Program Summary

With the completion of the genome sequences of Arabidopsis and rice and with additional large scale data bases in progress, the essential need has emerged to train students to bridge the gaps among widely divergent disciplines in order to address the ever-changing challenges and answer major complex questions in the plant sciences. The enormous quantities of data being generated through genomics, proteomics, protein-protein/DNA interactions and new emerging high throughput technologies represent a new scale and render urgent the need for new Systems Biology approaches to elucidate the non-linear programs that control plant growth and development. Our three institutions have consistently made major contributions to the fields of plant biology, computational research and “omics” but an integration of these disciplines into a coordinated training program is novel.

This entirely new interdisciplinary training program will train students with different backgrounds at the interface of systems modeling, computational genomics and plant sciences and will position our Ph.D. students at the frontier of systems biology. The program will include focused mentoring of each student in two labs by two advisors from distinct disciplines. An entirely new focused graduate curriculum, made possible through new faculty recruitments, will be offered. Our proposed Professionals Preparation Program will further enable students to expertly prepare for emerging industry and academic career requirements through courses and practical experience in professional speaking, ethics, biotechnology business issues and academic career preparation. A biotechnology industry internship will be made available and will draw upon the dynamic biotechnology arena in San Diego. The opportunity to pursue research abroad at top-ranking partner institutions and a Science Policy Internship will also be offered.

In summary, this comprehensive PSB training program will provide an unmet need to train graduate students at the interface of systems modeling and plant biology. This program will ultimately have far-reaching impacts by producing highly trained students who will be poised to take advantage of new career opportunities and will be the leaders in fields arising from the revolution in genomics information.


Broader Impacts

Interdisciplinary plant systems biology research will focus on important frontiers of cutting edge basic research in this field and also contribute significantly to addressing future global needs of agriculture to feed the growing global population, while greatly reducing the environmentally detrimental impacts of conventional agriculture. Fresh water and food shortages and loss of natural forests to agriculture are predicted to grow substantially worldwide in the next decades. These problems will increasingly contribute to environmental problems, instability and hunger in regions of the world. Plant biotechnology and molecular breeding can provide promising and empowering contributions to solutions of these problems. Within our outreach program, our graduate students will be trained to make public presentations. This program will also substantially impact agriculture, the environment and public education.


How to Apply

Please see application page for details and if any further questions arise, contact the Program Directors:

Dr. Julian Schroeder
Program Director, P.I.

Dr. Steve Briggs
Co-Director, P.I.