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Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)

Picture of boat researchThe Master of Science in Integrative Biology offered by the Department of Biology and Physics combines traditional research-based graduate training in the field of biology with a strong emphasis on the rapidly emerging paradigm of integrative biology.  While students center their research within a particular area of biology based on faculty expertise, the program incorporates through course work and collaboration an integrative approach that spans scales (e.g. molecules, cells, populations, ecosystems) and disciplines (e.g. genetics, physiology, and physics) within biology and outside of biology.

What is Integrative Biology?
Integrative biology is an emerging scientific paradigm that assembles concepts and information from different disciplines and from different scales to produce a more complete understanding of biological systems and to better answer some of the great scientific questions of our day. Integrative biology is a response to the exponential growth of scientific knowledge over the last two centuries that has resulted in the specialization and compartmentalization of various subdisciplines. Integrative biology recognizes that no one person can master these many fields, but instead that research must be designed to bring people’s specialized expertise together and to integrate their knowledge and skills in order to solve a common problem.

Why Integrative Biology?
The MSIB program at KSU trains graduate students to solve biological problems using knowledge from multiple fields. Students who graduate with an MS in Integrative Biology degree are more versatile than a conventionally trained graduate because they can provide connectivity in interdisciplinary teams and adaptability to changing workplace needs in industry, research, and education. The integrative approach in their training will allow them to better anticipate changes in the marketplace, as well as to more successfully solve complex biological questions.  Recognition of the importance of this field is widespread and growing. Evidence for the trend appears in the recent establishment of Departments and Programs of Integrative Biology, funding agencies that stress integrative science and new societies andjournals that espouse integrative biology. A recent report from the National Research Council of the National Academies clearly stresses the need for an integrative approach in thebiological sciences:

"The ways in which we think about and pursue research in biology are changing rapidly. In the past decade, powerful innovations — including recombinant DNA, instrumentation, and the digital revolution — have altered fundamentally the ways in which biology is done. Biologists are increasingly intrigued by the challenges of deciphering how components such as molecules, cells, or organisms interact to produce higher-order structures and properties. They are studying the ways in which molecules can affect cells, or ways in which cells can affect organ systems, or how individual organisms affect populations and ecosystems. At all levels of biological organization, the elucidation and understanding of integrated systems are moving to center stage."