Biochemistry Ph.D. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is committed to being recognized nationally and internationally at the forefront of molecular bioscience research and education and providing the region, state, and national workforce with outstanding graduates with superior knowledge, analytical research skills and abilities to investigate the molecular basis of living systems. As part of this mission, we offer a Ph.D. degree program in biochemistry and molecular biology that serves as the terminal degree for preparing professionals for the workforce as biochemists and molecular biologists in the public, private and government sectors. The curriculum places an emphasis on developing the skills to conduct independent scientific research, and to expand technical, analytical, critical thinking and problem solving skills in the molecular biosciences. Graduates will be prepared to start successful careers and assume leadership positions in the animal, insect, plant and biomedical research and biotechnology industries.

Program Outcomes

1.  Students will exhibit timely progression through the Ph.D. program.

Student Performance Indicators

  • After two semesters in the program, each student, in cooperation with their graduate advisor, will perform the following indicators:
  • Enroll in recommended coursework providing background and information to conduct research in molecular biosciences.
  • Select a dissertation topic.
  • Write a dissertation proposal describing the research they plan to conduct and the timetable they plan to follow.
  • Select their committee and hold a meeting to solicit committee input and approval of program of study and dissertation topic.

Assessment Method

  • Annual progress report, due each May 15, will be reviewed by student's graduate committee to determine what coursework has been completed, whether the student has formed a committee and written their dissertation proposal.
  • Report will also include an assessment by the advisor as to the student's progress that year.
  • A copy of the dissertation proposal will be filed with the graduate program director.

2.  Graduates will be prepared for employment as professionals in appropriate scientific disciplines.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Students will report employment in biochemistry and molecular biology or related fields that require technical expertise acquired during the Ph.D. degree.

Assessment Method

  • A structured exit interview will be performed to gather employment statistics by the graduate program director and departmental personnel.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate an advanced level of competency in the general fields of biochemistry and molecular biology and in the specialized subject area of their research.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will write a grant proposal style comprehensive exam that demonstrates the student's competency in both general and subject areas.
  • Students will defend the written grant proposal in an oral comprehensive exam that demonstrates the student's competency in both general and subject areas.
  • Students will complete a written Ph.D. comprehensive exam administered by their committee after the end of their fourth semester in the program.
Assessment Method
  • Assessment of the student's competency in both general and subject areas will be reflected in the quality of their written proposal.
  • The oral Ph.D. comprehensive exam will be assessed by the student's committee and a grade of pass or fail will be assigned.
  • The written Ph.D. comprehensive exam will be assessed by the student's committee and a grade of pass or fail will be assigned.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate competence in oral and written communication skills including the ability to write and present independent research, write research grant proposals and journal articles suitable for publication, and the ability to read and critically evaluate relevant scientific literature in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students will present orally their dissertation research proposal to their committee members.
  • Students will present their research results at local, regional, national, and international professional scientific meetings.
  • Students will give a public presentation summarizing the results of their Ph.D. dissertation research and its significance as part of their final dissertation defense.
  • Students will submit a written Ph.D. dissertation proposal.
  • Students will submit a Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Students will submit research grants within their areas of specialization to professional organizations and granting agencies to aid in funding their research and travel to meetings.
  • Students will give a minimum of two oral presentations on various topics at the graduate seminar series during the second to fourth years in the program.
Assessment Method
  • The Ph.D dissertation committee members will assess the student's proposal presentation and provide feedback to the student.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the numbers of talks and poster presentations given by Ph.D. students at professional scientific meetings as reported by students in their annual progress reports.
  • The Ph.D. dissertation committee members and audience will evaluate and provide feedback to the student following their public presentation.
  • The Ph.D. committee members will read and evaluate the written Ph.D. dissertation proposal and provide feedback to the student.
  • The Ph.D. dissertation advisor and committee members will read, evaluate, and edit drafts of dissertation chapters and provide feedback of each draft and give their approval/disapproval.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the number of grant proposals submitted by Ph.D. students each year as reported by the students in their annual progress reports.
  • Instructor and audience of the graduate seminar course provides feedback and evaluation of their oral presentation skills.

3.  Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to complete laboratory-based research in their field of study, including the mastery of common and specialized techniques and instrumentation used in performing biochemical and molecular biology experimentation, the testing of a hypothesis or answering scientific questions formulated independently or in conjunction with the advisor and committee members.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Completion of Ph.D. degree in a timely manner.
  • Students complete Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Acceptance of manuscripts for publication in competitive peer-reviewed journals.
  • Students will complete two semesters of laboratory rotations during their first year in the program. Progress of each rotation will be documented by a written report to faculty advisor.
Assessment Method
  • Program director will track the time to degree completion for all Ph.D. students in the program.
  • Faculty advisor and committee approve/disapprove Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Graduate director will keep statistics on the number of publications submitted by Ph.D. students each year as reported by the students in their annual progress reports.
  • Faculty advisor will read and evaluate the written report and assign a A-F grade and provide feedback to the student about their lab performance. Graduate director will track submission of reports and coordinate grading.