Microbial Systems Analysis
Advanced training in understanding complex interactions among microorgranisms in the environment and engineered systems, emphasizing legal and regulatory issues for careers in industry and government.
What is the Professional Master's Degree in Microbial Systems Analysis?
It is imperative that a cohort of professionals be trained to evaluate the impacts of microorganisms that are used in environmental and industrial applications. This is especially important in situations where microorganisms are deliberately or unintentionally released into the environment. Corporations, consulting firms, regulatory agencies and judicial bodies are increasingly required to make decisions in cases where expertise in microbial biology is necessary to make sound judgments. This professional masters degree program provides students with a comprehensive training in microbiology along with coursework in regulatory and public health issues. The Microbial Systems Analysis program was established with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It goes beyond traditional BS degree programs in providing a coherent set of courses that builds a knowledge base in several facets of microbiology and adds complementary courses in business and public policy. The degree program is somewhere between a traditional coursework M.S. (with its emphasis on discipline competency through formal, theoretical coursework), and the traditional thesis M.S. (with its emphasis on research, teamwork, and scientific presentation skills). The Professional Master's Degree captures the best of both traditional degrees and also provides substantial cross-training elements for successful performance in a business or corporate environments. The degrees are two-year (four semester) programs, with options for part-time completion as well. This combination training will make program graduates valuable members of decision-making teams who must deal with complex issues surrounding emerging microbial technologies.
We anticipate that graduates of this program will find employment in industries that apply microorganisms to (1) in-house microbe-mediated processes such as fermentations, drug synthesis, or specialty product synthesis; (2) bioremediation of chemical, nuclear and biological wastes; or (3) intentional release in agricultural applications such as microbial pesticides, ice prevention, or fertilization. In addition, graduates would be suited for positions with federal and state regulatory agencies dealing with public health and environmental concerns. Finally, they may serve in advisory capacities to judicial or legislative bodies who deal with issues involving microorganisms (such as environmental regulations or lawsuits stemming from microbial contamination). In this capacity they may also find employment with private consulting firms.
An External Liaison for the Professional Master's Program will assume the leadership role in working with program Co-Directors to develop interactions with corporate partners, arranging internship opportunities, matching students with positions, and obtaining ongoing corporate feedback on the effectiveness of the training programs. By virtue of these activities, the External Liaison will also play a role in placement of graduates. Students will notify the Liaison 3-6 months in advance of their planned internship. Based on the geographical requirements of the students, the External Liaison will cultivate those corporate partners as appropriate. The program for the Professional Master's in Microbial Systems Analysis will be developed and implemented in close communication with corporate partners. A Corporate Advisory Board of six members will provide advice and evaluation. There will be an annual "Career Day" for interactions between corporate partners and students.
Partial Listing of Potential Corporate Partners (those with whom preliminary discussions have been held are indicated by an asterisk):
Three members of the Graduate Faculty in the field of study of microbiology will be appointed to serve as the advisory committee for candidates for the Professional Master's in Microbial Systems Analysis. The Advisory Committee will assist the student in the selection of courses best suited to meet career aspirations.
When do I prepare a Plan of Study?