The Undergraduate Program
Simply put, plants power the entire globe. Plants use photosynthesis to not only produce most of the world’s oxygen, but also most terrestrial biomass, which humans have been utilizing for millennia as sources of fuel, medicine, and most importantly food. The world faces a daunting set of challenges that a Plant Biology major will be able to address based on interdisciplinary training in plant and fungal biology within an overarching evolutionary framework. These include:
- Increasing crop yields for an increasing human population
- Producing plants specifically tailored for bioenergy purposes
- Finding new ways of fighting harmful diseases
- Assessing, managing and preserving essential plant and fungal biodiversity
- Mitigating impacts of global change on managed and natural plant systems
- Educating future generations about the plants needed to sustain our world
Students majoring in Plant Biology may focus on one of these areas of emphasis:
- Plant Ecology and the Environment
- Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
The Plant Biology Major at the University of Georgia is aimed at giving students a broad understanding of plant and/or fungal biology relevant to these challenges, and thus relevant to jobs. In addition to courses in plant biology, the undergraduate major will build on many classes similar to a biology major (e.g. genetics, evolution and ecology) but will be able to pull together an interdisciplinary program of study from across colleges. Advanced plant biology classes are typically small and promote interactive learning with a combination of lab and lecture experiences. Independent research is a central theme in our department, because directed study in the field or laboratory with a faculty member on a specific research topic gives the student first-hand experience with the actual process of botanical investigation.
The best way to learn about science is to help professionals as they acquire new knowledge in the laboratory or at field sites. Plant Biology faculty welcome undergraduate participation in research projects. By working alongside faculty, graduate students and research fellows, undergraduates discover how science is really done, and at the same time, receive academic credit for their efforts. Our undergraduate researchers have the opportunity to present their research at the Plant Biology annual graduate student research symposium here on campus, and at regional and national conferences. Undergraduate researchers can receive travel funds to present their research at conferences.
Kiersun Jones, a Plant Biology major doing research in the Khang lab, was awarded first prize for his poster on "Early Stage Invasion of Rice Blast Hyphae Ruptures Surrounding Plant-derived Membrane" at the Aug 2014 Plant Biology Symposium.
Undergraduate Suzie Henderson conducting research in the field while working in Chris Peterson's laboratory. Chris Peterson's laboratory research focuses on forest ecology.
Careers in plant and fungal sciences are numerous and diverse. They include research at universities, government laboratories and at biotech companies; teaching at the high school, college or university level; management and interpretation as staff biologists with state and federal agencies; and administration and sales with plant and plant product related industries. Furthermore, the Plant Biology program provides students with a unique set of skills useful in professional schools focusing on medicine, journalism, and law. Explore possible careers at these sites:
Botany (traditional term encompassing plant and fungal biology)
Plant Pathology (plants and diseases)
An undergraduate major in plant biology can also provide a strong background for graduate-level study in plant biology and other biological sciences.
Please note that we recently revised our plant biology major requirements to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of our area and focus on careers, so come talk to us if you want to explore new possibilities. In addition, there will be a 1 credit seminar offered in Spring 2016 (PBIO 2000, S/U, Plant Based Solutions) that will give students an overview of plant-based solutions to societal and environmental challenges. It is intended for students considering plant-oriented careers in biotechnology, genomics, and ecological and environmental sciences.
Department Head: Lisa Donovan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Undergraduate Coordinator: Zheng-Hua Ye - email@example.com
Undergraduate Advisor: Heather Robalik - firstname.lastname@example.org