We are always looking for motivated students to join the lab. My interests are rather diverse, thus graduate student projects in my laboratory can potentially span a wide range of topics (please see research description and publications). Students in the lab generally work on questions in behavior and evolutionary ecology, integrating approaches from ecology, behavior, evolution, and physiology; and most projects have a combination of both field and laboratory experiments. At the present, all my students are working with Anolis lizards. However, students are by no means required to work on Anolis.
In my opinion, the ideal student either will work on topics of interest to the lab (e.g., communication, predator-prey interactions, cognition, mate choice, species interactions, physiology), on their organisms of choice or on organisms with which I am very familiar (e.g., Anolis, Sphaerodactylus). I expect my students to be dedicated to their research project. Graduate work is NOT an 8 – 5 job. To be clear about this: the other members of the lab and I will invest our time and energy to help you succeed as a graduate student, therefore my expectation is that you will be committed to perform high quality research (in my experience it extremely difficult to do so when graduate school is approached with a mindset of an 8 – 5 job). If you are not willing to make the compromise to play hard and work even harder, then you should look for another lab. Also, students in my lab are expected to become extremely familiar with the natural history of the organisms that they will work with for their dissertation project. In my opinion, for the fields of behavioral and evolutionary ecology, an understanding of natural history provides the foundation upon which to build the theoretical framework of a research project.
As a mentor, my philosophy is that it is up to students to decide their dissertation projects. I am happy to work with students to help them define and refine their interests, but I do not tell them what to do. I realize that developing a research project can be a daunting task (it was for me when I was a graduate student); however, finding one’s own niche and developing an independent research program are critical aspects of graduate education. I am always happy to provide suggestions and advice, and if needed, to play an active role in the development of research ideas. Whenever possible, I like to collaborate with my students on project(s) of mutual interest, particularly when they are working on subjects near and dear to my heart. Also, my expectation is that you will seek outside funding for your research.
Admission to our Graduate Studies Program in Biological Sciences at MU is very competitive. Many factors are taken into consideration, including research experience, letters of recommendation, undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores. If you are interested in working in my lab, I highly encourage you to contact me as early as possible. Also, you should feel free to contact my graduate students; they can provide valuable information about the lab and the graduate program.