The University of Missouri Board of Curators unanimously voted today (Nov. 16) to approve two new Ph.D. programs at Missouri University of Science and Technology. The new programs in bioengineering and biological sciences support S&T’s continued growth in education and research related to health care and related fields.
The programs now must be approved by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE). Pending this approval, the university aims to admit students into these new programs starting in fall 2024.
“The confluence where the physical sciences and engineering meet biological sciences and medicine is poised to become one of the greatest areas of academic and scientific research ever imagined,” says S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani. “At Missouri S&T, we are prepared to play an important role in these fields of the future. Graduates from our doctoral programs in bioengineering and biological sciences will contribute to a growing body of knowledge and positively impact human health through their research and work.”
The bioengineering doctoral program will be housed in the Doshi Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of bioengineering, faculty in 13 departments across all three S&T colleges will contribute to the program.
In addition to chemical and biochemical engineering, departments will include biological sciences; chemistry; computer science; civil, architectural and environmental engineering; electrical and computer engineering; engineering management and systems engineering; materials science and engineering; mathematics and statistics; mechanical and aerospace engineering; mining and explosives engineering; nuclear engineering and radiation science; and psychological science.
Dr. Hu Yang, chair of the Doshi Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, will lead the program. Dr. Jee-Ching Wang, associate chair for research and program coordinator for the chemical engineering graduate program, will serve as program coordinator.
The biological sciences doctoral program will be housed in S&T’s department by the same name. The well-established biological sciences department currently offers bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in biological sciences, a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, an undergraduate certificate in bioinnovation, plus minors in biomedical engineering, pre-medicine, sustainability and bioinformatics. Students can also pursue secondary education certification.
The Ph.D. program will include three tracks: biomedicine, bioinnovation and environmental biology. Approximately 600 open positions are available each year in Missouri for job candidates with a doctoral degree in biological sciences. Some of the job titles include medical scientist, biological or life scientist, plant scientist, environmental scientist, food scientist, biochemist, epidemiologist, microbiologist, and wildlife biologist.
Leading the program will be the department’s graduate program director and chair. Dr. Melanie Mormile, professor of biological sciences, is director of the biology graduate program. Dr. David Duvernell, professor of biological sciences, is currently the department’s chair.
In September, the curators approved a new bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering for S&T to meet growing demand for workers in the medical, health care and bio-related fields. Pending CBHE approval, the university plans to offer this undergraduate program also in fall 2024.