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Figure 1: disciplinary components converge to define geobiological systems and graduate training must emphasize this integration (case-study photograph: elemental S microbial mat from acidic thermal spring YNP).

The MSU IGERT is organized around a “systems” approach, where numerous disciplines are enveloped into a consistent and organized framework for dissecting and reassembling the complexity of microbial habitats, their occupants and their activities (Figure 1). Our goal is to formally unify disciplinary elements in a graduate training program across the life, environmental, and engineering sciences that result in Ph.D. graduates with capabilities to address the complexity of microbial processes in any system, while maintaining significant disciplinary depth.

IGERT Ph.D. students may excel in any one of a number of specific disciplines (see IGERT Participating Faculty) that pertain to the study of microbial communities including but not limited to microbiology, geobiology, biochemistry, engineering and mathematics. Successful research projects will be those that interface with faculty interest. IGERT stipends are provided for 2-2.5 years, after which students will be supported by an IGERT faculty team. IGERT students will have significant opportunities to participate in world-class research projects with nationally recognized faculty and benefit from domestic and international internships. Required IGERT coursework is organized to provide students a clear path towards the development of a graduate thesis project in consultation with an IGERT faculty team.