The Microbiology Graduate Program at the University of Texas at Austin stresses solving fundamental problems of biology through molecular, biochemical, and immunological approaches. This encompasses a wide range of research, including the cell and molecular biology, genetics, physiology and biochemistry of microorganisms and cells of higher organisms.
Research topics are concentrated in, but not limited to: understanding microorganisms and their interactions with their hosts in order to solve health problems associated with microorganisms; and using the ease of manipulation for some microorganisms to understand important, fundamental biological problems common to most organisms.
Students typically require five to six years to complete the Microbiology PhD Program. During their first year, students complete four core courses:
Fall Core Courses
• Genes, genomes, and gene expression (BIO 395J)
Mechanisms of prokaryotic and eukaryotic DNA replication, repair and transcription; processing and localization of RNA transcripts; mechanism and regulation of RNA translation; regulation of gene expression from the perspectives of genes and genomes.
• Structure and function of proteins and membranes (BIO 395G)
Structure and function of proteins and membranes, catalysis of biological reactions, cellular reaction pathways and control
Spring Core Courses
• Advanced Metabolism/Biochemistry/Genetics of Microorganisms (BIO 395M)
This course covers prokaryotic DNA replication and its control, transcription and translation, lytic and temperate phage replication, mutations and mutants, genetic transfers, mobile genetic elements, gene expression control, global control mechanisms, developmental processes, and genomics.
• Cell Biology (BIO 395H)
Mechanisms of growth control, cell regulation, mitosis, cell signaling, protein targeting, and the integration of these processes in various cellular processes.
First year students will also participate in a Journal Club and complete three different lab rotations. Students will join their permanent laboratory in May where the remainder of their Ph.D. research will be carried out.
To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must complete a two-part preliminary examination during their first three years.
• Part A, taken in the spring of the student’s second year, consists of presentation and defense of a mock National Institutes of Health grant proposal.
• Part B, taken about six months later, consists of presentation of a proposal for dissertation research.
Individual programs of study are tailored to the student’s interests, but each student must complete the core courses with a grade of at least B in each, and at least six additional hours in graduate lecture courses approved by the graduate adviser. He or she must attend a weekly journal club each semester.
Each student must serve as a teaching assistant for one long-session semester. The student must also pursue independent, original research under the direction of a faculty member; the results of this research constitute the dissertation.