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About the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Graduate Program

Leader in BCB Programs in the U.S.

Iowa State University has been recognized as one of the top Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) PhD programs in the nation. 

The Iowa State University Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) Program offers Ph.D. training at the intersections of Biological, Computing and Information Sciences. BCB alums have achieved superior outcomes in the academic, industrial and public sectors.  Information on BCB alum outcomes for our 100+ graduates is on the alumni page.

The BCB Graduate program is one of the first Bioinformatics and Computational Biology PhD programs in the United States. A history of the BCB program is here.

Administration of the BCB Program

Because BCB is an interdepartmental graduate program, faculty from many departments participate in the program. They contribute their time and energy to mentoring students in the BCB major and to leading the program through administrative roles.  Currently, Iddo Friedberg, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, and Justin Walley, Plant Pathology and Microbiology are the chair and Associate Chair of the BCB program.  More information on BCB faculty and others involved with the administration of the BCB program can be found here.

On the move

An Iowa State University presidential initiative in Big Data recruited several new faculty and provided for state-of-the art supercomputing resources.  A number of these faculty have joined the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) Graduate Program faculty.  These researchers continue to enhance our interdisciplinary graduate program and bring exciting research opportunities for incoming BCB students. 

Here is a summary of their research interests:

  • Carolyn Lawrence, GDCB, Phenotype Prediction for Basic Research, Comparative Genomics
  • Geetu Tuteja, GDCB, Gene regulation in development and disease.
  • Wei Wang, PLPM, Systems biology (circadian clock and plant immunity).
  • Justin Walley, PLPM, Plant-microbe interactions.
  • Tracy Heath, EEOB, Computational/statistics methods for phylogenetics.
  • Amy Vincent, USDA-ARS, Epidemiology of influenza in swine.
  • Iddo Friedberg, VMPM, Protein structure/function prediction.
  • Ludovico Cademartiri, MSE, Plant-plant interactions via roots.
  • Adina Howe, ABE, Complex microbial systems.
  • Marna Yandeau-Nelson, BBMB, Genetic networks of metabolomic traits.

Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities

Iowa State University (ISU) has world-class research programs in Statistics, Bioinformatics, and Computational and Information Sciences and Engineering.

Predictive Plant Phenomics

Recently BCB faculty obtained a $3 million, 5 year, NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) grant in the Predictive Phenomics of Plants (P3).  They are interested in recruiting exceptional students capable of addressing the major agronomic challenges of the 21st century. P3 fellows will be trained in Engineering, Plant Sciences, and Data Sciences.

A P3 interdisciplinary specialization has been created in the BCB degree program to accommodate students who obtain this fellowship.  BCB faculty member, Julie Dickerson, ECPE, is the PI on the grant.  Pat Schnable, Agronomy, Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, GDCB and Theodore Heindel, MechEngr are the Co-PIs.

The website and application for P3 are here:

Plant, Animal and Microbial Genome Research

Iowa State conducts major plant, animal and microbial genome research projects which are recognized internationally. Many BCB faculty are involved with leadership for these projects.  Christopher Tuggle, BCB faculty member in the Animal Science Department, is co-coordinator of the U.S. Swine Genome Coordination Program which helps develop bioinformatics resources to aid researchers around the nation.  He became co-chair of FAANG in 2015, a large consortium on animal functional genomics (see, and recently received a $2.5M USDA-NIFA grant to generate RNA and epigenetics data for adult, fetal and immune cells to improve functional genome annotation in the domestic pig.

Join the Adventure !

Students can participate in research efforts led by world-class faculty who have interdisciplinary research programs funded by grants which totaled nearly half a billion dollars in 2017, including support from the NSF, NIH (National Institutes of Health), USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Students in our program develop an independent approach to their studies through an interdisciplinary curriculum. More than 100 faculty members from 22 academic departments participate in our program. Students have the opportunity to conduct research in all major research areas of computational molecular biology, including genomics, metagenomics, structural genomics, functional genomics, phylogenetics, and computational systems biology, with access to some of the most modern experimental platforms.

Iowa State - promotes the concept of inclusion and participation

Iowa State values an inclusive environment and has an affirmative action statement in place regarding this.