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Why Choose BBMB For Your Graduate Studies?

Graduate Student Experience

BBMB Graduate Student in labAs part of your consideration of the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) graduate programs in biochemistry or biophysics, we want you to know that the overall goal of the program and of the Graduate College at Iowa State University (ISU) is to insure that each admitted graduate student receive the academic and cultural support necessary for entry, matriculation, and graduation. The excellence we experience in our classrooms and laboratories is, in large part, tied to ISU’s commitment to diversity. A wide range of perspectives spurs creativity and creativity is essential to strong scholarship and research.

BBMB was established in 1960, originally as a department of biochemistry and biophysics, one of the first such departments in the United States. The department has graduated more than 1500 B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. students. We know how to direct your motivation and scientific interests toward a life-long career in science. Our graduates have excelled in education, research and service to mankind, as professors at major universities and liberal arts colleges, as scientists in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries and as health-care professionals.  The graduate programs of BBMB and ISU's commitment is to help you become an innovative, broadly educated, global citizen who is culturally informed, ready to lead, and prepared for your career.

Quality of Advising

BBMB faculty understand the importance of research and academic mentoring and in preparing students for further study or for a career following graduation.  Based on a national survey of students attending AAU universities):

  • 94% of ISU students report that they are treated with respect by faculty, compared to 81% nationally
  • 80% of ISU students rated excellent or very good the quality of academic advising and guidance from their adviser, compared to 63% nationally
  • 70% of ISU students had another faculty mentor (separate from their advisor), compared to 56% nationally

Quality of Research

BBMB faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their high-impact research contributions and bring in more than $4M a year in competitive grants, and have published over 300 scholarly articles in the last five years in prestigious journals. The department has state-of-the-art instrumentation (including NMR, X-ray crystallography and Mass Spectrometry) to facilitate research at the cutting edge of scientific inquiry and innovation. To learn about current research being conducted by BBMB faculty, visit the People web page. Our advanced degree graduates leave with knowledge, experience, skills, a track record of success, and most importantly, the ability to think independently and solve problems. The multi-cultural environment of the department broadens perspectives, making all aware that future advances in science may come from any institution and any country.

The recently approved Graduate Certificate in Biochemistry offers courses taught by BBMB faculty conducting high-impact research and provides students a mechanism for formal recognition of focused graduate study in a specialized area that is less comprehensive than required for a master's degree.

Financial Support

Most graduate degree students enter the program on a research assistantship that provides financial support in the form of a stipend, tuition scholarship, and free single student health insurance. The program also offers training in the teaching of biochemistry at the undergraduate that is supported by a teaching assistantship. Financial support is renewable annually based on academic standing and satisfactory research performance. In addition, all degree students are eligible for:

  • Dependent health coverage. Graduate students on an assistantship have the option to purchase premiums for coverage for his/her spouse and children
  • Prescription drug benefit. Single coverage free of charge in a prescription drug benefit program that reduces the cost of generic and brand name drugs purchased at the Student Health Center Pharmacy
  • Dental insurance. Graduate students on assistantship have the option to purchase dental insurance coverage
  • Travel grants. Many advisers support their students to travel to professional conferences. Students can also apply for a Professional Advancement Grant (PAG) of $200 from their Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) website to help support travel expenses to meetings
  • Arrival of child. Up to six weeks paid support for students on assistantship

Quality of Life: “Great place to be a student"

Video: Your life in Ames

  • 80% of ISU students rated excellent or very good their overall satisfaction with their student life experience, compared to 70% nationally
  • Students in the BBMB graduate program have their own graduate learning community.  The focus of the BBMB GLC is to explore professional development and careers for graduate students studying for their advanced degrees in the area of biochemistry or biophysics.
  • The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS), founded in 1969, represents the graduate and professional students' perspective on campus issues and serves as a liaison between graduate/professional students and the university administration. BBMB has one GPSS representative. The GPSS Social Facebook page keeps students informed on issues and social events.
  • Child Care Resources. The ISU office of ISU Child Care and Family Resources is available to provide assistance as you develop a system of care and support for your family.
  • The ISU Center for Veterans located on campus in the Memorial Union is dedicated to the success of Veterans, military personnel and family members.  The Center offers an area for students to study, eat, and relax with each other.
  • Ames consistently garners national recognition for its favorable economy, business climate, cost of living and sense of community (Ames Chamber of Commerce

Career Placement and Outcomes

The Graduate College Career Services office provides students with the resources needed for career preparation and placement. The Career Service offices of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS)  (the colleges that jointly administer BBMB), publish an annual report on career outcomes for graduated students, and Biochemistry and Biophysics graduates consistently rank high in career placement. The Graduate College also reports that:

  • 96.5% of our Masters graduates were placed in either further education or professional employment at 6 months after their degree
  • 96.7% of our Ph.D. graduates were placed at 6 months after their degree

Professional Development

  • All first-year degree students are required to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP), with guidance from the BBMB graduate learning community (GLC), which provides a planning process that identifies professional development needs and career objectives. Student results can be used by the GLC to plan workshops and seminars in addition to social events. Students can update their IDP regularly and review their professional development needs and career objectives with their faculty mentor as needed.
  • Regular professional development workshops are offered by the Graduate College that are centered on core competencies; teaching, research, communication, career, and wellness
  • Leadership: The challenges our society is facing require a new generation of leaders who can build collaborations, work across disciplines, and forge stronger solutions from diverse perspectives. We are committed to developing these skills in graduate students and postdocs. Each year we gather a cohort of 20 young leaders in the Graduate College Emerging Leadership Academy (GCELA). Each cohort has broad career aspirations, industry, government, NGO, entrepreneur, and academia.
  • ISU is a member of CIRTL a consortium of 22 universities that makes available a broad range of online courses, webinars and discussions to prepare our graduate students to be better TAs and future faculty members.
  • We have one of the largest Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs in the country. PFF prepares graduates for faculty careers through a combination of seminars, mentoring, and practical classroom and departmental service experiences.

Diversity Support

  • Mentor program: Each incoming graduate student of color is invited to choose a more senior graduate student as well as a faculty/staff member as two additional mentors to support you as you transition to ISU.
  • The Annual GMAP Research Symposium highlights the research contributions of underrepresented minority graduate students at ISU. Students present their research in a relaxed environment allowing them to engage in fruitful discussion and to network with faculty and administrators.
  • Two student groups, the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) and the Latino/a Graduate Student Association (LGSA), encourage and promote excellence in teaching and research among graduate students of African descent and Latino/a graduate students. Both groups build community through regular social and professional events.
  • Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS) is a safe space for all members of the university community to explore aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in an open and non-judgmental atmosphere. LGBTSS is committed to providing information and education that enhances the educational experience and overall quality of student life on the Iowa State University campus.


Please contact the BBMB Graduate Program Office Student Admissions Assistant or Allison Ringholz (515-294-3317 or 800-433-3464 toll free), the Graduate Program Coordinator.

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