The Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology (MCB) hosts premier research laboratories that are catalyzing breakthroughs in infectious disease, cell biology and neuroscience, and environmental microbiology. This is best demonstrated by the sustained success of our faculty in competing nationally for extramural grant funding, publishing high-impact papers, and providing cutting edge training and mentorship opportunities for our diverse cohort of graduate students. Research funding comes from a range of federal sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Montana Agricultural Experimental Station (MAES), among others. In addition, faculty have demonstrated success in acquiring funding from private sources such as the Bill and Melinda Gates and the W.M. Keck Foundation.  MCB currently has the largest annual departmental research expenditures at MSU.  It is housed in state-of-the-art facilities with core laboratories for flow cytometry, cell biology, molecular and genomic sciences, and anaerobic microbiology, as well as pathogen containment facilities for small (BSL-3) and large animal research (ABSL-2). Instrumentation suites house equipment for DNA sequencing, computational biology, flow cytometry and cell sorting, electrochemistry, and confocal microscopy.

MSU and MCB are truly unique in our geographic location in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, providing exceptional access to experience and study pristine ecosystems. This includes our close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, home to the world’s largest concentration of hot springs and the extremophiles that they support. As such, on our doorstep is one of the most exciting and underexplored microbial ecosystems in the world, ripe with opportunities to discover new microbial life forms and to contribute to major biotechnological advances. Many of our undergraduate and graduate students conduct research in Yellowstone under the creative mentoring of our distinguished faculty.

There are two mechanisms of acceptance to the MCB Ph.D. program, direct and rotation.  Direct admits identify a mentor who agrees to support the student and no rotations are required.  The rotation option is highly competitive, and students selected have the opportunity to rotate through three laboratories.  Following these rotations, the student (with mentor approval) selects a laboratory to conduct their graduate research. For our M.S. degrees there is only one option, direct admittance to a laboratory.  Please visit the MCB Program Application Information page for more details.