An Introduction |  Plant & Microbial Biology  |  University of California, Berkeley

An Introduction | Plant & Microbial Biology | University of California, Berkeley

October 21, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs

Welcome to Berkeley. My name is John Taylor
and I am a professor at the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at Berkeley, also
known as PMB. We offer outstanding educational opportunities to both undergrads and graduates.
Of course, we think both our programs in Plant Biology and Microbial Biology are the best
and so do others, among them the National Research Council. Well, I think the great
advantage of being at UC Berkeley is the fact that so many different types of people who
come here, so many different points of view that are expressed and that are out there
that allow for great interactions between people for a very unusual sort of contribution
that can be had. The University of California, Berkeley is a very exciting place to be, scientifically,
technically, intellectually, and that’s a real gift to be in a place like UC Berkeley
both for myself and my postdocs and graduate students. There are many opportunities here
for seminars, for interactions with other colleagues both within the PMB department
and those outside this department. It’s hard to underestimate the importance
of plants. They support the rest of life through food, oxygen, shade and shelter. With plants,
we have interesting and important work for people to unravel their fundamental mysteries
all the way from flower evolution to the intricacies of epigenetics, translate that knowledge to
feeding the world and teach the next generation of plant biologist. The same can be said about
microbes, for viruses, bacteria, algae, and fungi make up the majority of planetary biomass
and play a fundamental role in maintaining biosphere health. Here, you can study the
basics of development, mutualism, pathogenesis and evolution or translate that knowledge
into remediating polluted land and water, creating biofuels, and learning to teach microbiology
to our undergrads. Of course, each of our scientists specializes. Taken as a whole however,
our department covers a wide swath of science, including Ecology & Evolution, Genomics & Computational
Biology, Plant and Microbial Genetics & Development, Physiology & Biochemistry, Biophysics and
at the interface of our program, plant and microbe interactions. We’re also serious
about translating our knowledge to address society’s need in energy, pollution and
food. Our faculty works in biofuels, in vitro photosynthesis, and bioremediation by microbes
& plants and we also offer an outstanding program for the cooperative extension of biotechnology.
We benefit greatly from our location in the San Francisco Bay Area where we work closely
with researchers across campus and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC
San Francisco, UC Davis and Stanford University. In fact, many of faculty holds joint appointments
with nearby bay area research institutions. Our closest relationship is with the nearby
USDA Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, California, joined by the Energy Biosciences
Institute on campus and the DOE’s Joint Genome Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute
in Walnut Creek, JGI and JBEI. You know, we all manage we talk together and set up collaboration
when it looks like it will push things forward and so coming to this area of the country,
this particular area, is another, it just provides an amazing resource of all kinds
of people doing things that could be helping you out. Our facilities are superb. In addition
to our labs in Koshland Hall, we have greenhouses, agricultural fields and access to national
reserves. Our libraries lever the electronic resources of the entire University of California
system and if you can’t find it online, we have the Marian Koshland Biosciences Library.
Our faculty and facilities may be the best, but the most important ingredient in education
is the student. We are always looking for outstanding undergraduates to major in Plant
Biology and Microbial Biology and outstanding graduates to join our doctoral program. Admission
to graduate program is competitive and those admitted rotate through several labs during
their first year to taste the variety of research opportunities before choosing a lab and project
that excites them most. I want to reiterate the importance of students to our program.
All our experience has taught us that students have the best new ideas and the energy to
carry them out. If you are excited as we are about research and teaching with plants and
microbes or both, we want to see you as a member of PMB. In the shot that follow, we
have put the URLs for our websites but if you remember “PMB” and “Berkeley,”
you can always search for us on the internet.