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Biological Sciences

College of Arts & Sciences

The Plant Sciences Pathway is a suggested curriculum for students interested in studying the biology of plants, and which can lead to careers in the following areas (links below provide additional information regarding the appropriate training leading to occupational opportunities in these fields).

Students may choose to complete either a standard 36 hour major with a minor in another field, or a 50 credit hour concentration without a minor.


The following courses offered by the Department of Biological Sciences are suggested by the faculty for those students whose interests are focused on studying the biology of plants.

A course is required in each of the menu areas below for the Biology major. Multiple electives are suggested and they reflect the diversity of appropriate courses made available to students by the Biology department as well as within other departments at the University.

Organismal menu

  • BIOL 4767 - Plant Physiology and Development (4 credits) – fall semester

Population menu

  • BIOL 4087 Plant Ecology and Evolution (4 credits) – fall odd years

Biodiversity menu

  • BIOL 3420 - Plant Biology (4 credits) spring semester

  • BIOL 4337 - Plant Systematics (4 credits) – fall even years

Molecular menu

Note that in the molecular menu, both the lecture and the lab course must be completed.

  • BIOL 4167 - Biochemistry of Metabolism (3 credits) – spring semester

  • BIOL 4177 - Biochemistry of Metabolism Lab (2 credits) – spring semester

Electives suggestions

  • BIOL 3150 - Cell Biology (3 credits) - every semester

  • BIOL 3151 - Cell Biology Lab (2 credits) - every semester

  • BIOL 4147 - Biochemistry of Macromolecules (3 credits) – fall semester

  • BIOL 4157 - Biochemistry of Macromolecules Lab (2 credits) – fall semester

  • BIOL 4247 - Appalachian Flora  (3 credits) - summer

  • BIOL 4367 - Modeling Biological Systems (3 credits) - fall semester

  • BIOL 4737 - Conservation Biology (4 credits) – fall, even years

  • BIOL 4900 - Independent Study (1-4 credits) - every semester

  • BIOL 4910 - Research in Biology (1-4 credits) - every semester

  • GEOG 3500 - Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)

FACULTY: Undergraduate teaching, training in research and career guidance is a large part of the commitment of our regular faculty in Biological Sciences. Our faculty value interaction with students and encourage individual discussions and participation in research projects. The following faculty have expertise in the plant sciences. Students who intend to pursue graduate school or a career in the plant sciences are strongly encouraged to take a Research in Biology (BIOL 4910) 3-12 credits, Independent Study (BIOL4900) and/or Seminar in Biology (BIOL 4300) course.

Gerardo Arceo-Gomez - Research interests include plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, pollination biology and plant community ecology. (Faculty Website) (Research Website)

Aruna Kilaru - Research in molecular and biochemical regulation of lipid-mediated stress signaling and lipid biosynthesis in plants.

Dhirendra Kumar – Research in biochemistry and molecular biology of disease resistance and environmental stress signaling in plants. (Faculty Website)

Tim McDowell - My research interests include taxonomy and phylogeny of neotropical Rubiaceae, and floristics of the Southern Appalachians and the Ecuadorian Andes, and I curate ETSU's John C. Warden Herbarium.

Cecilia McIntosh - Research in structure and function of plant flavonoid glucosyltransferase enzymes from grapefruit. (Faculty Website)


  • Analytical Biochemistry Laboratories
  • Arboretum
  • Greenhouses
  • Herbarium
  • Molecular Biology Laboratories
  • Plant Research Laboratories

Professional Associations Related to Plant Science:

  1. American Horticulture Society
  2.  American Phytopathological Society  Resources related to the field of plant pathology.
  3. American Society of Agronomy  Resources related to the field of agronomy.
  4. American Society of Consulting Arborists  International and national resources related to arboriculture.
  5. American Society of Plant Biologists Resources related to the field of plant science.
  6. Botanical Society of America  Resources regarding botany for scientists, educators, and students.
  7. CropLife America  Crop protection organization includes industry links, testimonials, and position papers.
  8. Crop Science Society of America  Resources related to the field of crop science.
  9. Golf Course Superintendents Association of America  Extensive information on the field including career resources, information for students, events and much more.
  10. International Seed Federation  Includes seed statistics, FAQ on seed related topics, listings of international seed associations.
  11. International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Information of types of careers in arboriculture as well as educational resources, conferences, and links to many other resources related to the green industry. 
  12. Phytochemical Society of North America:  Society to encourage and stimulate research in the chemistry and biochemistry of plant constituents, their effects upon plant and animal physiology and pathology, and their industrial importance and utilization.
  13. Plantae The digital ecosystem for the plant science community. Plantae is home to plant scientists from all over the world. Members can share resources, participate in discussions, create groups, browse or post jobs, access online seminars and much more!      
  14. TNLA: Tennessee Nursery & Landscape Association   Resources students to gain access to career and employment opportunities related to Landcare.
  15. Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association  Information and resources for writers, editors, and communicators in the green industry.

Additional Resources for Plant Science

  1. E-Journals on Botany  These are links to journals in which articles concerning plant biology are published.
  2. Gardening Resources  Links to resources related to gardening, landscaping, and the environment.
  3. Horticulture & Crop Science in Virtual Perspective  Ohio State’s Horticulture and Crop Science knowledge bank resources.
  4. Horticulture Resources  Includes links to many resources related to horticulture including special interest groups, academic resources, professional organizations and horticulture related societies.
  5. USDA: Plants Database  Standardized information about plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens in the US.
  6. Plant Sciences Blogs:
  7. Fast plant resources:

Plant Species Databases

   Comprehensive databases

  1. USDA Plants Database - Search for information about a plant species of your choice or plant species in your state and more...
  2. Dave's Garden - Look up information about a plant species of choice (has links to commercial seed vendors)
  3. UConn Plant Database - Search for plant species with traits you like (e.g., evergreen shrub with yellow flowers)
  4. Database of Plant Databases - Search for plant databases by name or content
  5. USDA Forest Service Plant Database - Search for information about a plant species of choice by name or trait
  6. TROPICOS - A plant information database from the Missouri Botanical Garden

   Specialized databases

  1. Crop Database - an alphabetic list of crop plants and information about them
  2. Plant Care - Database of indoor plants and information on plant care
  3. Conifers - Database of gymnosperms (non-flowering plants)
  4. Carnivorous Plants - Database of carnivorous plants by International Carnivorous Plants Society
  5. Poisonous Plants - List of poisonous plants and symptoms from Cornell University
  6. Tropical Plants - List of tropical plants (The Amazon plants)
  7. Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical databases - Searchable databases to identify plants producing phytochemicals having specific activities (e.g., anti-cancer compounds)

   Native / invasive plant databases

  1. List of state native plant societies (Thanks to South Carolina native plant society)
  2. Invasive plant species - USDA list of invasive plant databases
  3. Invasive plant species of the United States - from New York Botanical Garden

Functional Genomics Tools

  1. Arabidopsis Information Resources:
  3. Gramene:
  4. Phytozome- The Plant Genome Resources:
  5. Plant Ontology:
  6. Solanaceae database:
  7. The National Center for Biotechnology Information:
  8. The Bio-Analytic Resource for Plant Biology:
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