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Graduate Program in Biology

Exploring the science of life from cells to ecosystems

Graduate Program in Biology

Exploring the science of life from cells to ecosystems

Microscopic view of pink cervix cells as studied by biology majors

Our internationally recognized graduate program in biology is housed in the far-reaching Department of Integrative Biology, which emphasizes the intersections and integration of biological processes ranging from molecular to community levels. The program offers both Master's and Ph.D. degrees in biology and has 65 graduate students and 25 faculty.

Ranked among the top 20 research programs nationwide in the areas of ecology, evolution and behavior, integrative biology also enjoys the distinction of being the highest ranked scientific program in the state of Oregon. Integrative Biology at Oregon State is renowned for its research programs in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Physiology & Behavior and Development & Cell Biology. Faculty and graduate students often combine two or more of these areas in their research.

We currently have active research programs with graduate students exploring:

  • comparative immunobiology and pathology
  • cellular interactions and tissue differentiation
  • neuronal development
  • cytogenetics
  • behavioral biology at the neurophysiological, endocrinological, and ecological levels environmental physiology
  • vertebrate functional morphology
  • reproductive biology
  • natural products chemistry
  • marine biology
  • physiologic and biochemical adaptation
  • genetics and evolution of populations
  • experimental marine, terrestrial, and freshwater population and community ecology
  • biodiversity and conservation biology.

Biology graduate students conduct research in laboratories on campus, at the Malheur Field Station in southeastern Oregon, the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, and in natural areas of the Cascade Mountains and Willamette Valley. Students also have joined cooperative research programs in other departments and facilities, including the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and the Primate Research Center in Beaverton, Oregon.

The integrative biology graduate program has a very competitive acceptance rate and typically admits 10% of applicants. Doctoral students gain experience as teachers as part of their graduate training. The master’s program leads to a thesis or research report (non-thesis option) on a specific problem; the Ph.D. program emphasizes independent thesis research on a major topic at the forefront of the chosen field. The department is committed to supporting the education and training of students through graduate research and teaching assistantships. Several biology graduate students, in addition to the funding they receive from the department, have been supported by research fellowships from the University, the National Science Foundation, ARCS (Achievement Awards for College Scientists) Foundation Oregon and many other agencies.

Rebecca Mostow standing in garden

"Integrative Biology is a very special place. I am able to do the type of interdisciplinary research that I am interested in because of the professors who work in the program. I have been able to build these great mentoring relationships in different fields."

Rebecca Mostow, biology Ph.D. student and National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, 2018-23.

Oregon State Ph.D. candidate sheds light on better way to study reputedly secretive toad

Research by an Integrative Biology Ph.D. candidate Anne Devan-Song in Oregon State University’s College of Science has upended the conventional wisdom that for a century has incorrectly guided the study of the eastern spadefoot toad, which is considered endangered in part of its range.

Creativity, research and activism intersect for Martin-O’Neill fellow

Integrative Biology Ph.D. candidate Bryan K. Lynn studies evolutionary game theory, advocates for LGBTQ+ equity, and excels at pastry creation. His work uses mathematical modeling to investigate the evolution of cooperation, using bacteria as his subjects.

Oregon State University research shows two invasive beachgrasses are hybridizing

Two species of sand-stabilizing beachgrasses introduced to the Pacific Northwest starting in the early 1900s are hybridizing, raising new questions about impacts to the coastal ecosystems the non-native plants have been engineering for more than a century.

Graduate students pursuing ecological research win national policy award

Two students from the College of Science at OSU are among the 22 receiving a Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award, presented annually by the Ecological Society of America.

Biology students win 2021 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two Ph.D. students in the College of Science have been selected for the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships awarded to alumni and students

Two Ph.D. students in the College of Science Grace Deitzler in microbiology and John Stepanek in integrative biology — are among three OSU students to receive prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards in 2020.