Why Berkeley?

Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB) and the Graduate Group in Microbiology (GGM) offers outstanding doctoral programs. We are committed to the University of California's mission of dedicated research and to providing a superior education in plant biology, microbiology, and related life sciences. Berkeley is a premier institution for groundbreaking research and academic excellence. Being a graduate student here means being a part of an engaged and diverse community that is passionate, curious and committed to science. See more reasons to choose PMB and the GGM below.

Faculty, Student and Program Recognition

•  Our highly respected faculty, leaders in their fields, include 11 National Academy of Sciences members, 14 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, five Miller Research fellows and one of the few plant scientists in the nation named as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. 
Taylor Lab
•  The latest National Research Council rankings of graduate programs placed our Plant Biology Program in the top group and the Microbiology Doctoral Program in the second top group nationally.
•  Plant Biology and Microbiology graduate students publish their high-impact research in top-tier journals.
•  As of Fall 2014, 21 percent of our graduate students hold the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Berkeley graduate students receive more NSF fellowships than graduate students from any other university in the country.
•  As of Fall 2014, 46 percent of our graduate students hold Berkeley Fellowships, Extramural Fellowships, or are funded by a training grant.

Interdisciplinary Research, Superb Facilities

Shauna Somerville and grad student

•  Research topics include: Ecology and Evolution, Genetics and Development, Host-Microbe Interactions, Genomics, Physiology and Biochemistry, Biophysics and Computational Biology.
•  Our students have the freedom to experiment, explore diverse research interests and decide on a faculty adviser through the rotation program.
•  Students can perform lab rotations with any faculty member in PMB or the GGM. 
•  Our students can perform research under the joint mentorship of two faculty members.
•  There is ready access to important research technologies, including the Computational Genomics Resource Lab, mass spectrometry facility, light and electron microscopy centers, nucleic acid and protein sequencing facilities and nuclear magnetic resonance facilities.
•  The $200 million Li Ka Shing Biomedical and Health Sciences Building opened in 2012.  SteveRuzin Microscopy Lab
•  The $140 million Energy Biosciences Building opened in 2012 to house the $500 million Energy Biosciences Institute, which is dedicated to bringing green solutions to the energy sector. Its director is a PMB faculty member.
•  Extensive greenhouse facilities and staff to support plant research and field space for agricultural research.

A Collaborative, Diverse, Engaged Community

•  PMB and the GGM are collaborative and are affiliated with many top research institutes and universities.
•  Faculty have links with several other departments on campus including Molecular and Cell Biology, Integrative Biology, Chemistry and Engineering, which provides a rich environment for training and collaboration in diverse areas.
•  Affiliations with the Joint BioEnergy Institute, the Energy Biosciences Institute, the US Department of Energy-Joint Genome Institute, US Department of Agriculture - Plant Gene Expression Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
•  Approximately 17 – 24 graduate students join our department each year, comprising a mix of students with diverse backgrounds and interests while small enough to still maintain a sense of community.  PMB Orientation Grad Students
•  Inter-lab communities and groups, such as joint lab meetings, journal clubs, Koshland floor coffee/tea hours. Inter-lab informal collaborations and reagent sharing.
•  Seasonal departmental events, such as PMB and Microbiology retreats and holiday and spring parties facilitate a friendly atmosphere.
•  We are a student-centric Department: students have representation on search committees and faculty meetings, select seminar speakers, and organize symposia.
•  Active student groups, such as; the Plant Student Group (PSG), Microbiology Student Group (MSG) and Plant & Microbial Biology Group (PMBG) hold a wide variety of student-led events and are engaged in the department’s governance.
•  A graduate student peer-advising group creates a comfortable community to discuss and address concerns of graduate students.
•  Extensive campus and department seminars, student/post doc seminars, and a Microbiology Symposium are held. Department seminars include opportunities to discuss research with guest speakers over lunch.

Commitment to Teaching and Public Service

Cal Day 2014 Grad Student (Anniesha Daniels photo)

  • We are dedicated to providing professional training: opportunities to practice presentation skills, writing, coaching for NSF fellowship applications (very successful record), teaching.
    •  Our graduate students make broader impacts on campus and in the community via diverse organizations and programs, such as Bay-Area Scientists in Schools (BASIS), BeAScientist program, Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), Oakland Math & Science Outreach (OSMO), Beyond Academia (BA), the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, Cal Day and many more.
  •  Berkeley is a national leader in preparing graduate students for teaching. Professional development opportunities include a teaching conference, online ethics courses, workshops, a discipline-specific pedagogy course, and a teaching certificate program.
  •  Our graduate students bring talent, enthusiasm and excellence to teaching Berkeley’s undergraduate students in a variety of biology courses.


Campanile photo (Tom Holdford Photo)•  Berkeley is a vibrant, urban community surrounded by parks and open space.
•  Berkeley has a wide variety of restaurants, delis, cafes, bakeries and breweries serving up some of the best food and drinks in the Bay Area.
•  Berkeley is minutes away from many Bay Area points of interest including: 20 minutes from San Francisco; two hours from Monterey Bay; and one hour from Napa.
•  Berkeley provides easy access to the Sierra Nevada, beaches, Wine County, hiking trails, Point Reyes National Seashore and more.