Track title: Plant Biology: Without plants, all higher life would cease
Plants transform the solar energy that drives nearly all living processes on Earth. These organisms are the primary source of human and animal nutrition. They are also critically important in terms of environmental changes to the biosphere as a whole.
This track is research oriented. As a student with an interest in molecular biology and physiology, you can join the research programmes of the groups Molecular Plant Physiology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, or Plant Ecophysiology. All of these groups have research programs across the scales of genetics – molecular biology – plant physiology – plant-environment interactions.
All research groups focus on a variety of fundamental and applied research questions. Your research training will involve investigations at the level of cells, individual plants or plants in their environmental context.
One of the strengths of the Plant Biology track is that it places knowledge of molecular and cellular mechanisms in an environmental or agricultural context, helping you to bridge the gap between molecular biology and real-world environments and applications.
Track title: Fungal Biology: Key players in cycling the elements on Earth
Although fungi are less visible than plants, they are key players in nature. Fungi are essential in degrading organic material (waste recycling), establish mutual beneficial symbiosis with plants and animals and can be devastating pathogens as well. In addition, they are a main cause of food spoilage. On the other hand, fungi are of key importance for mankind by providing food (e.g. mushrooms) and in the production of food (e.g. cheese, wine, beer, soy sauce). Moreover, they are used in biotechnology for the production of materials, enzymes and metabolites such as pharmaceuticals.
If you have an interest in microbiology, you can join the research programmes of the groups Microbiology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, or the Utrecht Fungal Biodiversity Centre. With this research-oriented specialisation track you will have the opportunity to work on fundamental research topics such as “How fungi choose from Nature’s menu”, “The fungal protein factory”, “Fungal biodiversity”, and “Control of mushroom diseases.”
Track title: Ecology & Natural Resource Management: Protect the Earth
This specialisation track uses an interdisciplinary approach to provide you with the tools that are needed to address environmental concerns brought on by human society and industrialisation. You will learn how to protect biodiversity and sustainably manage the Earth's natural resources.
Ecology & Natural Resource Management prepares you to generate and disseminate knowledge in the ecological and environmental sciences. Members of the participating research groups offer lectures on the latest developments in the field of ecology of natural resources. Guest lecturers from NGOs and governmental organisations provide the context for these developments from their day-to-day work.
In addition to your internship at the UU, you will have the opportunity to do an internship outside the University in a private company, consultancy, governmental institution (ministry, province, or municipality), advisory board, NGO, or applied research centre, either in the Netherlands or abroad.
Track title: Behavioural Ecology: Protect animals and their habitats
This track is research oriented and offers you an interdisciplinary setting in which to explore animal behaviour in relation to social behaviour, welfare, ecology and conservation.
The Behavioural Ecology track takes a multi-level approach to understanding the causes and consequences of animal behavior. We do this through the integration of evolutionary and proximate approaches, taking a unique multidisciplinary approach to animal behavioural research. Coursework covers a variety of taxa (particularly primates and birds).
During your studies, you can join the research programmes of the groups Animal Behaviour & Cognition (Biology, Utrecht University), Department Population Health (Veterinary Sciences, Utrecht University), the Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO), and the Centre for Research and Conservation of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (Antwerp Zoo). These highly regarded research groups offer you the ability to work on topics such as social cognition and behaviour, social learning and animal innovation, ecology of animal personalities, animal welfare, zoo breeding programs, and wildlife conservation.