Prospective graduate students and postdocs in particular should also take a look at the interview I did to get a feel for who I am as a scientist and mentor. Additionally, check out some compiled guidance & resources for students considering graduate school:
Graduate Students – I accept graduate students through the following programs at UMass Amherst:
- MS, PhD – Graduate Program in Environmental Conservation
(Deadline: Feb 1)
- PhD – Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program (Deadline: Dec 1)
- MS, PhD, PSM* – UMass Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program (Deadline: Dec 15) *PSM: Professional Science Masters
These different programs offer diverse opportunities for graduate student research at UMass. Prospective students should read the background information linked above, and we then can discuss the best program fit based on interests and career objectives.
Postdoctoral Fellows – I mentor postdoctoral researchers with shared or complementary research interests within the lab or in collaboration with partner faculty, conservation, and management agencies. When I have opportunities for postdocs to join specific projects with funding support I post them to this webpage (see our News! page), however I am always keen to speak with prospective fellows about opportunities to seek support together via internal or external funding sources.
Postdocs should consider applying for a Darwin Fellowship through the UMass Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program, a two-year research and lecture fellowship (Deadline: Dec 15). Additional opportunities for post-doctoral funding can also be found here.
Undergraduates – We often have opportunities for motivated undergraduate students interested in molecular ecology & conservation to assist with projects in the field, at the bench, and with bioinformatics/data analysis. Opportunities for work-study or independent research/thesis projects most often develop after students have worked in the lab for at least a semester, as this allows students time to gain skills and to determine if it is a good fit.
Interns & Technicians – Do you like pipetting, data analysis or working with marine/freshwater critters?? We sometimes have research opportunities for project interns and technicians that may be a good fit for high school or B.S. graduates looking to diversify their skills and facilitate next career steps.
Lab Philosophy & Expectations
Choosing a graduate advisor or mentor can be challenging and there is no one ‘right’ answer. However, taking time to think about what types of science excite you and in what work environments you thrive in can go a long way in finding a great match (read more about this here and here).
So, after looking through our publications and ongoing research topics and thinking “this is awesome!”, you are wondering if our lab will be be a good fit for you? Here are a few things to know to help you decide:
- I believe that we do stronger, more innovative science when we work together rather than in isolation. I seek lab members who embrace a similar collaborative philosophy in their work both within the lab and across disciplines with other UMass faculty or external institutions.
- I expect lab members to be active members of our lab, the Department of ECo and UMass community to cultivate a vibrant and fun intellectual and working environment. However, I recognize that imposing strict commitment requirements limits capacity for inclusion in science. Lab members are encouraged to work with me and their colleagues to find the best ways to contribute based on their interests, talents, and personal commitments (e.g., trading skills/time with labmates, developing new lab protocols or data analysis scripts, or leading lab outreach or social media engagements).
- As a mentor and scientist, I strive to be an open and clear communicator about goals, expectations and challenges. Lab members are encouraged to talk openly and exchange constructive feedback so we can all improve as scientists and enjoy our work.
- Science communication is a critical component of what we do, not an afterthought. We are a conservation lab…if our research is not communicated effectively to the public as well as managers and stakeholders that need it to make important decisions, we have failed. It’s also hard. Investing in training, practicing, and balancing outreach with research is supported and expected of lab members.
- I expect lab members to be motivated and work independently while periodically meeting with me for feedback and guidance. This is an evolving process- new lab members meet with me more frequently as they hone skills and ideas, gain confidence, and take on more responsibilities and projects. This is also different for MS vs. PhD students, the latter of whom develop their research more independently. I work hard to make myself available to support lab members at all stages in their research as well as broader professional development.
- Science is strengthened with a diversity of human perspectives and learning styles. Our lab is committed to fostering an inclusive learning environment where people of all ethnicities, sexual orientation, genders and gender identities, religions, socio-economic status, and disabilities are comfortable and can grow and thrive as scientists. I also work to find pathways to success for students that need accommodations to fulfill other obligations (e.g., child care).
Think we’re a good fit?
Prospective graduate candidates please send me an email to introduce yourself, and include the following information: (1) a short description of how our research interests overlap, (2) current CV, and (3) motivation to pursue a graduate degree (please include your last name in the title of any attachments).
A few final thoughts for prospective graduate students: Applying to graduate school is a challenging process, in part because it’s hard to get to know people by email or phone. Contacting potential advisors and clearly conveying your interests are critical aspects of the process. Though your graduate research will likely be different (and in some cases totally different) than the research interests you express during the application process, it is extremely important that you show that you can articulate and formulate research ideas and concepts. Giving a general statement that you are interested in molecular ecology or conservation (while commendable) doesn’t advance that process for us to know if we are a good fit. Don’t be shy about showing your passion, but try to articulate what interests you about the field(s) in particular. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the process of identifying a research area of interest and potential ways of tackling that research topic.
**UMass Amherst and Five Colleges undergraduates interested in working with our research group for independent research credit should email me with (1) a CV and/or brief description of interests and relevant background experience (e.g., working in a molecular laboratory, conducting field sampling, etc.), and (2) estimated time commitment capacity during the semester. Although specific availability or skills are not a requirement (we want everyone to participate in science!), this information will help identify what opportunities may be a good match.**