OEB provides interdepartmental training for MS and PhD students in ecology, animal behavior, organismal biology and evolutionary biology. Graduate students, post-docs, and faculty study biological processes ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level, often bridging the gap between basic and applied research. Our faculty and students conduct research in four broad areas:
Animal Behavior: Behavioral ecology, communication, learning
Ecology: Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology
Evolutionary Biology: Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution
Organismal Biology: Physiology, morphology, paleontology
OEB includes more than 75 faculty from nine departments within the College of Natural Sciences and other on- and off-campus institutes and organizations. Additional members are drawn from the other campuses in the Five College Community (Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges). Three other interdepartmental programs train graduate students in the life sciences (Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience and Behavior, and Plant Biology).
With approximately 40 students, we are large enough to provide the opportunity for a wide range of interactions among students, but small enough so that students form a cohesive group. OEB is structured to offer broad flexible training. There are few formal course requirements. Instead, each student's committee tailors a program of coursework to the student's background and areas of research interest. Students are encouraged to seek extramural funding and publish their research before they complete their degrees. Students graduating from our program are well prepared to seek permanent research or teaching positions in higher education, government agencies, or museums.
OEB also promotes collaboration among faculty interested in ecology, organismal and evolutionary biology and advocates for these fields on this campus and in the wider community. Despite the diversity of disciplines, approaches and affiliations represented throughout OEB, we are united by our shared commitment to the study of organismal biology. With OEB as an umbrella, our graduate research and training missions form a focused program,with a national reputation.
A cornerstone of the program is the nationally-recognized Darwin Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. This program brings recent PhD's to OEB, where they teach, conduct research and serve as mentors to OEB graduate students.
Amherst, Massachusetts is located in the scenic Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. Easy access to the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast complements the rural beauty of this area. Our location is ideal for students to combine field and laboratory research. Our proximity to many habitats in the Connecticut River Valley, and New England generally, means that students can select among diverse organisms and habitats. Our systematic collections include a regionally important herbarium and superb holdings for teaching vertebrate systematics, as well as entomology. There is also a special collection for physical anthropology and primatology. Our greenhouse collections feature systematic botanical examples representing the global diversity of plants. Many OEB members have strong ties with state and federal agencies, offering a wealth of opportunities for collaborative research.