Board of Regents Approves Name Change, Expanded Focus of UNO Doctoral Program

The State of Louisiana Board of Regents has approved a University of New Orleans plan to change the name and focus of its doctoral program in conservation biology to integrative biology. The doctoral program in integrative biology will begin in January 2013.

The main reasons for redeveloping the program are to improve the visibility and attractiveness of the program to potential doctoral students, to better reflect the research interests of the departmental faculty and to increase the number of faculty that can participate as Ph.D. advisors in the program.

The conservation biology program was previously focused on the application of biological sciences to conservation, whereas integrative biology is broader in scope, encompassing genomics, molecular and cellular biology, physiology, ecology, evolution and organismal biology.

Integrative biology seeks to discover the complex interrelationships between living organisms and the physical and biological environment in which they live. In addition to being a more apt descriptor of faculty research interests, integrative biology is already included in the name of several prominent programs and departments throughout the country such as those at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Texas at Austin; the University of South Florida and the University of Minnesota.

“The purpose of this proposal was to change the name and focus of a current doctoral program at UNO, rather than to create a new one,” said Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of the biological sciences department. “We expect that our graduates will be competitive for jobs in Louisiana and elsewhere in a variety of biology fields. There are current and anticipated employment opportunities in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biology education, resources conservation and management, all areas of growth in Louisiana.”

Current Ph.D. students who have met the conservation biology curriculum will graduate with a degree in conservation biology. Students who meet the new integrative biology curriculum may choose to pursue a doctorate in integrative biology.