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Department of Biology College of Liberal Arts and Sciences The University of Iowa

  • Iowa City, IA
  • Public
  • Small
  • Not Reported
    student ratio
  • Not Reported
    total students
  • Not Reported
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition
  • January 10
    fall application deadline
  • Not Reported
    acceptance rate
  • 10 Degrees
    degrees/awards offered


Programs of Study

The Integrated Biology (I-Bio) Ph.D. Program in the Department of Biology provides students with the training they need to excel in academic or biomedical research careers. The program's faculty conducts research in 4 broad areas: cell and developmental biology, evolution, genetics, and neurobiology, with fruitful interactions across these areas. The program provides students with a breadth of training in biology, with depth in a specific area of choice. The program has 28 tenured/tenure-track faculty members, whose research covers a wide range of experimental systems, approaches, and disciplines. The I-Bio Program values excellence in both research and teaching.

First-year graduate students participate in a research rotation program, gaining research experience in 3 labs of their choice. Rotations allow students to sample different research areas and evaluate potential thesis mentors. Rotations also provide invaluable opportunities for hands-on training in new techniques, experimental systems, and approaches. Upon completion of rotations, at the end of the first semester in residence, students select a graduate adviser and begin their own thesis research. In the second semester, students are assigned to Teaching Assistantship positions for undergraduate courses, and are provided with extensive training in effective teaching. Ph.D. students are required to TA for a minimum of 2 semesters during their Ph.D. program training.

Entering graduate students also participate in a broad range of multidisciplinary courses and seminars. Second-year students continue their major thesis research, and continue their seminar and course work, typically completing this aspect of their training before the start of their third year. At the end of the first year, students take a Qualifying Examination. In the second year, students generate a grant application-style document as part of a "Writing in Natural Sciences" course that serves as both a comprehensive exam and a plan of action based on their thesis research, advancing them to full Ph.D. candidacy. Subsequent to the comprehensive exam, students focus primarily on their research for their remaining graduate career. Successful completion of the Ph.D. program usually takes 4 to 6 years in total and requires students to write and orally defend a dissertation of their own research.

Research Facilities

The Integrated Biology Program and the University of Iowa provides all the resources necessary to pursue biological research from the molecular to the population level. The Roy J. Carver Center for Genomics offers standard and next-generation DNA sequencing, microarray production and analysis, real-time PCR instrumentation, flow cytometry, and an infrared imaging system.

The Roy J. Carver Center for Imaging provides advanced biomolecular imaging. The facility includes several high-resolution epifluorescent microscopes, 2 scanning laser confocal microscopes, and 1 confocal multiphoton imaging system for static and time-lapse imaging of live or fixed tissue. A large-format color poster printer is available for students to use for scientific presentations.

The W. M. Keck Dynamic Image Analysis Facility is a national resource for 2-and 3-dimensional dynamic image analysis and reconstruction, used for analyzing the dynamics of motion in organs, tissues, cells, and subcellular compartments. The department is also home to the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank, a world-renowned, NIH-established facility for the production and distribution of over 1,200 monoclonal antibodies, which are essential for many areas of biological research.

I-Bio students have access to the Sciences Library, located adjacent to the biology Building. The library is a prime source for research material and is an ideal place for meetings and quiet study. Wireless Internet access is provided throughout all buildings, and a dedicated conference rooms are available.

Additional cutting-edge research instrumentation is available at the adjacent medical campus, and is open to all Biology students.

Financial Aid

All Ph.D. students in the Integrated Biology (I-Bio) graduate program receive full financial support. Stipends are typically increased annually to account for cost-of-living increases and to match regional peer institutions. Students should consult the Department's Web site for the latest updates. Compensation for the 2013-14 year included a stipend of $25,500 per year, plus a full-tuition scholarship, and low-cost health insurance coverage at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, ranked one of America's best by "U.S. News and World Report."

University fellowships and traineeships are available for competitive students. Students are also encouraged to apply for national and international fellowships. Additional fellowships are available for qualified members of minority groups.

Cost of Study

All Ph.D. students are provided with a full-tuition scholarship, the value of which is $9313 for 2012--13. Students receiving assistantships gain in-state/resident status. Student fees are minimal and are paid out of the stipend.

Living and Housing Costs

The Iowa City area is consistently ranked as one of the most livable in the country and has a cost of living about half that of larger metropolitan areas. University and privately owned housing, the majority of which is within walking or biking distance, is available in very affordable price ranges. Applicants can receive details on university housing as well as appropriate links to housing information on the Internet. Both Iowa City and the University of Iowa provide extensive public transportation, including low-cost and free bus service, respectively.

Student Group

The graduate program averages approximately 50 graduate students, who come from diverse backgrounds both inside and outside the United States. Most students have bachelor's degrees in the life sciences, and a few arrive with master's degrees. Some students have degrees in specialties other than the life sciences. Students typically interact with each other in a variety of informal social and scientific groups. Graduates of the doctoral program are currently employed in a wide variety of prestigious academic and industrial positions.


The Iowa City community has a population of more than 90,000 and is centrally located in the heart of the Midwest. It is a short drive from several metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minneapolis. The air is clean and the atmosphere is friendly. The city was designated as the first American UNESCO City of Literature in 2008. Iowa City has a vibrant arts and letters community, including numerous major dancing, music, and theater productions. Tickets for these activities are often available at significant student discounts. There are also annual summer Arts and Jazz Festivals that attracts national and international stars. The Department of Biology is located in the heart of the downtown business district, which offers numerous restaurants and shops as well as a vibrant nightlife. Iowa City is also home to miles of bike trails and dozens of parks, including the beautiful 107-acre City Park on the banks of the Iowa River. Nearby are Lake Macbride State Park, Coralville Lake and Dam Recreation Area, and F. W. Kent Park, which provide thousands of acres of camping, hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.

The University and the I-Bio Program

The I-Bio Program (the graduate program in the Department of Biology) at the University of Iowa is a nationally recognized Big 10 research center.

Overall, the University of Iowa ranks 18th among public universities in the U.S. for federal research funding, and the Department of Biology is ranked 23rd among peer programs at public universities. The department has built on traditional strengths and added new faculty members of diverse interests, as well as new space and equipment. The department faculty members participate in 3 NIH predoctoral training grants. The faculty is active, well funded, productive, and gregarious. The Department regards its group of graduate students as a central element in its commitment to research and teaching. Overall, the University of Iowa is academically strong; it is internationally known for its Writers' Workshop, innovative programs in the arts, and a variety of strong departments in the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences.


The program encourages applications from talented and qualified students in biology and other related fields. Calculus, physics, organic chemistry or biochemistry, and basic courses in biology are required undergraduate prerequisites. Students accepted in previous years have averaged above 308 on the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the new GRE General Test (1200 on the old GRE) and had undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0. Many also have undergraduate or postgraduate research experience. Students are admitted primarily for the fall semester (August) but in special cases may be admitted at other times. Students notified of financial support by April 1 must accept or decline by April 15. Further information may be obtained by calling or writing to the department's address or to any member of the faculty.

Correspondence and Information

Phil Ecklund

Graduate Admissions Committee

Integrated Biology Graduate Program, Department of Biology, Room 142 Biology Building, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1324

Phone: 319-335-1092, Fax: 319-335-1069, E-mail: or Web site:

The Faculty Members and Their Research

- Chi-Lien Cheng, Ph.D., Connecticut, 1982. Plant molecular biology: genetic and molecular analysis of gene regulation in plants.

- Josep M. Comeron, Ph.D., Barcelona, 1997. Molecular population genetics: genome and intron evolution; evolution of recombination; speciation.

- Michael E. Dailey, Ph.D., Washington (St. Louis), 1990. Neuronal and glial cell biology: microglial responses to brain injury; astrocyte development and remodeling; neural synapse formation and plasticity.

- Jeffrey Denburg, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins, 1970. Developmental neurobiology: molecular basis of cell recognition and other cellular events occurring in developing and regenerating nervous systems.

- Daniel F. Eberl, Ph.D., Guelph, 1991. Neurobiology and genetics: molecular mechanisms of hearing and auditory behavior in Drosophila.

- Albert J. Erives, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1999. Molecular biology of gene regulation, morphogen gradients, molecular evolution, genome evolution

- Jan Fassler, Ph.D., Purdue, 1983. Molecular genetics: molecular basis of signal transduction pathways that sense and respond to environmental stress in yeast; specificity in transcriptional activation.

- Andrew Forbes, Ph.D., Notre Dame, 2008. Evolutionary ecology and insect speciation.

- Bernd Fritzsch, Ph.D., Darmstadt Technical (Germany), 1978. Neurobiology; development and survival of inner ear sensory neurons; cell regeneration; neuroanatomy of gravity-guided behavior.

- Steven H. Green, Ph.D., Caltech, 1982. Neurobiology: regulation of survival and synaptogenesis by neural activity, investigated primarily in cochlea and auditory cortex.

- Stephen D. Hendrix, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1975. Bee pollination in fragmented landscapes; insect dispersal; genomics of gall formation.

- Douglas W. Houston, Ph.D., Miami (Florida), 1999. Maternal transcription factor and signaling pathways in vertebrate development.

- Erin E. Irish, Ph.D., Indiana, 1984. Developmental genetics, molecular biology of plant development, floral determination, and sex determination in maize.

- Alan Kay, Ph.D., Cambridge, 1984. Biophysics of neuronal ion channels: mathematical modeling of neurons and networks.

- Bridget C. Lear, Ph.D., Chicago, 2001. Neurobiology. Neural and genetic basis of circadian rhythms in Drosophila.

- Jim Jung-Ching Lin, Ph.D., Connecticut, 1979. Cell and molecular biology: structure and function of protein components of the cytoskeleton; cardiac development and function.

- Ana Llopart, Ph.D., Barcelona, 1999. Genetic basis of speciation: Studying the genetic barriers responsible for species being reproductively isolated.

- John M. Logsdon Jr., Ph.D., Indiana, 1995. Molecular evolutionary biology: genome evolution; origin and evolution of meiosis; molecular phylogeny of eukaryotes.

- Anna Malkova, Ph.D., St. Petersburg State University (Russia), 1993. Mechanisms of DNA repair and recombination. Studying the pathways that are employed by living cells to repair DNA breaks.

- Robert Malone, Ph.D., Oregon, 1976. Molecular biology and genetics of recombination and DNA repair in eukaryotes (yeast); meiosis as a developmental pathway.

- John R. Manak, Ph.D., Columbia, 1992. Genetics/genomics in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster used to study fly orthologs of human genes involved in disease; genomic approaches to identify human disease-causing mutations.

- Linda Maxson, Ph.D., San Diego State, 1973. Systematics; molecular evolution.

- Bryant F. McAllister, Ph.D., Rochester, 1996. Evolutionary genetics and genome evolution.

- Maurine Neiman, Ph.D., Indiana, 2004. Evolutionary advantages of sexual reproduction, with a focus on how sexuals and asexuals might differ in natural populations.

- Bryan Phillips, Ph.D., Texas A&M, 2004. Developmental genetics of C. elegans cell signaling and cell fate specification.

- Veena Prahlad, Ph.D., Northwestern, 1999. Neurobiology and genetics. Neuronal control of cellular stress responses in C. elegans.

- Diane C. Slusarski, Ph.D., Northwestern, 1993. Developmental biology: signal transduction and calcium modulation in development and disease using the zebrafish model system.

- Sarit Smolikove, Ph.D., Tel Aviv (Israel), 2004. Genetics and cell biology: chromosome dynamics in C. elegans meiosis.

- David R. Soll, Ph.D., Wisconsin--Madison, 1970. Cell and molecular biology: molecular mechanisms regulating chemotaxis; switching, mating, and virulence in the infectious yeast Candida.

- Christopher Stipp, Ph.D., MIT, 1996. Cell surface receptors for extracellular matrix; cell motility.

- Joshua A. Weiner, Ph.D., California, San Diego, 1999. Developmental Neurobiology: molecular specificity of neurons and glia, neural circuit formation.

- Chun-Fang Wu, Ph.D., Purdue, 1976. Neurobiology: cellular neurophysiology in Drosophila; genetic control of neural function and development.

Emeritus Faculty

- Gary Gussin, Ph.D., Harvard, 1966. Molecular genetics: bacteriophage genetics; control of transcription.

Joseph Frankel, Ph.D., Yale, 1960. Pattern formation: genetic and phenotypic analysis of the organization of cell structures on the cell surface of ciliated protozoa.

- Jack Lilien, Ph.D., Chicago, 1967. Developmental neurobiology; molecular mechanisms integrating adhesion molecule function and axon guidance cues.

- John R. Menninger, Ph.D., Harvard, 1964. Cell and molecular biology; accuracy of protein synthesis; ribosome editing; protein biosynthesis; mechanism of inhibition of antibiotics; cellular aging; coevolution of ribosomes and mRNA sequences.

- Jonathan Poulton, D.Phil.,. Oxford, 1974. Plant biochemistry. Plant natural products.

- Jeff T. Schabilion, Ph.D., Kansas, 1969. Paleobotany: paleoecology, morphology, development, and evolution of coal-age plants and Cretaceous cycadeoids

- Ming-Che Shih, Ph.D., Iowa, 1983. Plant molecular biology & genomics. Abiotic stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana; evolution of transcription regulatory pathways.

- Eugene Spaziani, Ph.D., UCLA, 1956. Endocrinology: organismal, cellular, molecular, steroidogenesis; mechanisms of peptide hormone action; reproductive physiology; hormonal control of molting and growth.

- Barbara Stay, Ph.D., Radcliffe/Harvard, 1953. Insect reproduction and development physiology, endocrinology, fine structure.

- Wei-Yeh Wang, Ph.D., Missouri, 1972. Genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology of chlorophyll biosynthesis in Chlamydomonas.

- Norman E. Williams, Ph.D., UCLA, 1958. Protozoan development control of synthesis and assembly of proteins involved in cortical differentiation in ciliates: electron microscopy of cortical development.

Joint Appointment

- Mark S. Blumberg, Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1988. Developmental behavioral neuroscience; neural bases and functions of sleep during development; contributions of spontaneous motor activity to sensorimotor development; development and evolution of behavior

- Jeffrey C. Murray, Professor of Pediatrics: M.D., Tufts, 1978. Human genetics.

Location & Contact

Department of Biology

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The University of Iowa

Room 143 Biology Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1324
United States

Bernd Fritzsch


Phone: 319-335-2969

Phil Ecklund

Graduate Admissions Committee

Phone: 319-335-1092
Fax: 319-335-1069

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Biology Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
    • Evolution Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
    • Neurobiology Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
    • Genetics Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
    • Cell And Developmental Biology Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Yes
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied Not Reported
    • Accepted Not Reported
    • Acceptance Rate Not Reported
    • Enrolled Not Reported
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $60
    • Application Fee - International $100
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline January 10th January 10th Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline October 1st Not Reported Yes
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE General Test, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE General Test, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, 600 paper based, TOEFL iBT


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchNeurobiology, evolutionary biology, genetics, cell and developmental biology
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last yearNot Reported




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