Dr. Jerri Bartholomew, Department Head, Dr. Kim Halsey, Chair Graduation Admissions, Dr. Martin Schuster, Chair Graduate Affairs Committee

The Microbiology Program provides graduate training leading towards PhD and MS degrees.  The Program supports broad interests in microbiology, including environmental and pathogenic microbiology, with studies that encompass a spectrum of approaches from the ecological and organismal to the molecular genetic and biochemical.  Faculty from several colleges and departments participate as major advisors.

The selection of the research project and the major advisor is a key step in a student's graduate career.  Prospective students are strongly encouraged to directly contact professors in whose research they are interested to discuss available research projects.

Students can enter the Microbiology Program in two ways:

1. Supported by a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) funded by the major professor, typically through a grant. Such an arrangement is the result of discussions between applicant and professor, and depends on grant funding.

2. Supported for the first 3 terms by a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), which requires working part-time as a teaching assistant in undergraduate microbiology lab courses. This option allows a student to explore different labs/projects/advisors before making a decision for their thesis work. Students conduct 'rotations' by spending a term in different research labs; MS students should choose their thesis project no later than by the end of their second term, PhD students by the end of their third term. It is typical for grant funds to subsequently support students on GRA appointments.

Graduate Studies and Research

We train about 30-35 graduate students earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Our research covers a broad range of subjects involving viruses, bacteria and parasites, and their roles in the health of the environment and humans, animals and plants.  Microbiology faculty are strongly multidisciplinary and also train graduate students enrolled in related programs such as Molecular & Cellular Biology, Soil Science, Fisheries & Wildlife, and Oceanography. Graduate students are major contributors to the research output of the department.

Research Highlights: Distinguished Professor Stephen Giovannoni's studies have identified the SAR11 group as the most abundant open ocean bacteria; SAR11 member Pelagibacter has a streamlined genome and surprising auxotrophic dependencies on nutrient forms provided by other organisms. Dr. Giovannoni was the 2012 recipient of distinguished awards from the American Society for Microbiology and International Society for Microbial Ecology. Martin Schuster studies sociobiology (community interactions) in Pseudomonas and opportunities for avoiding the development of drug resistance. Jerri Bartholomew's research has identified infection by myxozoan parasites as a major stressor on Klamath River Chinook salmon as part of her studies on disease threats to native fish runs. Distinguished Professor Luiz Bermudez studies pathogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which remains a vexing problem in the developing world. Peter Bottomley studies nitrogen cycling in soils, including determining the roles of bacteria and archaea. Rebecca Vega-Thurber is looking for bacterial and viral pathogens that contribute to the world-wide decline of coral reefs.

These and other exciting research programs offer exceptional career opportunities at a research university that is one of only two Land, Sea, Space and Sun Grant universities in the US. OSU is the only such university situated in the beautiful Willamette Valley, equidistant from the Pacific Coast and Cascade Mountains.