Thursday, September 7, 2023
  Around Campus, Announcements

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – SEPT. 7, 2023 – Starting this fall, the UTRGV College of Sciences is home to the newly created School of Integrative Biological and Chemical Sciences.

Dr. Robert Dearth, founding director of the school, said this will combine the former departments of Biology and Chemistry into one new school. 

It will offer flexible degrees designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers or graduate study, including medical school. 

“We wanted to create a school that would benefit our students and faculty, not only in the degrees we’re delivering, but also in the interdisciplinary aspects of both biology and chemistry,” Dearth said. “This new school is also UTRGV’s response to the need to modernize academic units and align them better with modern multidisciplinary training and research trends.”

The complexity of many problems today in the fields of biology and chemistry require combined perspective and knowledge of those two fields to be tackled effectively, Dearth said, so it was important to provide students access to multidisciplinary training that provides the right preparation to make them competitive in the global STEM market.

“Constructing a school that now has all of this under one umbrella will facilitate better collaboration, better communication and transparency among our faculty and other stakeholders within the university and community,” Dearth said.

He said the one thing that will not change because of the reorganization is the student experience. 

“Students won't see anything different. All the degrees are still in place, so we're not changing anything like that,” he said.  

With the reorganization, plans are to develop new integrative degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with an eye to developing the school’s first doctorate. Degree plans in the future will allow students more flexibility to take courses in varying disciplines, like business and technology, which could complement their science degrees. 

“For example, if you study biology, you can take that knowledge and go work for companies around the world that need somebody with a scientific perspective,” Dearth said. “But you also need to obtain skills applicable in other fields, particularly in the global focus on AI. We want to be sure our students are prepared and very competent in that.” 

Efforts will include adding new courses relating to computational skills to help keep up with the constantly evolving demands of STEM fields.  

“We’re extremely excited about what this is going to look like for us and for our students in about a year,” he said. “The goal has always been to think about how our students are better off than they were when they first started with us.” 

Dr. Vivian Incera, dean of the UTRGV College of Sciences, said she is enthusiastic about the creation of the new school and what it will bring. 

“We are excited to create such a new interdisciplinary and forward-looking school under the College of Sciences,” Incera said. “It will allow us to explore the development of new programs and curriculum that will take advantage of the interdisciplinary character of the school and be better aligned with the scientific challenges of the 21st century. 

“Through those unique programs and research training, we will develop the next great minds in the combined fields of biology and chemistry, while preparing students to confidently enter the workforce or continue to graduate school,” she said.

The new school will offer research and training in the areas of Environmental Chemistry, Material Chemistry, Biochemistry, Computational Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Forensics, Organic Chemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Astrobiochemistry, Neurobiology, Genetics, Vector-Borne Diseases, Cancer Biology, Physiology, Endocrinology, Development, Food Safety & Microbiology, and Ornithology.

For more information, contact Dearth at


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.