Why choose BBMB for your graduate studies?

BBMB Graduate Student Experience

As part of your consideration of the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) graduate programs in biochemistry and biophysics, we want you to know that the overall goal of the program and of the Graduate College at Iowa State University (ISU) is to ensure that each admitted graduate student receive financial, academic, and cultural support necessary for entry, matriculation, and graduation. The excellence we experience in our classrooms and labs is, in large part, tied to ISU’s commitment to diversity. A wide range of perspectives spurs creativity and creativity is essential to strong scholarship and research. The graduate programs of BBMB and ISU's commitment is to help you become an innovative, broadly educated, global citizen who is culturally informed, ready to lead, and prepared for your career.

BBMB was established in 1960, originally as a department of biochemistry and biophysics, one of the first such departments in the United States. The department has graduated more than 1500 B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. students. We know how to direct your motivation and scientific interests toward a life-long career in science. Our graduates have excelled in education, research and service to mankind, as professors at major universities and liberal arts colleges, as scientists in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries and as health-care professionals.

The Quality of Research

BBMB faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their high-impact research contributions and bring in more than $4M a year in competitive grants, and have published over 300 scholarly articles in the last five years in prestigious journals. The department has state-of-the-art instrumentation (including NMR, X-ray crystallography and Mass Spectrometry) to facilitate research at the cutting edge of scientific inquiry and innovation. To learn about current research being conducted by BBMB faculty, visit the Faculty Research Interests web page. Our graduates leave with knowledge, experience, skills, a track record of success, and most importantly, the ability to think independently and solve problems. The multi-cultural environment of the department broadens perspectives, making all aware that future advances in science may come from any institution and any country.

Quality of Advising: (based on a national survey of students attending AAU universities):

BBMB faculty understand the importance of research and academic mentoring for their students and also in preparing them for their future once they earn their advanced degree.

  • Graduate students in BBMB have a peer-led graduate learning community supported by the faculty that focuses on career planning and professional development.
  • 94% of ISU students report that they are treated with respect by faculty compared to 81% nationally
  • 80% of ISU students rated excellent or very good the quality of academic advising and guidance from their adviser, compared to 63% nationally
  • 70% of ISU students had another faculty mentor (separate from their advisor) compared to 56% nationally

Financial Support

  • Ph.D. degree candidates on a half-time (20 hours per week) assistantship receive a yearly stipend of $26,004 ($2,167 per month), 100% tuition scholarship, and free single student health insurance coverage.
  • M.S. degree candidates on a half-time (20 hours per week) assistantship receive a yearly stipend of $24,000 ($2,000 per month) and 50% tuition scholarship, and free self health insurance coverage.
  • Health benefits: Graduate students on a graduate assistantship have the option of paying premiums or coverage for his/her spouse and children.
  • Prescription drug benefit: single coverage free of charge in a prescription drug benefit program that reduces the cost of generic and brand name drugs purchased at the Student Health Center Pharmacy.
  • Travel grants, many advisers support their students to travel to professional conferences. Travel grants of $200 can also be applied for directly at the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) website
  • Arrival of child - 6 weeks paid support for students on assistantship

Quality of Life: “Great place to be a student"

  • 80% of ISU students rated excellent or very good their overall satisfaction with their student life experience, compared to 70% nationally
  • Students in the BBMB graduate program have their own graduate learning community.  The focus of the BBMB GLC is to explore professional development and careers for graduate students studying for their advanced degrees in the area of biochemistry or biophysics.
  • Social events organized by Graduate and Professional Student Senate
  • Ames has been named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live by Livability.com, a national website that ranks quality of life amenities of America’s small and midsized cities.
  • 100 Smartest Cities in America Study.  Ames was named 5th in the 2013 report of the 100 Smartest Cities in America Study by VentureBeat, the leading source for news and perspective on technology innovation.
  • Top 100 Best Places to Live Small Cities. Ames, Iowa, consistently ranks high on in Money magazine's Top 100 Best Places to Live list.

Career Placement

  • 96.5% of our Masters graduates were placed in either further education or professional employment at 6 months after their degree
  • 96.7% of our Ph.D. graduates were placed at 6 months after their degree

Professional Development

  • Individual Development Plan (IDP) to provide a planning process that identifies your professional development needs and career objectives.
  • Regular professional development workshops centered on core competencies; teaching, research, communication, career, and wellness
  • Leadership: The challenges our society is facing require a new generation of leaders who can build collaborations, work across disciplines, and forge stronger solutions from diverse perspectives. We are committed to developing these skills in graduate students and postdocs. Each year we gather a cohort of 20 young leaders in the Graduate College Emerging Leadership Academy (GCELA). Each cohort has broad career aspirations, industry, government, NGO, entrepreneur, and academia.
  • ISU is a member of CIRTL a consortium of 22 universities that makes available a broad range of online courses, webinars and discussions to prepare our graduate students to be better TAs and future faculty members.
  • We have one of the largest Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs in the country. PFF prepares graduates for faculty careers through a combination of seminars, mentoring, and practical classroom and departmental service experiences.

Diversity Support

  • Mentor program: Each incoming graduate student of color is invited to choose a more senior graduate student as well as a faculty/staff member as two additional mentors to support you as you transition to ISU.
  • The Annual GMAP Research Symposium highlights the research contributions of underrepresented minority graduate students at ISU. Students present their research in a relaxed environment allowing them to engage in fruitful discussion and to network with faculty and administrators.
  • Two student groups, Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) and Latino/a Graduate Student Association (LGSA), encourage and promote excellence in teaching and research among graduate students of African descent and Latino/a graduate students. Both groups build community through regular social and professional events.
  • Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS) is a safe space for all members of the university community to explore aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in an open and non-judgmental atmosphere. LGBTSS is committed to providing information and education that enhances the educational experience and overall quality of student life on the Iowa State University campus.


Contact the Graduate Program officePlease contact the BBMB Graduate Program Office Student Admissions Assistant or Connie Garnett (515-294-3317 or 800-433-3464 toll free), the Graduate Program Coordinator.

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