Our Program

One of the largest departments on campus, our scientists have a broad array of areas of expertise. Individual graduate programs emphasize a variety of topics including:

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Cell Signaling
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecology & Animal Behavior
  • Evolution & Systematics
  • Genomics
  • Insect Biology & Pest Management
  • Neurobiology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular & Synthetic Biology
  • Physiology
  • Plant Molecular Physiology
  • Plant & Insect Pathology
  • Public Health

PDRF Perks
  • Four-year fellowship
  • $10,000 scholarship (each year for four years)
  • Full-tuition award (each year for four years)
  • Departmental Assistantship
  • Health insurance
  • Enrollment in Research Certification
  • Exclusive socials, special guests, and trainings
  • One-on-one support from the Associate Vice President

Application Requirements

Please contact Metta Ray at with your questions.

  • Meet all School of Graduate Studies requirements for general admission to USU
  • Have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • Apply to the Ph.D. program by December 15 for priority consideration (later applications may be considered)

Our Facilities

The Herbarium

The Intermountain Herbarium began databasing its specimen information in 1990.  We have over 101,000 records in the database. This represents slightly over 40% of the specimens in the herbarium. Of the databased records, 33 percent are of Utah specimens and 29 percent are of grasses.

The Greenhouse

Built in the mid-1960’s, the Biology Greenhouse serves as an important teaching resource for our department. Plant specimens are used in numerous teaching labs and offer students an opportunity to study a wide array of plant life.  Specimens are divided into four rooms, each of which serves a different purpose.

Insect Collection

The Utah State University Insect Collection has been an important research tool since the 1960s. Originally begun with one small cabinet, the collection now has over 117 cabinets housing approximately two million pinned insects and 35,000 microscope slides.

The Stable Isotope Lab

The USU Stable Isotope Laboratory, a nonprofit research laboratory, is a service to researchers within and outside USU to analyze soil, plant and animal tissues, and other combustible materials containing natural abundance and enriched concentrations of carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) isotopes.

The Center for Integrated Biosystems

The CIB is an active and vibrant focal point for life science activities at USU. A multifaceted core facility, the CIB is dedicated to agricultural and environmental biotechnology research. The center’s scientists and staff work together to further our core components: research, a core service lab facility, biotechnology training and student education.

The Microscopy Core Facility

Maintained by the Office of Research, this facility includes a scanning electron microscope, a dualbeam (FIB/SEM) microscope equipped with Omniprobe/EBSD system, a laser dissection microscope, and several microscopy sample preparation tools. The facility provides microscopy service, project consultation, and user training. 

Life Science building
Our Faculty

Due to the many opportunities available in our department, we encourage students to explore the department website and identify research and faculty who interest them, and contact them directly.

This fellowship will be awarded to a doctoral candidate working with one of the following Biology faculty:

Dr. Noelle Beckman: Mechanisms underlying variation in plant movement, growth, and survival, and impacts of climate change. Chair of Biology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Dr. Monica Borghi: Flower metabolomics, molecular plant physiology

Dr. Carl Rothfels: (arriving Fall 2022) Theory and application of phylogenetics; patterns and processes of plant diversification, including molecular and morphological change, speciation, and extinction.

Dr. Catherine Rushworth: (arriving Fall 2022) Evolution of plant reproductive diversity and hybrid incompatibility.

Dr. Robert Schaeffer: Ecology and evolution of plant-insect-microbe interactions in natural and human-modified ecosystems.

Dr. Molly Womack: Macroevolution, development, morphology, sensory ecology. Former Chair of Biology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee