Project Details


Microbes exert a far-reaching influence on the earth's biosphere both negatively and positively, and thus have been a major focus of research. Particularly, advances in genomics and informatics are rapidly expanding our knowledge of the genetic makeup and evolution of various microbes. To fully harness the power of microbial genomics for understanding the traits of practical importance and their evolution, we need to integrate genomics with perspectives and knowledge from other areas of science, particularly evolutionary biology, ecology, and informatics. Without such integration, translation of the data from microbial genomics into enhanced understanding of microbiology and practical problem solving will be severely hampered. This integration requires concerted efforts by researchers and educators. The goal of this graduate training program is to educate the next generation of researchers and educators who are well versed in integrating data and tools in microbial genomics with those from other areas of science to answer fundamental microbiology questions and to solve practical microbe-related problems faced by the nation's agricultural, food and environmental systems, and who also possess adequate professional skills and ethics to work effectively in diverse professions. Training in microbial genomics should be multidisciplinary in nature and requires a broad understanding of biological systems. However, given the exponential increase in data and tools in genomics and other areas of science, it is unrealistic to educate generalists who can do it all. Instead, we will help our students become specialists in a few specific areas and at the same time, learn and practice the basic scientific languages of other disciplines so that they can work effectively with other specialists with disparate expertise toward a common goal. The curricula, human resources, and physical infrastructures offered by the established Penn State graduate programs in Bioinformatics & Genomics, Plant Pathology, Veterinary Science, Food Science, and Genetics, as well as a new course developed for this program, will be utilized to broaden and strengthen the students' learning experience. Multiple approaches will be utilized to nurture students' ability of utilizing diverse genomics data and tools in solving complex problems through synthesis and teamwork.

Effective start/end date1/15/101/14/15


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $999,900.00


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