied approaches. This mix of basic and practical research orientations helps foster a stimulating environment for graduate training.

Plant Biology Graduate Program Learning Objectives

Students completing a graduate degree in our program are expected to meet the following learning objectives:

1. Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of scholarly literature in the area of plant molecular and cellular biology.

              Measurable Outcomes:

              1.a. Preparation of a research proposal

              1.b. Successful completion of Preliminary Examination

              1.c. Succesful defense of the Final Thesis

2. Form testable hypotheses and articulate research objectives that, when met, will lead to significant contributions to the field of plant biology.

              Measurable Outcomes:

              2.a. Preparation of a research proposal

              2.b. Succesful defense of the Final Thesis

              2.c. Publication of research results in peer-reviewed journal

3. Conduct rigorous research via appropriate acquisition, analysis, and reporting of data, and demonstrate creativity and independence.

              Measurable Outcomes:

              3.a. Completion of Thesis Research Project

              3.b. Publication of research results in peer-reviewed journal

4. Clearly and accurately communicate research findings orally and in writing.

              Measurable Outcomes:

              4.a. Oral and poster presentations at local, regional, and national conferences

              4.b. Publication of research results in peer-reviewed journal

              4.c. Participation in outreach activities

5. Conduct scholarship in ways that consistently demonstrate ethical practice and professionalism.

Program Contact

Dai Nguyen   Interdepartmental Plant Biology   207 Science I   Iowa State University   Ames IA 50011-3211, USA

Phone 515-294-9052 Fax 515-294-6019 Email

Director of Graduate Education (2021-2024)


Dr. Olga Zabotina  4108 Molecular Biology Building Iowa State University   Ames IA 50011, USA

Phone 515-294-2627 Email

Associate Chair

Dr. Marna Yandeau-Nelson  4138 Biorenewables Research Lab Iowa State University   Ames IA 50011, USA

Phone 515-294-1079

Supervisory Committee (2021-2024)

Yanhai Yin (GDCB), Steve Whitham (PLPM),

Madan Bhattacharyya (Agron), Gustavo Macintosh (BBMB), Kan Wang (Agron)


IPB Handbook 2022-2023