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The Department of BCMB offers a variety of support opportunities for both incoming and current graduate students:

For Incoming Graduate Students

Teaching Assistantships

The general policy of the BCMB department is to provide a stipend for all students accepted into the graduate program. For the first year, students are typically supported on graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs), although there are some special opportunities as described in the sections below for fellowship support. The GTA stipend is $20,000/year paid in twelve monthly installments. A tuition waiver is also included. In order for an international student to work as a GTA, the OPIc test must be passed with an AH (Advanced High) or higher, for more information go to Students who are supported as GTAs are expected to devote roughly twenty hours per week to their duties as teaching assistants. Teaching assignments vary, including working as assistants in undergraduate laboratories or running discussion sections for undergraduate lecture courses in biology.

» Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Education (CIRE)

CIRE was founded in 2010 with the goal of fostering interdisciplinary research and graduate study in focused areas of science and engineering. CIRE is the home for two programs, the Distinguished Graduate Fellowship and the program for Energy Science and Engineering.

» UT/ORNL Distinguished Fellowship Program

If you have a particular interest in working jointly with ORNL faculty on projects in the areas of computational biology, materials science, or neutron science, check out the UT/ORNL Distinguished Fellowship Program. These fellowships carry a $30,000 stipend. The application deadline is January 30.

» Energy Science and Engineering Program (ESE):

CIRE has developed one of the first interdisciplinary PhD programs in energy science and engineering. Students who are pursuing a PhD in other areas (such as a BCMB degree) may pursue a concentration in ESE.
Details about both the DGF and ESE programs.

» Genome Science and Technology

The Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology (GST) is a life science graduate program founded on two premises. First, whole-genome sequences and related large-scale datasets have transformed how we perform biological research; a trend that is gathering momentum and is anticipated to frame the way the biological research is accomplished for many years to come. Second, advances in technology, whether at the level of instrumentation, computation, or “wet lab” reagents, have long been a powerful driving force in biology. The GST program is home to faculty mentors from many walks of life.


Fellowship Opportunities from the UT Graduate School

UT also funds several scholarships for graduate students. For further information, visit the Graduate School.


Traineeships from Federal Agencies

» NIH Predoctoral Traineeships: PEER

UT now offers graduate fellowships through an NIH-funded program called Program for Excellence and Equity in Research (PEER). Professor Sekeenia Haynes is the PEER program manager. This traineeship is an opportunity for students from underrepresented minorities in science to have special support. Minorities include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and women who have not been well represented in graduate education in some of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Individuals with disabilities and those coming from low income situations also  qualify.  The fellowships include a $25,000 stipend and full tuition. Visit the PEER website for more information.

Please Note: The PEER and UT/ORNL Distinguished Fellowships are NOT a substitute for your program of study in BCMB, but rather a complement to it that should provide additional opportunities for specialization and professional development. All require a separate application in addition to what you have submitted to our department.

If you are interested in any of these fellowship programs, or want more information, contact Gladys Alexandre , program director or Sekeenia Haynes, PEER program manager.

For Current Graduate Students

More advanced graduate students may be supported as GTAs through CIRE or other federally funded programs, as described in the financial support for incoming students. In addition, there are several other options for support through BCMB and beyond. These include the following programs.

Graduate Research Assistantships

GRAs are provided from faculty research grants to support student research in the mentor’s laboratory. The minimum level of support is equivalent to the stipend for a GTA in BCMB, although some faculty choose to give stipend support at a higher pay rate. It is anticipated that most students will be supported by this mechanism after the first one to two years in graduate school.

Graduate Assistanships from NIMBioS

Advanced students with expertise in computational and/or mathematical biology may apply for year-long assistantships from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). The stipend support is $20,000/year, with a total of five assistantships per year awarded. Students supported on a NIMBioS assistantship will be responsible for assisting with NIMBioS activities to qualify for the assistantship.
Application details


Fellowships from the Division of Biology

» The Alexander Hollaender Graduate Fellowship

The Alexander Hollaender Graduate Fellowship is made possible through an endowment fund contributed by Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Hollaender. In 1944, Dr. Hollaender established the Division of Biology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was its director until 1967. Hollaender had close ties to East Tennessee and expressed the wish that strong preference in awarding fellowships be given to students from this region. The Fellowship Committee will consider academic qualifications, geographical origin, and scientific/professional promise.

The Fellowship award of $6,000 will be awarded to one individual for one academic year.

» Science Alliance Awards and Cokkinias Graduate Fellowship

The Division of Biology will again sponsor awards to its graduate students based on their record of scholarly achievements at the University of Tennessee. The awards are in the amount of $1,000–$3,000 each (less taxes). In addition to the monetary award, recipients have their names recorded on the plaque displaying each year’s awardees.


Graduate School Fellowship Opportunities

UT also funds several scholarships for graduate students. For further information, visit the Graduate School online.


External Fellowship Funding for Graduate Students

Information about a variety of external fellowship funding for graduate studies is also available by contacting the BCMB department, the Office of Research and Engagement, and the Graduate School. Lists of fellowships are generally updated on a yearly basis. Much of this information is available from the larger scientific community through bulletin boards and web sites for professional societies such as the American Society for Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (ASBMB).

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