University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Illinois Sesquicentennial College of ACES
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Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology

Learn how basic science, particularly molecular biology and genetics, is advancing plant improvement, research and development.

  • Similar to the Biological Sciences concentration, PBMB focuses on plant biology with greater emphasis on biotechnology, genetics, and plant sciences at a molecular level.
  • Students are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research projects or independent study alongside faculty members to gain research experience.
  • Prepares students for plant biotechnology careers such as research technicians in agribusiness, university and government laboratories.
  • Graduates from this concentration pursue advanced degrees in molecular biology, plant breeding, dentistry, medicine and human genetics.
See current requirements

Questions about this concentration can be directed to

Dr. Fred Kolb
Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator
AE-120 B Turner Hall
(217) 333-4256

Career Opportunity Spotlight

Global Plant Breeding Consultant

David Mies

Crop Sciences alum David Mies had worked for 4 years in soybean breeding for FS and then 35 years as a corn breeder with Syngenta. While working for Syngenta, he had worked for seven years in China and two more years in a global position. After retiring in 2013, David has been working as a Plant Breeding Consultant globally.

 He is passionate about plant genetics and breeding, but is even more passionate about learning. Even after “retiring”, he continues reading and studying to learn more in this rapidly changing field.

“In 2014, I was consulting with Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture on Maize Lethal Necrosis in Kenya.  MLN is a very serious virus disease problem currently devastating corn production in over 8 countries in eastern Africa. I worked with the CIMMYT maize program to review their processes of developing resistant hybrids.  In 2015, I worked on a consulting contract with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reviewing seven international breeding programs in Africa to evaluate their effectiveness and improve their productivity.  It was an extraordinary opportunity to observe crop production in five very different countries and learn about Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Dry Beans, and Groundnuts (aka peanuts).”

Through the American Society of Agronomy, David mentors students interested in working in science.

“In 2014, I was a mentor for a Chinese undergraduate student at Cornell University. She was interested in going to graduate school in plant breeding, so I helped her explore options and organize what she needed to do to get where she wanted to be.”

 David continues to mentor crop sciences students across the United States and helps them “think outside the box.” He also works closely with the Champaign County Farm Bureau to help those not familiar with agriculture learn about production systems used by US farmers today. In addition to international visitors, many local residents and even some agriculture students can learn much by visiting farms.

CPSC Opportunities

Imagine where ACES can take you!