Design Your Own Concentration

See also: Course requirements for DYOC concentration

Pursue your passion in plants, your way:

In the Plant Sciences major, you select a concentration to complement your breadth of study with some depth. If none of the nine available concentrations align with your career goals and aspirations, you have the option to Design Your Own Concentration (DYOC).

To Design Your Own Concentration, you need to meet with your advisor by the end of your sophomore year (or the end of your first semester here, if you come in as a junior transfer student) and decide on the courses you’d like to take in an independent concentration. Then your advisor will submit a petition on your behalf to the Plant Sciences Curriculum Committee (PSCC) for feedback and approval. This process usually takes 1-3 weeks, depending on when your petition is submitted. Upon approval of your petition, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator will add the DYOC information to your DUST record.Successful DYOC programs can range from a combination of concentrations—with some tweaking and course substitution—to concentrations that are limited only by your imagination and interests.

An example of a DYOC set of courses:

Sam Wolfe, one of our current Plant Sciences students, is pursuing his interests through the DYOC option. (Student Profile:

I have a broad interest in biochemistry, physics, genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, and how all of these fields relate to the physiology and immune responses of plants. I currently work in the Martin Lab at the Boyce Thompson Institute studying the molecular interactions between the gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas syringae and various breeds of tomato plants. Over the past 15 years researchers (including those in the Martin Lab) have discovered that receptors on a plant cell surface can detect bacterial flagella and trigger an immune response, but that the response can be silenced via effector proteins the bacteria injects through the cell wall via a molecular syringe. The mechanics behind the interactions are as complex as they are fascinating, and many of my chosen classes are centered around understanding these and similar cellular events. I plan on attending graduate school and hope to one day work at a research university, national laboratory, or for the USDA.

PHYS 2207 and PHYS 2208: Fundamentals of Physics I & II (8 credits)
The course provides a rich exposure to the methods of physics and to the basic analytical and scientific communication skills required by all scientists. Lectures are illustrated with applications from the sciences, medicine, and everyday life. Labs highlight topics from the lectures and utilize computer-aided data acquisition and analysis. Recitation sections emphasize learning via cooperative problem-solving. The course covers mechanics, conservation laws, gravitation, fluids, oscillations and waves, acoustics and thermal physics.

BIOMG 3310: Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism (3 credits)
The chemical reactions important to biology, and the enzymes that catalyze these reactions, are discussed in an integrated format. Topics include protein folding, enzyme catalysis, bioenergetics, and key reactions of synthesis and catabolism.

BIOMG 3320: Principles of Biochemistry: Molecular Biology (2 credits)
Comprehensive course in molecular biology that covers the structure and properties of DNA, DNA replication and repair, synthesis and processing of RNA and proteins, the regulation of gene expression, and the principles and applications of recombinant DNA technologies, genomics, and proteomics.

PLPPM 4010: Microbial Pathogens vs. Plants: Molecular weapons, Defenses, and Rules of Engagement (3 credits)
This course explores the molecular pieces and collective behaviors of pathogen virulence and plant immune systems, similarities between interaction mechanisms in plant and animal pathosystems, and the application of this knowledge to sustainable agriculture. The course emphasizes the management of scientific literature, creative design and critical evaluation of research, communication of complex scientific concepts to diverse audiences, and discussion of environmental issues associated with transgene-based disease management strategies.

PLBIO 4220: Comparative Plant Development: Evo-Devo (2 credits)
A comparative analysis of the developmental-genetic mechanisms contributing to the evolution of plant morphological structure and diversity. Students will be able to explain, evaluate, and effectively interpret claims, hypotheses, and theories in the evolution of plant development and more broadly in the sciences.

PLBIO 4440: Plant Cell Biology (4 credits)
Uses evidence from microscopy, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to try to unravel the mystery of the living cell. Studies the dynamics of protoplasm, membranes, and the various organelles. The mechanisms of cell growth and division, the relationship of the cytoskeleton to cell shape and motility, the interaction of the cell with its environment, and the processes that give rise to multicellular differentiated plants are investigated.

PLBIO 4620: Plant Biochemistry (3 credits)
Focuses on biochemistry of plant specific processes, with the aim to obtain an integrative overview of plant biochemistry. Examples include processes such as cell wall biochemistry, pigment biosynthesis and degradation, secondary metabolism, senescence, defense mechanisms, amino acid biosynthesis, and small molecule transport. Genomics-based experimental tools such as proteomics and metabolomics are discussed.


Enroll in the DYOC concentration as a Plant Sciences major. Design your education around your goals and dreams. Conduct research. Be a problem solver.