The Industrial Microbial Biotechnology (IMB) subplan of the PSM in Applied Biosciences GIDP is designed to prepare student for careers in the biotechnology industries where microorganisms are used as either tools for manufacturing chemical or biological products, or as environmental or agricultural agents.
Since ancient times, microorganisms have been utilized for what we now recognize as biotechnology applications, starting with beer and wine-making, leavening dough for bread and pastries, and preserving food by pickling. The multibillion dollar modern fermentation and biocatalytic industries that grew out of these practices produce small molecule “natural products” to be used as drugs, pesticides and fine chemicals including biodegradable plastics, and provide us with amino acids, vitamins, solvents and other industrial chemicals. Microbial fermentation and biocatalysis (the use of microorganisms as catalysts for chemical reactions) also represent our best hopes to produce sustainable, environmentally responsible biofuels, and constitute a fast growing segment of the biotechnology industry. Microbial fermentation is also used to produce recombinant proteins as drugs or industrial enzymes, and can be used to manufacture antibodies and nucleic acids for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Drug discovery in the pharmaceutical and agribusiness industries, and the development of novel or cheaper industrial chemicals and reagents are unimaginable without utilizing microbial “chemical factories”.
Microorganisms are also used for environmental biotechnology applications, utilizing the unrivaled ability of microbes to biodegrade a wide variety of compounds. Bioremediation of contaminated former industrial sites, cleanup after natural disasters like oil spills, or everyday applications like waste water treatment rely on chemical reactions catalyzed on the spot by live microorganisms. Similarly, integrated pest management in agribusiness can take advantage of biocontrol by live microorganisms to kill or suppress microbial, insect or nematode pests in an environmentally conscious manner that does not involve toxic chemicals.
The IMB track will prepare students for gainful employment in the fermentation, biocatalysis, drug discovery and manufacture, agribusiness, chemical manufacture, and environmental biotechnology industries where experts with knowledge of microbiology, microbial genetics and biochemistry are in demand. Just like other PSMAB tracks, the IMB track involves a strong component of developing professional skills and understanding the legal and business environment of these industries, and involves a required internship in a professional biotechnology laboratory environment.
The Graduate College sponsors several Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) in addition to the many interdisciplinary possibilities available through regular graduate degree programs. GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research at the nexus of traditional disciplines. The high value placed on interdisciplinary research and education is indicative of The University of Arizona's enthusiasm and commitment to fostering innovation and creativity among its faculty and students.
Students who wish to apply to the PSM degree in Applied Biosciences must have the minimum qualifications:
A Bachelors (or equivalent) degree with a major in an area of biosciences from an accredited institution.
A minimum 3.0 GPA
A desire to pursue a professional career in the applied biosciences.
Students should apply directly to the specific track in the program they wish to pursue. The application should be submitted online (only) via the Graduate College website (http://grad.arizona.edu). Be prepared to submit the following materials:
Scans of all transcripts (official versions will be requested if you are selected for admission)
GRE scores (recommended but not required; general test only)
TOEFL scores (required if you are not a native speaker of English)
GPAs for all undergraduate work
A one to two page statement of interests, which outlines your background (including any professional experience) and your professional goals.
You should separately arrange with two references (typically former or current professors or work supervisors) who can comment on your skills, training and potential for the PSM in Applied Biosciences. You will need to include their names and email addresses in your online application.
Required GRE Subject tests: general test only
Minimum GRE Verbal: 130-170, in 1 point increments
Minimum GRE Quantitative: 130-170, in 1 point increments
Minumum GRE Written: 0-6, in half point increments
Minimum TOEFL: 79 internet based (IBT) 550 paper based (PB) required for international students or
Minimum IELTS: 7 (no subject area below a 6) for international students
There is no funding support directly available from this program.
In common with other ABS tracks, the IMB track requires the successful completion of 36 units (credit hours), within the course of a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 6 years.
The IMB track includes a wide selection of courses relevant to the mission of the PSMAB and the IMB track. These courses are grouped into modules. This track has the same general structure as the other tracks:
Science Module...................................................15 Units
Professional Preparation Module............................12 Units
Internship Module (including the Final Report)..........9 Units
Courses recommended for the clusters of the IMB track are listed in the attached Table. Other classes may be substituted for the classes listed in the attached Table with the agreement of the DGS and the Advisor and the Committee of the student. Initial selection of the appropriate courses within each cluster and for the study plan in general will be done by agreement between the student and the DGS, based on a draft plan assembled by the student and submitted to the DGS. This plan should be based on the particular needs and interests of the student, considering the career path she or he is pursuing. Fine tuning and other necessary changes of the course plan will be made by the Advisor and the student’s Committee, in agreement with the DGS.
Please find a list of recommended courses for Industrial Microbial Biotechnology track from the ABS-PSM Current Student Handbook pages 19-21.
Administrative policies are outlined in the program bylaws here