As a PhD student in WPI’s Biology and Biotechnology program, you will benefit from close mentorship by dynamic faculty who encourage creativity and inquisitiveness.

Enabled by a world-class research infrastructure, students in our competitive program explore their passion for discovery while driving cutting-edge, hypothesis-driven research. You will work alongside interdisciplinary teams of WPI faculty, peers, and industry partners to make an impact in your field and explore topics that matter to you, from cancer biology and immunology research to studies of brain plasticity and pollinator decline.

Biology

Curriculum

Through our well-rounded PhD program, you will delve into immersive research in biology and biotechnology while also sharpening your professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills. You will take core courses covering professional ethics, grant writing, and experimental design, and hone your communication skills by participating in department-wide research presentations. You may also take part in supervised teaching experiences and discuss interdisciplinary research initiatives in our Journal Clubs.

Students complete a qualifying exam by the end of the second year of study and round out required coursework with electives. Completion of PhD studies concludes with the preparation of a written thesis and successful oral defense.

Overcoming Bacterial Defense Mechanisms

Research

BiologyBiotechnology-01.jpg

Grad students work closely with faculty and with each other. The opportunity for potential brings new ideas to the forefront and enhances the work everyone does here.
Grad students work closely with faculty and with each other. The opportunity for potential brings new ideas to the forefront and enhances the work everyone does here.

BiologyBiotechnology-02.jpg

Students in WPI’s BBT program have access to the state-of-the-art labs and multidisciplinary collaborations in the Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.
Students in WPI’s BBT program have access to the state-of-the-art labs and multidisciplinary collaborations in the Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.

BiologyBiotechnology-03.jpg

Well-equipped BBT facilities mean you’ll be supported in your research endeavors whether that involves an AAALAC-accredited vivarium with surgical suites, NMR, or a greenhouse.
Well-equipped BBT facilities mean you’ll be supported in your research endeavors whether that involves an AAALAC-accredited vivarium with surgical suites, NMR, or a greenhouse.

BiologyBiotechnology-04.jpg

WPI’s biology and biotechnology graduate degree programs are rigorous yet flexible to provide students with the appropriate backgrounds in both the theory of biology and the practice of biotechnology.
WPI’s biology and biotechnology graduate degree programs are rigorous yet flexible to provide students with the appropriate backgrounds in both the theory of biology and the practice of biotechnology.

BiologyBiotechnology-05.jpg

Work in WPI’s biology and biotechnology labs has real-world applications that impacts problems on a human scale.
Work in WPI’s biology and biotechnology labs has real-world applications that impacts problems on a human scale.

BiologyBiotechnology-06.jpg

The BBT program is rigorous, flexible, and comprehensive, so students are prepared for whatever the next step in their career path brings.
The BBT program is rigorous, flexible, and comprehensive, so students are prepared for whatever the next step in their career path brings.
  • cancer cell biology
  • cognition and behavior
  • cytoskeletal dynamics
  • drug resistance
  • epigenetics and gene regulation
  • infectious diseases
  • neuronal migration and degeneration
  • regenerative medicine
  • signal transduction mechanisms

Faculty Profiles

Faculty Profiles

Amity L. Manning

Amity Manning

Assistant Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

Work in my lab is focused on defining the cellular mechanisms that maintain genome stability in normal cells and understanding how these pathways are corrupted in cancer cells.

[...]
Joseph B. Duffy

Joseph Duffy

Department Head, Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

Defining signaling pathways that program cellular diversity is one of the foremost problems in biology and is central to my research interests.  In the lab we use molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches to characterize the function of these pathways and to gain insight into their role in disease.  To date, the lab has focused on the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor network, a principal therapeutic target for a variety of human cancers.

[...]

Luis Vidali

Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

I deeply enjoy teaching, in particular conveying the important roles played by plants. It is a great reward when my students realize that plants are more complex and interesting than they anticipated, and they want to learn more. I enjoy that students at WPI are open about thinking in new ways; this critical thinking is the result of intense project-based learning.

[...]
Pamela

Pamela Weathers

Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

Prof. Weathers is an internationally recognized expert on Artemisia annua and artemisinin, having worked with the plant and its phytochemicals including the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, for >25 years. She is a Fellow of AAAS and SIVB, won many awards, given many national and international presentations, reviews manuscripts for many journals and proposals for many national and international funding agencies. She is an Associate Editor for two journals. Her lab was the first to genetically transform A. annua.

[...]
Tanja Dominko

Tanja Dominko

Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

Our lab investigates the molecular basis of phenotype switching in human fibroblasts that can be modulated using defined extracellular stimuli. We evaluate the role of oxygen and growth factor FGF2 isoforms independently and in combination in order to identify key molecular mechanisms and pathways, some of which closely mimic mechanisms described in human embryonic stem cells. Extended lifespan of these cells in culture also offers us a model for investigation of molecular mechanism that are regulating cell cycle in the context of both aging and cancer.

[...]
Natalie Farny

Natalie Farny

Assistant Professor of Biology & Biotechnology
Biology & Biotechnology

My research interests broadly focus on the molecular biology of mRNA translational control – or more simply put, “why” and “how” cells regulate the translation of their mRNAs into proteins. I am particularly interested in translational control as it relates to the cellular stress response. When cells are stressed by environmental factors, such as energy deprivation, heavy metal poisoning, or extreme temperatures, they will conserve resources by restricting mRNA translation.

[...]
Lauren M. Mathews

Lauren Mathews

Associate Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

Research in my laboratory addresses questions in the field of evolutionary ecology and environmental biology, and typically combines field work and laboratory studies. Current projects focus on two disciplines.

[...]
Reeta Rao

Reeta Rao

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Biology & Biotechnology

My research program focuses on understanding and managing fungal diseases. We primarily study Candida albicans, an opportunistic pathogen and the most prevalent fungal pathogen of humans. It is responsible for common clinical problems including oral thrush and vaginitis, but can also lead to life-threatening systematic infections in immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients, resulting in 30-50% mortality rates. The estimated annual cost of treating nosocomial Candida infections exceeds $1 billion per year.

[...]
Scarlet Shell

Scarlet Shell

Assistant Professor
Biology & Biotechnology

I have a passion for understanding how living systems work, as well as for sharing my love of biology and research with the next generation of scientists and informed citizens.

The central goal of my lab is to understand the regulatory mechanisms that underlie mycobacterial stress tolerance. We combine genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and biochemistry to understand how mycobacteria respond to, and ultimately survive, stressful conditions.

[...]
Jagan Srinivasan

Jagan Srinivasan

Associate Professor-Biological Science
Biology & Biotechnology

It has been my lifelong dream to become a professor in the field of Biology. Being a faculty member provides a great opportunity to teach and interact with students. Students by nature are highly inquisitive and motivated, and as teachers, we have the responsibility to guide our students to explore and think in new ways. I believe that teaching is a two-way interaction between teachers and students. I come from India and my parents, both of whom were teachers, taught me to strive for excellence in my scholarly pursuits.

[...]

Getting Involved

My time as a graduate student at WPI in the BBT department equipped me with the tools to tackle scientific questions with rigor and creativity and have laid a firm foundation for all that I've done in science since then.
Patrick
PhD Student

After Graduation