As organisms that sequester carbon and convert solar energy to usable forms, plants are the primary source of food on the planet as well as important buffers against climate change. The plant biology major focuses on fundamental aspects of how plants function as organisms and interact with their environment. A wide variety of scientific disciplines are integrated within the major, including physiology, cell and molecular biology, development, genetics and genomics.
A degree in plant biology serves as an excellent launching point for a wide range of career options, including domestic and international opportunities in business, research and teaching. The program is excellent preparation for students wishing to enter graduate or other professional schools, including medicine, law (particularly environmental or patent law) or journalism. Plant biologists can work in the laboratory or field, forestry, botanical gardens and nurseries, agricultural companies, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, energy and chemical industries or environmental protection.
The plant biology major consists of core biological sciences courses plus four plant-specific classes dealing with advanced aspects of plant biology such as physiology, development and anatomy. Two required electives and required independent research in a laboratory setting allow student to tailor their degrees. Because plants are a model system for research in molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry, plant biology is an excellent minor or second major for students in these fields.