Department of Biology
Department Information: 
4102 LSB, Provo, UT 84602-5181

The Department of Biology offers graduate training experiences in a variety of areas, including evolutionary biology, ecology, systematics, bioinformatics, conservation biology, and molecular evolution. We integrate approaches from the molecular and genetic levels, the organismal level, and the population and ecosystem level to investigate a variety of questions in these areas. Because of our integrative nature, we have substantial expertise in plant and animal (vertebrate and invertebrate) systems. Our program provides an exceptional graduate community, including master's students, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows.

The Department of Biology offers three graduate degree programs: Biological Science Education-MS, Biology-MS, and Biology-PhD.

The Department of Biology has a vibrant graduate program. Students working toward a master's degree generally complete all requirements within two years. PhD students, usually require about five years to complete their doctoral program.

The current Graduate Student Handbook is available to view online at

Chair:  Richard Gill
Graduate Coordinator:  Byron J. Adams

Resources & Opportunity: 

DNA Sequencing Facility. The DNA Sequencing Center was established to help researchers process DNA samples efficiently and economically. The center is equipped with an ABI 3730 96-capillary automated sequencer, an ABI 3100 16-capillary machine, an Illumina HiSeq 2500, and a PacBio Sequel. Operated by a faculty director, a full-time manager, a part-time manager, and a number of undergraduate student assistants, the center is open for use by undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and, through special arrangements, researchers from outside the university. The centralization of equipment and expertise has dramatically reduced the expense of DNA research while increasing the efficiency and quality of the data generated.

Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. Extensive biological collections are housed in the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum and are available for supervised student research. Curators and their students often conduct fieldwork throughout the U.S. and in many other parts of the world.

Electron Optics Laboratory. In this lab, researchers can accomplish all standard electron optics procedures. The laboratory has transmission and scanning electron microscopes equipped with X-ray microanalysis capabilities, plus accessory equipment for freeze-fracture, freeze-drying, and necessary support facilities, including confocal laser scan microscopy.

USDA Forest Service Shrub Science Laboratory. Housed on the BYU campus, this lab supports one of the finest research programs on native shrubs in the world. Here 11 PhD research scientists with adjunct faculty appointments work with BYU faculty members and graduate students. Laboratories, greenhouses, and gardens on campus and around the state support studies on desert shrubs.

Lytle Ranch Preserve. Graduate students are able to do year-round research on desert plants and animals at the Lytle Ranch. This large preserve is located in the moderate desert climate of southwestern Utah.  

Opportunities. Greenhouses, gardens, an arboretum, a small animal vivarium, an evolutionary ecology laboratory with climate controlled rooms and fish rearing facilities, and a tissue culture room are on or near campus - laboratory facilities include gas chromatography-mass spectrometers, isotope ratio mass spectrometers, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, ultra centrifuges, visible ultraviolet and infrared spectrophotometers, gas chromatographs, high performance liquid chromatographs, infrared gas analyzers, atomic absorption spectroscopy, flow cytometry, microarray scanners, plate readers, an MRI research facility, and other specialized research equipment.

Faculty and graduate students are engaged in a number of significant and interesting research projects, funded both externally and internally. Some of these include the following: evolutionary and biochemical ecology; plant and animal systematics; bioinformatics; evolutionary and conservation biology; molecular evolution; phylogeography; population, community, and ecosystem ecology; biogeochemistry; evolution of development; marine and freshwater biology; biological science education; environmental science; and conservation of rare species.

Financial Assistance: 

Teaching and research assistantships are offered on a competitive basis by the department.  PhD students are guaranteed a teaching or research assistant position for each semester enrolled, while MS students are guaranteed teaching assistant employment for the Fall and Winter semesters.  MS students receive a stipend of $5378/semester for their first year and $5600/semester for their second year.  PhD students receive a stipend of $7500/semester, and then $8000/semester once they advance to candidacy.

Tuition assistance is also offered for both the MS and PhD degrees.  Master’s students receive a $1500 tuition scholarship for Fall and Winter semesters, and PhD students are granted a full tuition scholarship for all semesters enrolled.