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Back Program Website | Info Sheet
Overview
Microbiology is the study of bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae and their many relationships to humans, animals, plants and the environment. Cell and molecular biology is the study of how cellular components interact to promote life processes with prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Microbiologists apply their knowledge to public health and sanitation; food production and preservation, industrial fermentations which produce chemicals, drugs, antibiotics, alcoholic beverages and various food products; prevention and cure of diseases in plants, animals and humans; biodegradation of toxic chemicals and other materials present in the environment; insect pathology; and other activities which seek to control microbes, to enhance their useful activities and prevent the growth of those which are harmful. Microbiology is the basis for the exciting and expanding field of biotechnology which endeavors to utilize living organisms to solve important problems in medicine, agriculture, and environmental science.

Microbes live in a great variety of environments and carry out many of the processes found in higher organisms. They are thus interesting in their own right as model systems for the study of reactions which occur in higher organisms. As subjects for research in biochemical and molecular genetics, microbes have contributed most to the current knowledge of genetics at the molecular level (microbial systems are in the forefront of genetic engineering).

Departmental courses are designed to provide comprehensive training and the skills required for working with microorganisms, as well as a broad understanding of all aspects of microbial life. Many of the microbiology positions require graduate level studies. The undergraduate program includes five options: Molecular Genetics, Microbial Ecology/Environmental, Microbial Pathogenesis, Clinical Laboratory Science, and Biomedical Science. In addition to the BS degree, the department offers graduate studies leading to the MS and PhD degrees in various areas of concentration, including virology, microbial physiology, microbial genetics, microbial anatomy, microbial pathogenesis, immunology, and several applied areas.

Opportunities for employment exist at all scholarly levels, in many local, state and national government agencies and in varied industries. The record for employment of microbiologists has been excellent for many years and with the increased interest in biotechnology, employment opportunities look even brighter for the future.

These fields require a solid knowledge of other sciences and students should take high school courses in mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. Students should have broad interests in how living cells work and have aptitudes for biology and chemistry.

Molecular Genetics Option. This option includes the study of DNA and RNA synthesis and how genes are expressed to allow differentiation of a single-celled egg into a complex multicellular organism. Molecular biologists study protein synthesis, cell ultrastructure, organelle structure and function, enzymology, and the collection of concepts and procedures commonly known as “biotechnology” or “genetic engineering.”

With the advent of modern molecular biology, studies of the fundamental processes of living cells have taken dramatic strides. This option at Oklahoma State University has been designed to allow students to acquire training in a multidisciplinary atmosphere that prepares them for employment in the rapidly growing fields of bioinformatics, molecular genetics, biotechnology, and several other areas. Students following this avenue of study will be well prepared to continue toward the MS or PhD degrees at this or other institutions or to find employment directly upon graduation.

Microbial Ecology/Environmental Option. Microorganisms play an astonishingly important role in the evolution, ecology, and biogeochemical processes of our planet and in sustenance of its inhabitants. This option deals with the role of microorganisms in the environment, their diversity and interactions with each other and with the environment in which they live. The application of the latest molecular tools in retrieving genomic information directly from the environment has provided access to the vast microbial world of uncultivable organisms and in exploring their identity, in-situ activity, genetic diversity, and their importance to human health and the environment. The development of innovative cultivation strategies has helped isolate elusive microbes from some of the most unusual and extreme environments, and thus providing glimpses into their novel genes and metabolic potential that can be exploited for the development of biotechnology. The Microbial Ecology – Environmental Microbiology is truly an interdisciplinary science. To explore the inner workings of microbes and the processes they catalyze in complex ecosystem, a multidisciplinary integrative approaches involving disparate disciplines such as microbiology, geology, molecular biology, and computation biology are required.

Microbial Pathogenesis Option. The aim of the Microbial Pathogenesis option is to train undergraduate students seeking to pursue graduate studies in this field or a career in medically related fields. A third of all preventable deaths on this planet are due to infectious diseases. Over a period of several decades, there has been a significant decline in infectious diseases due to the considerable impact of medicine and scientific research; however, there is an upsurge of infectious threats to human beings in the recent years. This has been due to a number of reasons, including the emergence of new and antibiotic resistant infectious agents and a scarcity of effective vaccines.

This option focuses on the study of the various groups of infectious agents, the mechanisms employed by these agents to subvert the host immune system and cause tissue damage, and their interactions with host cells. A comprehensive understanding of the complex mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis requires study of molecular biology of the pathogens, eukaryotic cell biology and the host immunological defense strategies. Our BS degree program in Microbiology with the Microbial Pathogenesis option is designed to expose the students to this exciting area of science so that they are well equipped to pursue their chosen careers.

Clinical Laboratory Science Option. This option is designed to give the student the broad general education and the highly technical skills that are required for a successful career in this important medical science. The minimum requirement for the BS degree in clinical laboratory science (CLLS) is three years of university work that includes general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, immunology, genetics, anatomy & physiology, physics, upper-division courses in microbiology, calculus, and one year of clinical laboratory education (internship) in an approved school of clinical laboratory science.

For the BS degree and certification, the students will, after three years of university work, complete one year of clinical internship in a school of clinical laboratory science accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS) and currently affiliated with Oklahoma State University. Schools of clinical laboratory science/medical technology are located at the following hospitals: Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Lawton, OK; St. Francis Hospital, Tulsa, OK; Valley View Hospital, Ada, OK.

Clinical Laboratory Science is unique in that students are able to enter a health profession directly after obtaining a BS degree. Clinical laboratory scientists comprise the third largest segment of the healthcare professions and are an important member of the healthcare team, working with doctors and nurses. This is a very versatile profession and allows the graduate to seek employment opportunities in healthcare laboratories, administration, health law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and more.

Biomedical Science Option. Students electing this option plan to complete at least 90 hours of course work toward a microbiology/cell & molecular biology major, including professional program prerequisites, and apply to their professional program (chiropractic, dental, medical, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary) beginning in their sophomore year. Students accepted into one of these professional programs in their junior year can transfer credits earned in the first year of professional school back to Oklahoma State University to count toward a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology/cell & molecular biology.

Available Options
- Biomedical Science, B.S.
- Clinical Laboratory Science, B.S.
- Microbial Ecology/Environmental, B.S.
- Microbial Pathgenesis, B.S.
- Molecular Genetics, B.S.


Occupations
Microbiologists
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
Epidemiologists
Biological Technicians
Biological Scientists

Industries
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

Recent OSU Graduates in
Salaries
Max: $38,000 |
Ave: $30,832 |
Med: $29,995 |
Min: $24,960


Employers
Neos Therapeutics
Oklahoma Medical Research Facility
Oklahoma State University
Red Cross
St. Francis Hospital
VanGuard Sciences

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