Program of Study

Plants provide us with renewable sources of nutrition, shelter, biofuel and chemical feedstocks, and medicines, as well as shape our environment. One of the goals of the Plant Molecular Biology (PMB) Track is to introduce students to cutting-edge research in plant sciences that addresses critical questions in agriculture, medicine and energy. Diverse research areas in plant biology are covered by the PMB faculty at Yale to address these questions: functional genomics, reproductive development, epigenetics, pathogenesis and immunity, circadian rhythms, genome engineering and evolution. 

The PMB Track offers a unique training and research opportunity for students interested in the plant sciences in the context of a broader education in all modern areas of molecular, cellular and developmental biology. The program seeks to prepare students for careers in academic research, teaching, biotechnology and other science-related occupations. To better prepare our students for careers in academia and industry, we encourage an inter-disciplinary approach that combines the development and use of skills in computer sciences, chemistry, math and/or physics with research in plant molecular biology.

Entering first-year students in the PMB Track will be initially advised by the DGS of the PMB Track. An advisory committee composed of different faculty members will then be selected during the first year for each student. The composition of the advisory committee can change through the years to better reflect the specific needs of each PMB student. All PMB students will take core and elective courses during their first two years. Graduate students in PMB are required to take two seminar courses: “Advances in Plant Molecular Biology” and “Introduction to PMB Research”. Additional relevant coursework is dependent upon a student’s specific interests, and students can choose from a wide array of elective courses. First-year students are required to carry out three laboratory rotations during their first year. The rotations help students to identify a specific area of interest in plant molecular biology and develop the expertise to complete a research thesis. At the end of the first year, students choose a thesis mentor and laboratory in which to perform their graduate work. The PMB Track is an inter-departmental program at Yale that includes faculty from the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and the Department of Chemistry. The total time to complete the Ph.D. program is approximately five years. 

Yale University provides an outstanding environment to study plant biology. Plant facilities include 15 controlled environment plant growth rooms located in laboratory buildings. Plant growth facilities also include the Marsh Botanical Garden (MBG), an 8-acre site on campus that supports research and teaching activities. MBG includes 9400 square feet of greenhouse space and is staffed by professionals with expertise in plant culture, pest control, and related issues. MBG is also home to the Green Café, an outreach program that allows plant researchers at Yale to discuss popular topics in plant biology with the greater New Haven community. The PMB Track maintains its own seminar series, which allows graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Yale to present their research and listen to external speakers studying diverse aspects of plant biology. The annual PMB and departmental retreats are other venues available for PMB students to present their work and interact with the science community at Yale. All the biology departments at Yale also sponsored their own weekly seminar series, which bring outstanding researchers from around the world to Yale to present their work.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Photo Courtesy of Yale University