The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences is one of the largest departments in the UK devoted to the study of whole organism biology, and forms one of three parts of the School of Biological Sciences, together with the Department of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, with a combined academic staff of over 100. The School is recognized as one of the leading centres for biological teaching and research in the UK. All three Departments' teaching was rated 24/24 in the most recent (1999) Teaching Quality Assessment and their research was rated 5* (the top category) in the last (2001) Research Assessment Exercise. The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences has newly refurbished laboratories from a recent £10.5 million investment programme.
The Department has a very strong research reputation, with a highly research active staff, over 60 PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, and excellent research facilities. The Department publishes more than 140 research papers per annum, and Departmental staff edit, or are on the editorial boards of, 37 international research journals. Research activities are broadly divided into three research groupings: Evolution and Behaviour, Environment and Biodiversity, Molecular and Ecological Physiology.
Research facilities range from experimental gardens and greenhouses, through to controlled environment growth chambers, artificial stream systems, and laboratories for handling genetically modified organisms. There are also facilities for keeping insects and birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates. The NERC-funded Sheffield Molecular Genetics Facility provides state-of-the-art methods for genotyping and DNA sequencing, and there is a wide range of equipment for both elemental and biomolecular analysis. Within the Department there are systems for image processing, and the University network provides access to a range of other computing resources, including data analysis software, Geographical Information Systems, and electronically published journals.