The Plant Biology Graduate Program (PB Program) provides graduate and undergraduate training and fosters faculty research and collaboration in all aspects of the biology of plants. Unlike traditional departmental graduate programs, PB allows students to select their faculty advisor from four departments on campus: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Biology; Environmental Conservation; and Stockbridge School of Agriculture or PB faculty members from the Five Colleges: Amherst; Hampshire; Mount Holyoke; Smith; UMass Amherst. The diverse areas of focus in Cell and Developmental Biology, Evolution and Ecology, Genomics and Genetics, and Plant Environment Interactions permit PB students and faculty to work on any level of biological organization from molecules to landscapes, and to choose basic or applied topics. The common interest of PB members in plants is a bridge for work across disciplines.
Founded in 1996, the PB Program has 37 faculty. PB sponsors a seminar series, journal clubs, a fall symposium, and scholarship and fellowship programs for graduate and undergraduate students. Facilities for research include a large set of growth chambers, an automated DNA sequencing lab, greenhouses, university-owned field sites, an outstanding living collection of plants, and the herbarium of record for New England. Many PB members collaborate with state and federal agencies, several of which maintain offices and staff on campus.
PB is part of a vibrant university community in very pleasant surroundings. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the largest university in the Northeast, has a commensurate diversity of academics, arts, and opinions. The rich intellectual and cultural environment is further enhanced by the four area colleges - Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith. Though surprisingly cosmopolitan, the towns of Amherst and nearby Northampton are bounded by woods and farms and the hills that rise along the Connecticut River Valley.