Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology

430 Physical Sciences Building
Telephone (831) 459-4719
FAX (831) 459-3524

Programs Offered

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Contiguous Bachelor's/Master's Pathway

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology M.S.

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Ph.D.

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Designated Emphasis

Other Programs of Interest

Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Track within the Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (PBSE)

The Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department (METX) offers undergraduate and graduate courses in microbiology and environmental toxicology, both within the department and through affiliated departments. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in fundamental and applied toxicology and microbiology to achieve the breadth and depth of perspective required for this interdisciplinary science. Research interests of students and faculty in METX span the fields of biology, microbiology, chemistry, Earth sciences, ocean sciences, environmental studies, and human health.

Undergraduate Program

The METX Department only awards graduate degrees, although it does offer a select number of undergraduate courses to prepare and attract promising undergraduates for advanced studies in microbiology and environmental toxicology or health-related disciplines. Students interested in microbiology and environmental health should major in a field such as biology; marine biology; molecular, cell, and developmental biology; biochemistry; chemistry; Earth sciences; engineering; or environmental studies while taking microbiology and environmental toxicology electives.

In addition, the program provides unique opportunities for exceptional undergraduates to conduct research in microbiology and environmental toxicology. These opportunities are limited to students who have demonstrated their potential in undergraduate courses in the basic sciences and environmental health. With department approval, these undergraduates may also take graduate courses in microbiology and environmental toxicology, that coursework may be applied toward a graduate degree in microbiology and environmental toxicology if the student is accepted into the program.

Graduate Program

Graduate training in the Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology prepares students to solve important problems in the field of environmental health by providing stimulating coursework, extensive scientific presentation training, and for the research-oriented Ph.D. and M.S. degrees, in-depth research that culminates in a thesis. There is no other program in the world that educates students to appreciate the interplay between microbes, chemical toxins, and health and provides the training students require to work effectively in a complex world. Graduate training prepares students to become leaders in the field, following career paths in academia, teaching, industry, and government. Doctor of Philosophy (P.D.) students typically finish in four to six years. The research-oriented Master of Science (M.S.) students typically finish in two years, while the coursework/capstone M.S. students can finish in one year.

Key components of our graduate training include:

  • Interdisciplinary core course that teaches critical thinking and how to approach complex problems in environmental health: METX 200, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Problems at the Interface of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology.
  • Core course devoted to grant-writing and scientific-writing skills: METX 205, Scientific Skills, Ethics, and Writing.
  • Personalized class plan for the remaining three courses to fit the student’s background and research goals. Possible courses include METX 201, Sources and Fates of Pollutants; METX 202, Cell and Molecular Toxicology; METX 206A, Advanced Microbiology; METX 210, Molecular and Cellular Basis of Bacterial Pathogenesis; METX 238, Pathogenesis: Molecular Mechanisms of Disease; METX 250, Environmental Microbiology; and METX 270, Frontiers in Drug Action and Discovery. Courses in other departments include Ocean Sciences 220, Chemical Oceanography; and Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology 200B, Advanced Molecular Genetics.
  • Speaking presentation skills training through coursework and yearly departmental presentations. Scientific writing and literature mastery through the writing of a literature review in the first year. Weekly seminars expose students to the breadth of our fields and provide students with opportunities to interact closely with speakers and form connections and collaborations.
  • A qualifying examination designed to perfect the student’s ability to craft and defend research plans.
  • For Ph.D. and Plan I (research thesis) M.S. students, extensive laboratory research training that starts immediately upon entering the program and culminates in the student’s Ph.D. dissertation or Master's thesis.