This program is designed to train students to respond to two recently identified grand challenges of biology: 1) How do genomes interact with the environment to produce biological diversity? and 2) How are biological systems integrated from molecules to ecosystems? Not only are these important basic questions, they are essential for understanding how organisms will respond to changes to the environment including habitat loss, climate change, and emerging infectious diseases.
Students will be part of interdisciplinary teams to conceive, execute, analyze and communicate their findings. Because the research topics can often deal with provocative issues such as - balancing conservation with economic needs, genomics of behavior, and how organisms respond to global climate change - students will also get training in scientific ethics and on how to communicate sensitive topics to the public. We aim to prepare students to be able to derive maximum benefit by melding their knowledge of genomics and bioinformatics with a comprehensive grounding in the biology of organisms. We strongly believe that to conduct truly integrative, genome-enabled science, modern biologists need an intimate knowledge of organisms and the natural environments they reside.
Examples of VInTG research themes that address leading issues facing science and society, and the available infrastructure and faculty expertise available to students are provided in the links to the right. It should be noted that these serve only to provide examples of possible research themes from which students can develop their dissertation.