Skip to main content

Our Biology graduate programs span the breadth of biological questions and experimental systems — from evolution in viruses to cell and molecular biology in frogs and plants to bioinformatics of the human genome. Advances in genome sequencing and analysis together with rapid growth in interdisciplinary research are making the 21st century an exciting time for Biology.  The University of North Carolina recognizes the importance of investing in Biology research and training and is undertaking key initiatives in the life sciences.  The Biology department’s addition of the Genome Science Building and the recruitment of many new faculty make the department a vibrant place to learn and advance science.

Our  graduate students have the opportunity to become outstanding researchers in their chosen area of specialization.  They learn how to conduct and analyze scientific research, give seminars, publish research papers, and write grants.  Our programs allow flexibility in training for a multitude of futures, from university research and teaching, to biotechnology, to environmental conservation.

Explore our options below for more information and resources. Thank you for joining us!

Dr. Christopher Willett, Director of Graduate Studies

Explore our faculty who specialize in the following areas of research:


Degree Extension due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has affected our graduate students in many ways, including delays in research, qualifying exams, and other degree progress activities. The department supports the need for the degree extension, if applicable, of our graduate students due to these delays. While the Graduate School has not altered their degree extension policy at this time, PhD students have eight calendar years to complete their program of study (Masters students have five calendar years), and we have been told by the Graduate School that extension requests will continue to be handled on a case by case basis. At the department level, advisors and committees should remain flexible when it comes to lab research and degree progress deadlines. We encourage our students to be in communication with their committees to keep them abreast of research progress and any current and future delays they are experiencing.

Funding Extension Due to COVID-19

Our department recognizes the potential impacts that degree extension may have on student’s current funding packages. We are committed to making sure our students impacted by COVID-19 have the financial resources needed to fully and successfully complete their degree. We encourage faculty to provide grant funding so students can be fully engaged in research to help in degree completion. If labs find they are unable to provide additional RA funding to students who need additional semesters and summer sessions to complete their research and degree, the department is committed to providing funding to our students via Teaching Assistantships.

How to Apply

Interested in applying to the Biology Graduate Program? The Científico Latino Project provides wonderful resources to assist you when applying to graduate school in STEM.

Students interested in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology (EEOB-Direct) should apply directly to the Biology department.  Our admissions process is primarily driven by faculty interest, so please identify and contact at least one prospective adviser who’s lab you would be interested in joining before applying. Please refer to the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology page for more information

Students interested in Quantitative Biology (QBio-Direct) should generally apply directly to the Biology department. Applicants will only be considered if a faculty member is willing to advise that student. Applicants therefore need to identify prospective advisors prior to submitting an application and indicate this on the application. Please refer to the Quantitative Biology Graduate Track page for more information.

Students interested in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) must apply through the BBSP Program (BBSP-Rotation). Through the BBSP program, students complete lab rotations during their first year and then at the end join a lab and program.

Students interested in the interface of our programs should contact one or more prospective faculty advisers for guidance on how to apply.

Faculty accepting students for 24-25 academic year:

Bautch, VictoriaCardiovascular Biology, Vascular Development, Cell Biology,
Burch, ChristinaExperimental Evolution, Viral Evolution, Evolutionary GeneticsEEOB-Direct;
Chen, JiakunNeurobiology, Developmental Biology, GeneticsQBIO-direct,
Conlon, FrankDevelopmental Biology and the Biology of Sex
Dowen, RobMolecular Biology, Metabolism, GeneticsBBSP-Rotation
Duronio, BobEpigenetics, Genomics, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental
Feng, Xiao*Quantitative Ecology & Biogeography, Biodiversity Informatics, Ecological Niche Modeling/Species Distribution*at UNC effective 1/1/24
Goldstein, BobCell & Developmental Biol, Molecular Biology,
Hedrick, TyBiomechanics, animal locomotion, collective behaviorEEOB-direct;
Hige, ToshiNeurobiologyBBSP-Rotation;
Johri, ParulPopulation geneticsBBSP-Rotation; EEOB-Direct;
Lohmann, KenAnimal Navigation, Sensory Biology, Neuroscience, Marine
Maddox, AmyCell & Developmental Biol, Molecular Biology, Biophysics, QBioBBSP-Rotation;
Mitchell, CharlesCommunity ecology of infectious
Nimchuk, ZackPlant development, Signaling,
Dfennig, DavidEvolution, Ecology, Developmental
Pfennig, KarinEvolution, Ecology,
Shiau, CeliaImmunology, Neurobiology, Gastrointestinal biology, GeneticsBBSP-Rotation;
Vision, ToddEvolutionary and conservation geneticsEEOB-Direct;
Willett, ChrisEvolutionary genetics, speciation,
Yang, En*NeurobiologyBBSP-Rotation;*at UNC effective 1/1/24