The future belongs to scientists that are able to take advantage of a variety of research tools from different disciplines to solve complex biological problems. The cornerstone of the training experience provided by the CMS is the interdisciplinary nature of the research projects in which our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars participate. Our ability to offer such a research experience results from the number of faculty in disciplines as diverse as genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, biophysics, inorganic chemistry, and spectroscopy. This unique collection of expertise was recognized in 1990 by the National Science Foundation, who awarded the CMS one of their first ten Research Training Group (RTG) Awards, specifically designed to support such interdisciplinary training. This RTG award was renewed in 1995 and a total budget of $2.8M is used by the CMS to support interdisciplinary training in the field of metallobiochemistry.
The majority of RTG resources are used to fund graduate traineeships for incoming and current graduate students. RTG trainees pursue a research project focused on some aspect of metals in biology and designed to provide a multidisciplinary research experience. Trainees are required to spend a significant amount of time in CMS faculty laboratories in different disciplines. For example, many of our trainees learn recombinant DNA techniques (PCR, cloning, site-directed mutagenesis, etc.) in one laboratory, then use sophisticated spectroscopic techniques (electron paramagnetic resonance, magnetic circular dichroism, resonance Raman, nuclear magnetic resonance, x-ray absorption, etc.) in another laboratory. In this way, students who will concentrate on molecular biology techniques in their careers achieve a detailed appreciation for the information available from biophysical techniques, whereas future biophysicists gain a working knowledge of the tools used by molecular biologists. This is just one example of how these interdisciplinary traineeships enrich the learning experience for our graduate students. The cross-fertilization that results from these traineeships provides for broad graduate training that will be a real asset to you as a Ph.D. scientist.
An important aspect of a successful RTG traineeship is the formulation of an integrated, truly multidisciplinary research project that takes advantage of the expertise of the CMS faculty involved. First-year graduate students often find it difficult to develop such a coherent project immediately upon arrival, so we encourage our first-year trainees to experience the research environment of a number of CMS laboratories during their first year. This rotation gives the trainees time to identify an appropriate interdisciplinary project, which they can pursue vigorously during their second year. These traineeships also exempt graduate students from any teaching responsibilities of the member departments during the tenure of the traineeship, so more time can be devoted to the interdisciplinary research project.
As a CMS RTG trainee, you will receive your degree from a member department (e.g., Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Microbiology) and be admitted to the department of your choice. Application for the traineeships is made through the CMS.
Please send me information on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Traineeships.
The University of Georgia has another RTG progam on Prokaryotic Diversity that offers traineeships in interdisciplinary research projects involving microbiology. You can learn more about the National Science Foundation Research Training Group program from their web page.