About the Genetics Area Program

View the GAP Curriculum

We believe that an understanding of genetics is essential in solving global problems such as famine, environmental degradation and disease.

The Genetics Area Program (GAP) is an interdisciplinary PhD program that will prepare you for a research or teaching career in genetics. As genetic analysis is used in all aspects of biological research, our Program has integrated the efforts of approximately 60 life sciences faculty into one of the strongest training programs at MU. The curriculum provides broad, individualized training tailored to your career objectives.

Minimum requirements for the PhD degree:

  • advanced courses in genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology
  • regular participation in the genetics seminar series
  • three seminar presentations
  • at least one semester of teaching in a genetics course
  • successful completion of a comprehensive examination
  • research dissertation and oral defense.

Genetics graduate students play a major role in the research programs of our life sciences departments. Students spend approximately twelve weeks in three different laboratories during their first year. This promotes diversity in techniques learned, and it encourages students to meet and work with faculty members in the associated departments. This scientific interaction helps our students choose a lab in which to complete the degree.

As part of the degree, students will spend a semester teaching or assisting with a course in the Genetics curriculum that is relevant to their career goals.

A genetics seminar series is organized and conducted by the graduate students to promote research interest and encourage scientific communication. Speakers include prominent researchers from universities throughout the country, as well as MU faculty. An annual retreat brings faculty and students together to share research results and techniques.

Genetics graduates leave MU with a strong scientific background, excellent laboratory skills and interpersonal communication abilities.

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About the GAP Students

Average Undergraduate:

  • GPA = 3.595
  • Average GRE = 1889
  • Verbal = 517
  • Quantitative = 705
  • Analytical = 668
  • Subject Test = 697
  • (Bio.Sci. or Biochem.)
  • Number of Male Students = 18
  • Number of Female Students = 6
  • Number of International Students = 11
  • Number of Minority Students = 0

Research Area:

  • 45% of our students are in an Agronomy/Plant Pathology lab.
  • 20% of our students are in a Biological Sciences lab.
  • 5% of our students are in a Biochemistry lab.
  • 5% of our students are in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.
  • 10% of our students are in a Food Science and Human Nutrition lab.
  • 15% of our students are in Animal Sciences or Vet Pathobiology.

Where are they from?

  • 10% of our students are from Missouri
  • 25% of our students are from the surrounding Midwestern states.
  • 14% of our students are from western states.
  • 5% of our students are from southern states.
  • 46% of our students are from outside the U.S.

History of Genetics at MU

The University of Missouri-Columbia has a distinguished history in genetics. An early faculty member who helped build the program was Lewis J. Stadler. Stadler co-discovered the fact that X-rays would cause mutations using barley and maize. Many of Stadler's students had exceptional careers.

Herschel Roman was chair of the Genetics Department at the U. of Washington for many years and was one of the originators of the field of yeast genetics.

Seymour Fogel was chair of the Genetics Department at the U. of California-Berkeley and also a major contributor to early work in yeast genetics.

John Laughnan was chair of the Botany Department at the U. of Illinois and made significant contributions to the genetics of cytoplasmic male sterility in maize and was the discoverer of supersweet corn!

Stadler also helped attract others to the faculty. Barbara McClintock, who later won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her discovery of transposable elements was a member of the faculty for five years.

Several distinguished Drosophila geneticists also were faculty members. Mel Green worked on genetic fine structure and mutagenesis. Ed Novitski developed many techniques for chromosomal manipulation and contributed much to our understanding of transmission genetics in flies. When Novitski was a faculty member at Missouri, he had two associates, Dan Lindsley, a postdoctorate, and Larry Sandler, a graduate student. These two individuals continued to collaborate throughout their careers to develop many of the cytogenetic tools of Drosophila.

George Redei was instrumental in developing the genetic system of Arabidopsis. Ed Coe was awarded the 1992 Genetics Society of America's Thomas Hunt Morgan medal for his work in maize genetics.

Gerry Neuffer devleoped methods for mutagenesis in maize and assembled the volume, The Mutants of Maize.

Ernie Sears was a prominent wheat geneticist. Sears greatly advanced knowledge of genetic processes on polyploids and chromosome pairing. He also revolutionized wheat genetics by developing monosomic and nullisomic strains and demonstrating their utility in genetic analysis. Sears was awarded the Wolfe Prize for his scientific contributions made a MU.

The current faculty are devoted to providing a graduate education that will uphold our tradition and will proved our graduates with the background to make equally significant contributions in the future.

Corrections or questions about the site? E-mail GAP@missouri.edu.