Microbiology

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Microbiology is an integral part of the life science and biotechnology disciplines across the North Carolina State University campus. The Microbiology Graduate Program involves research and education in laboratories and departments that form inter-disciplinary teams to address critical, global challenges for science and society. The MGP (http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/microbiology/) offers courses of study and research leading to the Ph.D., M.S., Master of Microbiology (M.M.) and Master of Microbial Biotechnology (M.M.B.) degrees.

The research-based degrees (M.S and Ph.D.) offered by the program are designed to prepare students for careers in academic, industrial or research institute settings. Course offerings for Microbiology research students focus on microbial genetics and physiology, bioprocessing and fermentation, biotechnology, virology, immunology and host-pathogen interactions. Research throughout the program is diverse, emphasizing most areas where microbes, viruses and systems biology have relevance to basic science and biotechnology. Research opportunities for students involve many areas of specialization including biofuels, bioremediation, environmental microbiology, antibiotic resistance, extremophiles, bacterial pathogens, probiotics, developmental epigenetics, bacteriophages, inflammation modulation and viral pathogenesis; the list is long and broad. Financial support for study towards Ph.D. and M.S. degrees is limited, but can be available in the form of teaching/research assistantships and competitive fellowships.

The non-research-based Masters of Microbial Biotechnology (MMB) is a Professional Science Masters degree that combines concentrations in Microbiology, Business and Biotechnology. This degree is specifically designed to prepare students for positions in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical and agrobusiness industries. The program includes courses that involve semester-long interactions with local biotechnology companies as well as foundational courses in microbiology, business management and molecular biology. The M.M. degree is a rigorous non-thesis degree that is designed for students who want a higher degree in microbiology but do not want to conduct research or are unable to commit to the time demands of a research degree. Many students in the M.M. program either work for local employers or are interested in subsequent applications to professional schools. Financial support is extremely limited for either M.M.B or M. M. students.

Admission Requirements

Applications are invited from individuals holding B.S. or M.S. degrees in the physical and life sciences. Applications should be received in the department before December 1st to be considered for Fall semester admission. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required and should be taken sufficiently early so that scores can be submitted and evaluated along with the application. Other requirements include all relevant transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a personal statement that describes the applicant's academic and career goals as well as their area of interest.

Master's Degree Requirements

The Master of Science (M.S.) requires 30 credit hours, of which 18 must be graded, a written thesis and at least one semester of laboratory teaching experience. The Master of Microbial Biotechnology (M.M.B.; http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/master-of-microbial-biotechnology/mmb/) degree requires 40 credit hours and four semesters involvement in an Industry Case Studies course, as well as a summer industry internship. This program also can be combined with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) offered through the College of Management. The Master of Microbiology (M.M.) requires 30 credit hours, of which 18 must be graded, but has no requirement for a written thesis or laboratory instruction).

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program (http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/microbiology/) is designed for individuals desiring to pursue careers in research and/or teaching. Prospective Ph.D. and M.S. students should become aware of departmental research programs and faculty so that an area of specialization is indicated in the application materials (personal statement). A faculty dissertation advisor and laboratory research program are confirmed at admission or by the end of the first semester. In conjunction with the advisor, the student establishes a four-member faculty advisory committee to guide the research and academic program. At least one semester of teaching assistance / experience is required. A preliminary examination is held soon after completing the second year of study, and the final examination includes a seminar presented by the candidate that is open to the university community.

Student Financial Support

All Ph.D. and M.S. applications to the Microbiology Graduate Program are considered for available assistantships. For highly qualified students, supplemental funds are frequently available. There is limited funding available for international students given the structure of the NC State University Graduate Student Support Plan.

Faculty

Full Professors

  • Prema Arasu
  • Rodolphe Barrangou
  • Frederick Breidt
  • Dennis T. Brown
  • Jose Manuel Bruno-Barcena
  • Susan B. Carson
  • Mari S. Chinn
  • Marc A. Cubeta
  • Francis De Los Reyes
  • Robert R. Dunn
  • Frederick J. Fuller
  • Amy Michele Grunden
  • Hosni Moustafa Hassan
  • Christine Veronica Hawkes
  • Shuijin Hu
  • Michael Hyman
  • Lee-Ann Jaykus
  • Sophia Kathariou
  • Robert M. Kelly
  • Matthew D. Koci
  • Scott M. Laster
  • Hsiao-Ching Liu
  • John M. Mackenzie Jr.
  • Eric S. Miller
  • Ian T. Petty
  • Barbara Sherry
  • Siddhartha Thakur
  • Jeffrey A. Yoder

Associate Professors

  • Nicolas Emile Buchler
  • Jonathan E. Fogle
  • Reza A. Ghiladi
  • Megan E. Jacob
  • Cristina Lanzas
  • Jonathan W. Olson
  • Joshua Glenn Pierce
  • Frank Scholle
  • Michael L. Sikes
  • Robert G. Upchurch
  • Gavin John Williams

Assistant Professors

  • Oliver Baars
  • Benjamin John Callahan
  • Wei-Chen Chang
  • Nathan Crook
  • Angela Rose Harris
  • Manuel Kleiner
  • Ryan William Paerl
  • Ilenys Muniz Perez Diaz
  • Casey Michelle Theriot

Emeritus Faculty

  • Paul Edward Bishop
  • James W. Brown
  • Walter J. Dobrogosz
  • Gerald Hugh Elkan
  • Michael Carl Flickinger
  • Todd Robert Klaenhammer
  • Wesley Edwin Kloos
  • Geraldine Luginbuhl
  • Paul E. Orndorff
  • Leo W. Parks
  • Jason C. Shih

Adjunct Faculty

  • James M. Ligon
  • Maria Andrea Azcarate Peril
  • Scott Harold Shore
  • Daniel van der Lelie

Courses

MB 501/PP 501/PB 501  Biology of Plant Pathogens  (3 credit hours)  

Biology of microbes that cause plant diseases. The ecology, genetics, physiology, taxonomy, and mechanisms of parasitism, pathogenicity and virulence of bacteria (and other prokaryotes), fungi (and oomycetes), nematodes, and viruses that cause plant diseases. Prepares graduate students for advanced courses in plant pathology, host-parasite interactions, and provides a knowledge base for students in other disciplines involved with plant pathogens or who seek to broaden their knowledge of microbes.

Prerequisite: PP 315, or PP 318, or an introductory course in microbiology

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 505/FS 405/MB 405/FS 505  Food Microbiology  (3 credit hours)  

Microorganisms of importance in foods and their metabolic activities. Source of microbial contamination during food production, processing and storage. Microbial spoilage; foods as vectors of human pathogens. Physical and chemical destruction of microorganisms in foods and the kinetics involved. Conversions of raw foods by microorganisms into food products. Microbiological standards for regulatory and trade purposes. Credit will not be given for both FS/MB 405 and FS/MB 505.

Prerequisite: MB 351

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 506/FS 406/MB 406/FS 506  Food Microbiology Lab  (1 credit hours)  

Laboratory experience to complement FS/MB 405. Skills in detecting and quantitating microorganisms and their toxins in foods. Application of colony and direct microscopic counts, most probable numbers, enzyme immunoassays, nucleic acid probes and computer modeling are used to understand the numbers and types of microorganisms or microbial end products in foods. Laboratory safety and oral and written reports are emphasized.

Prerequisite: MB 351 and Corequisite: FS 405 or FS 505

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 520/MB 420  Fundamentals of Microbial Cell Biotransformations  (2 credit hours)  

This is a half-semester course. Basic microbial cell culture theory and practice: cell physiology, mass balances, and metabolic control as seen in a dynamic bioreactor process to be scalable, consistent, and robust. The lab portion of the course provides students with hands-on experience in culture techniques using bioreactors. Students who have completed MB(BEC) 520 may not take BEC (MB) 420 for credit.

Prerequisite: MB 352 OR Corequisite of BEC(MB) 320

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 532/SSC 532  Soil Microbiology  (4 credit hours)  

Soil as a medium for microbial growth, the relation of microbes to important mineral transformations in soil, the importance of biological equilibrium and significance of soil microbes to environmental quality.

Prerequisite: MB 351, CH 220

MB 535/MB 435  Bacterial Pathogenesis  (3 credit hours)  

Focuses on basic principles of bacterial pathogenesis, including mechanisms utilized by these microbes to attach/adhere, internalize or invade, and disseminate through their animal hosts. Bacterial strategies to subvert hos defenses and persist within their animal hosts defense mechanisms, and virulence gene regulation will also be discussed. Students cannot get credit for both MB 435 and MB 535. Graduate status required for MB 535.

Prerequisite: MB 411, Graduate standing

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 555  Microbial Biotechnology  (3 credit hours)  

Overview of industrial microbiology focusing on current biotechnology methods (bacteria, yeast, fungi) employing rDNA, optimization of heterologous gene expression, microbial metabolic pathway engineering, metabolomics, protein engineering and recombinant antibodies. Genetic and pathway engineering strategies for developing new microbes to screen for new therapeutic compounds or overproduce: primary metabolites, antibiotics, biotherapeutic proteins, industrially useful enzymes, medical diagnostics, recombinant vaccines, biopolymers. Utilization of biofilms, methods to immobilize biocatalysts, and microbial kinetics are also covered. Field trip to local biotechnology company. Students cannot receive credit for both 455 and 555.

Prerequisite: Undergraduate microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry course: MB351, BCH 351, and GN 311

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 575/PP 575/PB 575  Introduction to Mycology  (4 credit hours)  

A survey of the fungal kingdom in context of phyla and classes. Systematics, ecology, biology and utilization. Illustrative material, cultural techniques in laboratories. Collection and paper required.

Prerequisite: BS 125 or BS 181 and 183 or BO 200 or PP 315 or PP 318

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 579/MB 479  Microbial Symbiosis & Microbiomes  (3 credit hours)  

Microbial symbioses affect all life on earth. A recent surge of research has identified the critical role of microbial symbionts in maintaining host health and well-being, for example by mediating the breakdown of food for host nutrition, priming the immune system and directly fighting off pathogenic bacteria, and triggering key physiological outcomes associated with behavior and development. This course explores core topics in the study of microbial symbioses, including partner recognition and communication, adaptations to host association, the role of symbiosis in genome evolution and ecology, and the effects of microbial symbiosis on host health. Lectures and discussions will draw heavily from the primary literature in the field of microbiome/symbiosis research, focusing on the most recent discoveries, key methodological advancements, and on diverse associations ranging from marine symbioses to the human microbiome.

Prerequisite: MB 351 General Microbiology

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 585  Industry Case Studies in Microbial Biotechnology  (3 credit hours)  

Project-based course directly working with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Students work in teams on a company-specific project. Projects range from developing business or marketing plans for new products; writing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants or white papers; creating procedures, protocols, and/or process improvements for a company-specific process; and studying intellectual property issues. Written and oral communication skills as well as teamwork, flexibility, and ambiguity management are emphasized. Restricted to MBT students.

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

MB 590  Topical Problems  (1-3 credit hours)  

Informal group discussion of prepared topics assigned by instructor.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

MB 601  Seminar  (1 credit hours)  

Weekly seminars on topics of current interest given by resident faculty members, graduate students and visiting lecturers.

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

MB 610  Special Topics Microbiology  (1-6 credit hours)  

The study of special problems and selected topics of current interest in microbiology and related fields.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 620  Special Problems  (1-6 credit hours)  

Selection of a subject by each student on which to do research and write a technical report on the results. The individual may choose a subject pertaining to his or her particular interest in any area of study in microbiology.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 624  Topical Problems  (1-3 credit hours)  

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 670  Laboratory Research Methods  (1-3 credit hours)  

Directed research of microbiology graduate students in departmental laboratories prior to selecting thesis research topic. Selection of a minimum of three laboratories for research experience lasting 3 to 5 weeks. Acquisition of research methods relevant to each laboratory. Microbiology graduate students only.

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 685  Master's Supervised Teaching  (1-3 credit hours)  

Teaching experience under the mentorship of faculty who assist the student in planning for the teaching assignment, observe and provide feedback to the student during the teaching assignment, and evaluate the student upon completion of the assignment.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 686  Teaching Experience  (1 credit hours)  

Faculty mentoring in didactic and methodological aspects of teaching, including instructional technology as well as design and grading of assessment instruments. Provision of individual performance evaluations to encourage enhancement of teaching skills. Microbiology graduate students only.

Prerequisite: Microbiology Graduate student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 688  Non-Thesis Masters Continuous Registration - Half Time Registration  (1 credit hours)  

For students in non-thesis master's programs who have completed all credit hour requirements for their degree but need to maintain half-time continuous registration to complete incomplete grades, projects, final master's exam, etc.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Spring and Summer

MB 689  Non-Thesis Master Continuous Registration - Full Time Registration  (3 credit hours)  

For students in non-thesis master's programs who have completed all credit hour requirements for their degree but need to maintain full-time continuous registration to complete incomplete grades, projects, final master's exam, etc. Students may register for this course a maximum of one semester.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Spring and Summer

MB 690  Master's Examination  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students in non thesis master's programs who have completed all other requirements of the degree except preparing for and taking the final master's exam.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 693  Master's Supervised Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Instruction in research and research under the mentorship of a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 695  Master's Thesis Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Thesis research.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 696  Summer Thesis Research  (1 credit hours)  

For graduate students whose programs of work specify no formal course work during a summer session and who will be devoting full time to thesis research.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Summer only

MB 699  Master's Thesis Preparation  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students who have completed all credit hour requirements and full-time enrollment for the master's degree and are writing and defending their theses.

Prerequisite: Master's student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 714  Microbial Metabolic Regulation  (3 credit hours)  

An integrative perspective on bacterial physiology and metabolism through analysis of metabolic regulatory functions.

Prerequisite: MB 351 and either BCH 351 or 451

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 715/PP 715  Applied Evolutionary Analysis of Population Genetic Data  (3 credit hours)  

This course will introduce nonparametric and model-based methods for making inferences on population processes (mutation, migration, drift, recombination, and selection). The goal is to provide a conceptual overview of these methods and hands-on training on how to implement and interpret the results. Sample data sets in computer laboratories will integrate summary statistic, cladistic, coalescent, and bayesian approaches to examine population processes in different pathosystems with specific emphasis on eukaryotic microbes, viruses and bacteria.

MB 718  Introductory Virology  (3 credit hours)  

Introduction to principles of virology including: classification and nomenclature, epidemiology, structure, genome replication, gene expression strategies and cellular infection cycle. Major groups of viruses including those with DNA genomes and positive-sense or negative-sense RNA genomes.

Prerequisite: BCH 451 or GN 411 or MB 351

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 725/FS 725  Fermentation Microbiology  (3 credit hours)  

Fermentation bioprocessing and characteristics, function and ecology of responsible microorganisms. Fermentative activities, growth responses and culture interactions related to metabolism, physiology and genetics of lactic acid bacteria and selected yeasts and molds. Current developments in starter culture technology and genetics; application to food and industrial fermentations.

Prerequisite: BCH 451, MB 351

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 730/PP 730/PB 730/GN 730  Fungal Genetics and Physiology  (3 credit hours)  

Basic concepts of genetics and physiology of fungi, with emphasis on saprophytic and plant pathogenic mycelial fungi. Current literature on evolution, cell structure, growth and development, gene expression, metabolism, sexual and asexual reproduction and incompatibility systems. Laboratory exercises on mutant isolation, sexual and parasexual analysis, genetic transformation, and RFLP and isozyme analysis.

Prerequisite: BCH 451, BO 775, GN 311 or PP 501

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 751/IMM 751  Immunology  (3 credit hours)  

Introduction to mechanisms of immunity in man and animals. Emphasis on interactions between cells of the immune system in production of immune responses and the molecules in control of these interactions.

Prerequisite: BCH 451, GN 411, MB 351

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 758/GN 758  Microbial Genetics & Genomics  (3 credit hours)  

Structure and function in microbial genetics, with emphasis on microbial genome organization, stable maintenance and evolution. DNA mutation and repair pathways, transcriptional and translational regulation, DNA replication and recombination and characterization of recombinant DNA molecules. Applications of genetic and genomic analysis methods to microbial processes, including strain construction, genome manipulation, and enhancement of gene expression.

Prerequisite: BCH 451 or GN 311

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 774/PB 774  Phycology  (3 credit hours)  

Introduction to taxonomy, morphology, reproduction and ecological importance of organisms which may be included in the algae. Attention to local freshwater flow and physiology of selected species in relation to algal blooms, water quality and nutrient loading in aquatic habitats.

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 783/CBS 783/IMM 783  Advanced Immunology  (3 credit hours)  

In depth study of the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms of immunity, including antigen processing and presentation, T cell development, initiation of the immune response, effector mechanisms, and immunological memory. The course is designed for advanced graduate students who wish to focus on the current concepts in immunology.

Prerequisite: MB (IMM) 751

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 790  Topical Problems  (1-3 credit hours)  

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 801  Seminar  (1 credit hours)  

Weekly seminars on topics of current interest given by resident faculty members, graduate students and visiting lecturers.

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

MB 810  Special Topics Microbiology  (1-6 credit hours)  

The study of special problems and selected topics of current interest in microbiology and related fields.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 820  Special Problems  (1-6 credit hours)  

Selection of a subject by each student on which to do research and write a technical report on the results. The individual may choose a subject pertaining to his or her particular interest in any area of study in microbiology.

Typically offered in Spring and Summer

MB 824  Topical Problems  (1-3 credit hours)  

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Typically offered in Spring only

MB 870  Doctoral Lab Rotations  (1-3 credit hours)  

Directed research of microbiology graduate students in departmental laboratories prior to selecting thesis research topic. Selection of a minimum of three laboratories for research experience lasting 3 to 5 weeks. Acquisition of research methods relevant to each laboratory. Microbiology graduate students only.

Typically offered in Fall only

MB 885  Doctoral Supervised Teaching  (1-3 credit hours)  

Teaching experience under the mentorship of faculty who assist the student in planning for the teaching assignment, observe and provide feedback to the student during the teaching assignment, and evaluate the student upon completion of the assignment.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 886  Teaching Experience  (1 credit hours)  

Faculty mentoring in didactic and methodological aspects of teaching, including instructional technology as well as design and grading of assessment instruments. Provision of individual performance evaluations to encourage enhancement of teaching skills. Microbiology graduate students only.

Prerequisite: Microbiology Graduate student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 890  Doctoral Preliminary Examination  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students who are preparing for and taking written and/or oral preliminary exams.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 893  Doctoral Supervised Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Instruction in research and research under the mentorship of a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 895  Doctoral Dissertation Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Dissertation research.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

MB 896  Summer Dissertation Research  (1 credit hours)  

For graduate students whose programs of work specify no formal course work during a summer session and who will be devoting full time to thesis research.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Summer only

MB 899  Doctoral Dissertation Preparation  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students who have completed all credit hour, full-time enrollment, preliminary examination, and residency requirements for the doctoral degree, and are writing and defending their dissertations.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer