The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

MCIBS Inter-disciplinary education

What it means to be part of a broad inter-disciplinary program
James Fraser in lab with undergrads
The MCIBS graduate program bridges departments and colleges

The MCIBS program is designed to take advantage of the dynamic and diverse research community at Penn State. Students will be encouraged to learn from a variety of disciplines and approaches while digging into their own research problem. They can choose a lab from any life science department.

Here are some ways the program encourages an integrative approach:

  • 3 courses in the first year expose students to a variety of scientific approaches: MCIBS 590 Colloquium, MCIBS 503 Core Course and MCIBS 592 Seminars are all structured to introduce students to a wide range of topics, model systems from plants to sea anemones to Drosophila to mouse, to seminars ranging from bioinformatics to cell biology to toxicology.
  • students will choose a course with a quantitative foundation, based on their interests this could be population genetics, statistics or bioinformatics
  • students can choose to rotate in three labs that span more than 15 departments, ranging from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to Biomedical Engineering to Entomology
  • students will continue to engage with other students in the program through retreats and other activities during their whole graduate career, and through peers will learn about a wide variety of research questions and approaches
  • the MCIBS program is embedded in a vibrant research community, and students have access to scientists who focus on materials research, who use statistical approaches or physics frameworks to address biological problems, who design algorithms to extract information from data, and who can help think through whatever challenge arises in the course of investigating the thesis topicstudents with blue balloons