EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE STATE OF
The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents
Goals 2 and 4
Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)
the Regents approve an amendment to the master plan of the
Reason for Consideration
Required by State regulation.
This question will come before the Board of Regents at its October 2006 meeting for final action.
plan amendment is required because this would establish the
The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
It is recommended that the master
plan of the
Information in Support of Recommendation
1869 as an institution of scientific research and education and chartered as an
educational institution by the New York State Legislature, the
The proposed program aims to train the next generation of biologists through an integrative approach that focuses on the history, evolutionary relationships, and interactions among species. Unlike much of biology, which tends to focus on a single exemplar organism or a small subset of model organisms, this approach mirrors the complexity of many of the most pressing and promising areas in science today and takes advantage of the AMNH’s unique and unparalleled resources, including its world-renowned collections; a legacy of excellence in field discovery and theoretical advances; a critical mass of scientists in the field of comparative biology; and a public mission, which lends invaluable social context, connection, and depth to students’ work. The program defines comparative biology as the study of organisms broadly, relationships among organisms, and evolutionary biodiversity. This is a field in which AMNH has existing strength and coverage and can demonstrate leadership to support a unique program that will attract and serve the very best students. Thirty AMNH faculty members and the majority of the current graduate students work in this area.
Many university programs lack the kind of training required to equip tomorrow’s scientists with the broad perspective called for by the burgeoning and complex field of biology. The Museum’s program will address this need through its new Ph.D. program in combination with its ongoing university partnerships.
university faculty, the
Of the 45
existing faculty members, 36 will be directly involved in the AMNH’s new Ph.D.
program in Comparative Biology.
These AMNH faculty members, through the longstanding formal partnerships
mentioned above with CUNY,
The curriculum is intensive, immersive, flexible, and field- and collections-based. Students are required to complete a minimum of 62 credits through a combination of:
The course of study is four years (12-month program), and deemed realistic given the expected self-selecting nature of the student body. Projections, however, allow for some students to extend to a fifth year.
AMNH expects to attract a group of highly motivated, exceptionally prepared U.S. and international students interested in an intensive experience and who have demonstrated a high degree of proficiency in undergraduate or prior graduate training and an interest in conducting original, creative research in one of the program’s areas of focus. Students must have a bachelor’s degree and must submit transcripts, GRE scores, letters of support, and a written essay. Final candidates will be interviewed.
will be open to all applicants regardless of sex, sexual orientation, religion,
ethnicity, or country of origin.
The Museum will make special efforts to recruit students from populations
underrepresented in science, such as minorities and women. To ensure excellent supervision and
adequate financial support, the program will be limited to four to six new
students each year and funded by the Museum. By the fifth year, the
School also will be served by significant existing instructional space and
resources, which include at least ten existing classrooms and laboratories as
well as numerous informal spaces (including cafeterias), located throughout the
institution. AMNH is exceptionally
well equipped for research in comparative biology, with 10,000 square feet of
molecular systematics laboratories, including a new laboratory that opened for
operation in March 2006. These labs
house state-of-the-art equipment supporting many aspects of DNA analysis. Other existing scientific facilities
include a powerful parallel computing facility, a frozen tissue collection, an
imaging and microscopy laboratory, and the Southwestern Research Station, a
field station in
existing facilities notwithstanding, the AMNH has developed a capital plan with
the goal of creating within the existing AMNH campus a new “home” for the
To date, AMNH has raised $54 million in funding for graduate training, which includes full funding for all students in the program.
There is a growing need in academia, industry, government, and medicine for rigorously trained biologists to understand and interpret the social and scientific challenges of the 21st century and to take advantage of unprecedented new opportunities in environmental conservation, human health, and related fields. The career success of students who have previously trained at AMNH is strong and points to the efficacy of the AMNH’s training programs and the preparedness of its students to enter and become leaders in the field.
A site visit was conducted by a team of peer reviewers who found the AMNH to meet registration standards. A canvass was conducted of all doctoral degree-granting institutions statewide and all institutions in the New York City Region. Four responses were received expressing support for the program and one expressing no objection to the proposed program.