The Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (PMCB) Graduate Program is one of the most comprehensive graduate programs in Plant Sciences. Our success is a result of our interdisciplinary emphasis, award-winning faculty, uniquely collaborative environment, innovation focus and state-of-the-art facilities. Our faculty is deeply committed to help students develop as scientists and compete successfully for the best positions available in plant research. We have a close-knit and diverse group of students who form a vibrant and supportive community. Our students gain an extensive plant sciences knowledge not only by taking specialized courses, developing outstanding bench skills, and sharpening scientific writing skills but also by presenting their research in scientific meetings, publishing manuscripts and creating their own opportunities.
FIRST YEAR ROTATIONS
First year students have the opportunity to rotate through different faculty laboratories and select a major professor by the end of the second semester. Applicants do not need to define a research project before applying.
FULL FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Our Ph.D. students are fully financially supported for the duration of their program, which includes a competitive stipend, medical insurance and a full tuition waiver.
NO TEACHING REQUIREMENT
Our students are not required to teach to receive a stipend so they can focus on research, professional development, and specialized course work. Teaching is available when it fits our students’ goals.
TOP RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Our students enjoy the best opportunities for immediate translation of their research results to the field. The research conducted in PMCB has resulted in many new plant cultivars and inventions.
EXCELLENT JOB PLACEMENT
Our graduates have achieved excellent positions in the academic, industry, government, and non-profit sectors. Our 2011-2016 job placement has been 100%.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LOCATION
Gainesville’s subtropical climate, year-round outdoor recreational activities, varied cultural resources, attractive educational opportunities and low cost of living make it an exciting place to live and learn.
News & Highlights from our faculty, students, and alumni.
One of our outstanding PMCB Ph.D. students, Francesco Cappai, has been awarded a 2018 Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) fellowship! This prestigious program combines cutting edge food and agriculture-related research with innovative professional development designed to help Ph.D. students be career-ready upon graduation. This $2.7 million commitment is matched by a consortium of industry leaders that will equip students with the skills needed to excel in today’s challenging and fast-paced work environment. Francesco was selected among 17 other students across the country and will receive a $10,000 per year towards professional development activities. Check Francesco's 2018 FFAR Fellow profile here.
2018 PMCB Workshop
Ann Bernert (middle), in Gilles Basset’s lab, was awarded a $1,000 first-place award for best presentation during our 2018 PMCB Annual Workshop. Minh Dao (left), in Svetlana Folimonovas’s lab, and Natalia Salinas (right), in Vance Whitaker’s lab, each received a $500 runners up award. These awards are designed to help graduate students cover travel expenses to conferences and other scietific and professional development events. The competition is open to all UF students participating in the workshop, regardless of affiliation.
Nicole Beisel, a first year PMCB student, has been recently featured on UF's main page in the story Meet the scientist who wants to use GoPro cameras to grow food on Mars. Beisel's research involves making sense of immense, complex sets of genetics data for the UF's Space Plants Lab, a team focused on growing plants in zero gravity. But it's Beisel's side project that she calls "simply cool" and will one day help the first greenhouses thrive on Mars. Not many plant biologists can say their research has the potential to help gardeners on Earth as well as on Mars, and that's why Beisel chose PMCB at UF.
Ann Bernert is among the 2,000 students who received the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Student Research Fellowship in 2018. Fellows receive a stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees for 3 years, opportunities for international research and professional development, and freedom to conduct their own research without funding worries. Ann will be able to pursue a career in science and share research discoveries with the public. “I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had.” Bernert said. "I’m grateful to the PMCB Program and Dr. Gilles Basset who spent a lot of time working with me on the application.” More at Six UF/IFAS CALS students named to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
Hope Hersh entered into NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge with her idea, space bread. It was 1 of 18 chosen proposals to win a cash prize of $25,000. This money will help further develop her idea. Hope came up with the idea to store the ingredients required to make the bread dough and to bake the dough in. Hope stated that “the bags are made of fluorinated ethylene propylene, or EFP plastic, so it can operate anywhere from minus two hundred degrees Celsius to plus two hundred degrees Celsius.” Learn more about the space challenge here: Deep Space Food Challenge
Kevin Folta excels on communicating science to non-scientific audiences, which is reflected by his numerous science communication awards: 2016 Borlaug CAST Communication and 2017 ASPB Leadership in Science Public Service. His blog Illumination and weekly podcast Talking Biotech discuss the interface between society and science and genetic improvement in agriculture. His lab uses novel genomics approaches to identify genes related to flavor and disease resistance.
Karen Koch received the 2016 Charles Reid Barnes Award, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) first honor. According to the ASPB award committee “Karen has excelled in research, in the training of students of plant biology, and in service to the Society. Her research on carbohydrate metabolism and sugar signaling is known internationally and her training of plant biology students is legendary.”
Svetlana Folimonova has recently participated in the This Week in Virology podcast recorded during the 2018 Meeting of the American Society for Virology at the University of Maryland. Svetlana talked about her research on citrus tristeza virus-vector and citrus greening. She had the honor of being part of the first ever plant virology-focusing podcasts among their 305 episodes! You can check her podcast here.
Anna-Lisa Paul & Rob Ferl
Anna-Lisa Paul and Rob Ferl have been leading the EPEX- Epigenetic Expression projec, a long-term collaborative experiment by UF’s Space Plants Lab http://ufspaceplants.org and NASA. EPEX is designed to test how plants respond to zero gravity and spaceflight environment. Their team is looking deep into how the expression of plant genes responds to life in space and how plant genetic materials help them adapt to this new environment.
Sheldon Lawrence II
Sheldon, a first-generation college student who recently received his PMCB Ph.D. degree (summer 2018), was awarded a prestigious Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education (SPIRE) fellowship. SPIRE postdoctoral positions are funded through the National Institutes of Health. Sheldon will conduct reserach in the chemistry department at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill identifying plant proteins that are useful in the creation of novel medicines. Sheldon plans to teach at a historically black college or university in North Carolina while conducting postdoctoral research. Read more about Sheldon here.
Patrício, a 2012 graduate, now leads the UF Blueberry Breeding & Genomics Lab as an assistant professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department. His lab develops improved blueberry cultivars and generates relevant genetic and genomic information, methods and strategies that can contribute to industry and breeding programs. From 2013 to 2016 Patrício held the position of Forage Breeding and Genomics Assistant Professor with the UF Agronomy Department.
Elton Gonҫalves, a 2015 alumnus, is an Associate Research Scientist with the New Mexico Consortium, a non-profit research and educational organization between the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Elton explores molecular strategies for algal crop protection so these biofuels can show a consistent biomass productivity and be economically feasible. Elton and Dr. Bala Rathinasabapathi found that oil accumulation in algae occurs within three hours of nitrogen being removed, as published in the Planta journal.
Cíntia, a 2014 alumna, holds a a Global Portfolio Optimization position at Monsanto where she is responsible for using data and analytics for seed product positioning and long-term planning in row crops globally. Cintia joined Monsanto in 2014 as part of the renowned Emerging Leader in Science rotational program where she did three, one-year, rotations in R&D. In her current position, she applies this experience integrating R&D data in commercial decisions. Cintia earned her doctoral degree working in Dr. Matias Kirst's Lab and her work led to the identification and characterization of a new gene involved in vascular formation in plants. In 2014 Cintia was awarded the prestigious Best Doctoral Dissertation by UF/IFAS. Cintia continues to be involved with science outreach to kids and adults a nd often represents Monsanto in GMO conversations with the public.