For Prospective Graduate Students
Admission to the Field of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
(EEB) is a two-pronged process, in that an applicant must (1)
have an identified major professor willing to the sponsor them
and (2) be among those accepted by the EEB admission committee.
Because we guarantee five years of financial support (including
summers!), EEB typically admits only about a dozen new students
each year from among more than 100 applicants. It follows that
individual professors usually take on at most one new graduate
student each year, and that many highly qualified applicants are
not admitted for lack of space. Those things said, our program
offers outstanding opportunities for doctoral work; the faculty
is diverse and supportive of our outstanding graduate students,
library and research facilities are excellent, and Ithaca winters
are conducive to scholarly contemplation. I encourage applications
from those who feel their interests are compatible with mine (for
details see links to my CV, Publications,
and Research Interests).
With respect to the professor-graduate student relationship, I do not run a tightly focused, hypothesis-driven research program in which my graduate students must participate. I much prefer to gather my own field and museum data, and my interests are rather broad; this approach is not consistently attractive to major funding agencies, and my studies have been supported mainly by small grants, institutional funds, teaching awards, and honoraria. Students therefore conduct dissertation research that is independent of mine, and they generally must seek outside funding for that work. Animal care facilities, computers, a dissecting scope with video image capture accessories, radiotelemetry setups, and other equipment are available for my students' use, and I often collaborate with them on one or more publishable side projects of mutual interest (these joint projects are usually dependent on student initiative).
It's worth emphasizing that my recent forays into molecular systematics have been with coauthors who have done the sequencing. I don't have a molecular lab or funds to support major projects in that area, although there are other faculty in EEB (e.g., R. G. Harrison, K. R. Zamudio) who are fully equipped for such studies and with whom I might co-sponsor students. The Evolutionary Genetics Core Facility, including an automatic sequencer and training program, is available for use by all faculty and students of EEB on a recharge basis.
In terms of mentoring, I view myself as a sort of hybrid between coach and advisor. I'm rather disorganized; I'm devoted to my own research, undergraduate teaching, and environmental education as well as supervising graduate students, and thus often distracted and over committed. I'm better at giving praise and encouragement than at "hands on" management; I much prefer discussing ideas, urging students to try new approachs, and sticking up for them rather than at actively keeping them on schedule, insisting that they pursue a particular course of action, and so forth. I stress that during graduate school students should accomplish those things that will be expected later in their chosen careers. For those pursuing academic jobs, this means good teaching, applying for grants, presentation of research at national meetings, prompt submission of finished work for publication, and a desire to achieve high quality scholarship.
A brief description of my former and current graduate students is provided below. Collectively they have published many dozens of papers, presented countless outstanding talks and seminars, garnered a number of NSF Fellowships and Dissertation Improvement Grants, won awards for teaching and research, and taught me a great deal.
1. Judy A. Gradwohl, M.S. 1981 (thesis title: Search Behavior of the Checker-throated Antwren Foraging in Aerial Leaf Litter), now a Special Exhibits Curator at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
2. Fabian M. Jaksic, Ph.D. 1982 (co-sponsored with Robert K. Colwell, dissertation title: Predation Upon Vertebrates in Mediterranean Habitats of Chile, Spain, and California: a Comparative Analysis), now a Professor at the Catholic University of Chile,Santiago, Chile.
3. Robert M. Seib, Ph.D. 1985 (dissertation title: Feeding Ecology and Organization of Neotropical Snake Faunas), now a police officer, Berkeley, CA.
4. John H. Carothers, Ph.D. 1987 (dissertation title: Aspects of the Ecology of Lizards of the Genus Liolaemus in the Central Chilean Cordillera), now a Professor at Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA.
5. Jonathan B. Losos, Ph.D. 1989 (dissertation title: Ecomorphological Adaptation in the Genus Anolis), now an Associate Professor at Washington University, St. Louis, MO.
6. Joanne M. Pedersen, Ph.D. 1990 (co-sponsored with Stephen E. Glickman, dissertation title: Chemosensory Investigatory Behavior in the Desert Iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis), now a Lecturer at California State University, San Marcos, CA.
7. Christopher J. Schneider, Ph.D. 1993 (co-sponsored with David B. Wake, dissertation title: Diversification in Lizards of the Genus Anolis from Guadeloupe and the Northern Lesser Antilles), now an Assistant Professor at Boston University, Boston, MA.
8. Wendy E. Roberts, Ph.D. 1994 (dissertation title: Evolution and Ecology of Arboreal Egg-laying Frogs), now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mountain Research Center, Bozeman, MT.
9. Kellar Autumn, Ph.D. 1995 (co-sponsored with Robert J. Full, dissertation title: Performance at Low Temperature and the Evolution of Nocturnality in Lizards), now an Assistant Professor at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR.
10. Devin A. Reese, Ph.D. 1996 (dissertation title: Comparative Demography and Habitat Use of Western Pond Turtles in Northern California: the Effects of Damming and Related Alterations), now an American Association for the Advancement of Science Postdoctoral Fellow at the U. S. Department of State and based in Panama.
11. Christopher J. Bell, Ph.D. 1997 (co-sponsored with Anthony J. Barnosky, dissertation title: A Revision of North American Irvingtonian (Early and Middle Pleistocene) Microtine Rodent Biochronology), now an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, TX.
12. Javier A. Rodríguez-Robles, Ph.D. 1998 (dissertation title: Molecular Systematics and Foraging Ecology of Lampropeltine Snakes), now an NSF postdoctoral fellow in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley.
13. Demetri H. Theodoratus, M. S. 1998 (thesis title: Studies on the Foraging Ecology of Crotaline Snakes), now a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Arlington, TX.
14. Miyoko Coco Chu, Ph.D. 1999 (co-sponsored with Walter D. Koenig, dissertation title: Ecology and Breeding Biology of Phaenopeplas (Phaenopepla nitens) in the Deserts and Coastal Woodlands of Southern California), now a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution.
15. Randall S. Reiserer, now a finishing Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley (dissertation title: Life History Evolution in Vipers).
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