The Department of Microbiology supports two undergraduate majors:  Microbiology (MB) and BioHealth Sciences (BHS).  Our undergraduate Microbiology major enrolls about 200 students and is the only Bachelors of Science degree in MB in Oregon.  Microbiology majors study beneficial and disease-causing bacteria, archaea, viruses and parasites in the context of human, plant and animal disease and the environment.

We offer two options for majors that wish to specialize. A Pre-Medicine Option helps students interested in a career in the medical field to prepare for professional school. The Aquatic Microbiology Option provides students interested in environmental sciences with a background in the microbial processes of aquatic systems and prepares them for careers in environmental resource fields in industry, government and academia.

Faculty in the department address environmental and medical problems by studying these organisms at the scale of the cell, the host and the environment. Researchers in human health study bacterial communication, microbiome evolution and function, foodborne illnesses and intracellular pathogens. Environmental researchers study the effects of microbes on the health of fish populations and coral reefs, cycling of cyanobacterial blooms, aquatic food webs and systems biology of ocean bacteria. We encourage our majors to take advantage of the many opportunities available for undergraduate research.

A.    Apply specialized microbiology knowledge from multiple fields to critically analyze and evaluate microbiological, environmental, and health-related problems.

Knowledge and skills gained through such courses as Immunology, Virology, Microbial Ecology, Microbial Genetics and Biotechnology, Aquatic Microbiology, and The Human Microbiome will equip microbiology graduates to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems involving food, water, disease, and the environment.

B.    Demonstrate competency in routine and specialized microbiological laboratory skills applicable to microbiological research or clinical methods, including laboratory safety and accurately reporting observations and analysis.

Recent laboratory-related outbreaks of Salmonella, food outbreaks of Campylobacter and E. coli O157and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens in hospitals all provide strong evidence of the vital importance of microbiological safety skills across many fields. Working with microbial pathogens involves inherent risk. After taking required 300- and 400-level lab courses, microbiology graduates will have the specialized skills to handle microbes safely, in research and laboratory settings.

C.     Communicate scientific concepts, experimental results and analytical arguments clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing.

Clear and accurate science communication, both to scientists and to the public, influences the future direction of research science and medicine as well as laws and policies. Microbiology majors will have opportunities throughout their programs to practice this. In the current era of the internet, microbiology graduates will be able to cut through misinformation.

D.    Practice flexible professional skills needed for careers in Microbiology and related scientific and professional fields.

Microbiology graduates will have explored their options for interesting careers, professional programs, and graduate programs, and through their participation in required classes and elective clubs, internships or research, will have developed the professional and “soft” skills needed to gain their objectives.