July 4, 2015

History and Overview

The Joint PhD Program

Brown University and the Marine Biological Lab (MBL) launched a joint PhD program in Biology and Environmental Science in 2003. By teaming with Brown, MBL scientists and the work they conduct is enriched by the involvement of graduate students. Moreover, the partnership between the institutions allows MBL scientists to participate in educational and research activities at a level that would not be possible without a university partner. By partnering with MBL, Brown gains critical mass in the rapidly-growing fields of environmental science, microbiology, genomics and cellular imaging, and increases the quality and impact of its science through collaborative research ventures.

To date, 34 students representing nine departments at Brown have participated in the joint program.  Sixteen students have graduated with PhDs, six have left the program with Master’s Degrees, and  11 students are currently enrolled in the program.

The Expanded Partnership

Beginning in 2007, and based on the initial success of the joint graduate program, a committee of Brown and MBL faculty and administrators began a planning process to envision a broader collaborative science program between the two institutions. This initiative led to the receipt of endowment gifts to Brown and MBL to expand the joint relationship to what was named the Brown-MBL Partnership to reflect the broadening of the program’s focus to expand research as well as education. These funds allowed for the hiring of a permanent director for the Partnership. Christopher Neill, an ecologist and Director of MBL’s Ecosystems Center, was appointed as Director of the Partnership in January 2010.

As part of the expanded Brown-MBL Partnership, three other MBL scientists, David Mark Welch, and Linda Amaral Zettler of the Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution and Jim Tang of the Ecosystems Center, were appointed to 0.25 FTE appointments at Brown. In addition, 16 other MBL scientists hold unpaid appointments at Brown, many of them dating back to the pre-expanded partnership years.  Three Brown professors hold joint appointments at MBL.

Other elements of the expanded partnership include an increasing number of exciting collaborative research projects, including the PIRE project and the IGERT project, new jointly-conceived and taught courses, SEED grants to encourage collaborative initiatives, and summer internship opportunities for a growing number of Brown undergraduates at the MBL and/or MBL field sites.