Sylvie Turner

Graduate students will begin their coursework in two new doctoral-level programs in the field of life sciences in fall 2010. The Ohio Board of Regents recently approved the programs to begin accepting students.

The doctorate programs include ecology, evolution and environmental biology (EEEB), and cellular, molecular and structural biology (CMSB), each which already train a considerable number of students. However, the new programs will allow students to earn a degree that better represents their dissertation research and academic preparation, according the Michael Vanni, zoology professor and leader of the EEEB program.

Miami University has continued to have an excellent record in EEEB, which includes more than $17 million in public funding

between 2004-2008, and nearly 30 published faculty members as stated in the program development plan given to the University Senate last semester.

“We already are training a significant number of students in this area, but their degrees don’t say that,” Vanni said. “It’ll make Miami more visible in this area.”

Vanni said the EEEB program would link several programs already established at Miami including botany, geography, geology, microbiology and zoology.

The CMSB program would aid in sending graduate students into a rapidly growing biotechnology industry, which includes work in agricultural, pharmaceutical and health care industries. The biotechnology industry is expected to employ 500,000 to 800,000 people by 2010, as mentioned in the CMSB proposal last year, which is a desirable number with the current economy.

“(The CMSB program should) recruit 8 to 10 students per year … so after a few years we expect to have 20 to 30 students in the program” said David Pennock, zoology professor and leader of the program.

Concerns had been raised about whether or not the university had the facilities to encompass the new programs.

President David Hodge mentioned the EEEB program in his annual address Tuesday.

“The program takes advantage of Miami’s excellent facilities and centers, including the Ecology Research Center, the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, the Electron Microscope Facility and the Geographic Information Systems Lab,” Hodge said.

Though these two programs are both graduate level, they are also expected to attract undergraduates.

“These programs will increase opportunities for undergraduates to become involved in cutting edge research, and that will help us attract outstanding undergraduate students,” Pennock said.

Vanni and Pennock both agreed the integration of these new programs into the graduate curriculum will increase Miami’s ability to be leaders in these areas.

With the addition of these two programs Miami will increase its number of doctoral level programs to 12.