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Plant Biology

The Plant Biology Concentration is designed for students who would like to gain a greater understanding of the structure, classification, ecology, function, development, and molecular biology of plants.

Two options are offered: (a) botany and (b) plant biotechnology. In Option (a), students are required to take the introductory botany course and a minimum of three other courses from a group including function and development, cell structure and function, structure, classification, evolution, ecology, and molecular biology. Option (b) is primarily for students who wish to specialize in the molecular biology of plants and its agricultural application. It centers on the Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering of Plants course. In addition students should take at least ten credits of other courses in plants and biotechnology.

In addition to plant biology and plant ecology offerings of the biological sciences, students may choose from courses offered by other departments in areas of applied research such as crop science, floriculture and ornamental horticulture, fruit and vegetable sciences, plant breeding, and plant pathology.

Experience in working with the plants themselves is essential to obtain a grasp of the theoretical aspects of plant science. For this reason there is a strong emphasis on laboratory work in plant biology courses. Through formal courses and independent studies, students learn skills required for work in plant biology and the applied plant sciences, such as light and electron microscopy, the manipulation of plants in experimental situations, plant identification, and the use of botanical literature. Members of the plant biology faculty specialize in fundamental studies of plant structure, function, molecular biology, and evolution. Their areas of interest include cell biology, anatomy, biophysics, morphology, paleobotany, physiology, and plant molecular genetics. Research activities include cell function, developmental morphology and physiology, ultrastructure, transmembrane transport, chloroplast molecular biology, the biophysics of light reactions, the molecular biology of reproductive incompatibility, and plant systematic relationships. Students are encouraged to undertake independent research projects.

The University maintains greenhouses and field laboratories necessary for botanical research. In addition to wild and managed land areas, which play a strategic part in the study of plants at Cornell, the local countryside offers diverse habitats for plant growth. The natural environment is used in research and teaching programs.

Many students who pursue the Plant Biology concentration are interested in continuing their education beyond the bachelor's degree. Because the tools of research in both fundamental and applied aspects of plant science are basically the same, a concentration in plant biology provides a strong background for graduate study in either area.

Holders of a bachelor's degree may be employed as teachers, research assistants, or technicians in public and private institutions. Employment opportunities in teaching and research are increased by advanced study.

The University maintains greenhouses and field laboratories necessary for botanical research. In addition to wild and managed land areas, which play a strategic part in the study of plants at Cornell, the local countryside offers diverse habitats for plant growth. The natural environment is used in research and teaching programs.

Many students who pursue the Plant Biology concentration are interested in continuing their education beyond the bachelor's degree. Because the tools of research in both fundamental and applied aspects of plant science are basically the same, a concentration in plant biology provides a strong background for graduate study in either area.

Holders of a bachelor's degree may be employed as teachers, research assistants, or technicians in public and private institutions. Employment opportunities in teaching and research are increased by advanced study.

Plant Biology Requirements


Students choose one area of study from the following two options: