We answer big questions and drive innovation.
Tackling Real-World Problems
We strive to advance basic understanding of fundamental questions in biology and meet applied needs in fields such as genetically modified plants, sustainable biofuel production, environmental pollution and endangered species.
Our research covers a broad range of disciplines, including cell and molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, ethnobotany, and microbiology. And our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their work.
We believe in the power of collaborative research, and many of our research projects engage faculty from throughout the university.
Cell and Molecular Biology
Cellular and molecular biology of plants and microbes is a major focus area for the department, with a large portion of our faculty engaged in this research area.
Their projects cover a range of topics, including plant cell biology, development, and structure; plant and microbe molecular biology; biochemistry, phytochemistry, metabolomics and proteomics; genetics, genomics and systems biology; genetic engineering of plants and microbes; biotechnology and bioprocessing; and plant-microbe interactions.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Our department currently has eight faculty members who focus on research in plant ecology and evolutionary biology. These faculty members are conducting research in systematics at both the molecular and morphological levels; phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution; tropical, aquatic, and community ecology; evolutionary, physiological, and global change ecology; and ecology of plant-microbe interactions.
We also have faculty members are involved in microbiology research, focusing on such areas as microbial biotechnology; bioremediation; microbial metabolism, genomics and proteomics; bacteriophage; extremophiles; and plant-fungal and plant-virus interactions.
Our department also supports a unique focus in ethnobotany, the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between plants and people. Areas of interest include medicinal plants, edible plants, and other plants with cultural uses or significance.