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Joining the Lab

Joining the Lab

Graduate Students

I am fascinated by all things related to the ecology of infectious diseases.  Most of my research concerns the community ecology of zoonotic diseases transferred by the bite of hematophagous arthropods (i.e., disease vectors), but I have enjoyed my forays into parasitology, epidemiology, and conservation biology.  Thus I am happy to mentor students on questions and systems that are divergent from my own research projects – in fact I prefer it.  From an advisor’s perspective, mentoring students is an opportunity for me to explore new areas of research that would remain otherwise inaccessible to me due to constraints of time or inspiration.  Therefore, in selecting students to join my lab, I am less interested in GRE scores and GPAs than I am in knowing that you will broaden my intellectual horizons and afford me the opportunity to learn something new (although we live in a world where GREs and GPAs matter).  If you feel you can offer me the opportunity to learn new things and see the natural world from a different perspective, then my lab may be the right place for you!

If you are interested in applying to my lab, please look through my website carefully and read some of the publications that have resulted from previous projects.  Take some time to think about what type of research you might like to do and what types of questions you’d like to pursue as a graduate student.  There are at least two standard ways to join my lab: as a Master’s or Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology, or as a Master’s or Ph.D. student in the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.  There are also excellent opportunities in my lab for students interested in dual degrees: the M.D./Ph.D. Medical Scholars Program and the D.V.M./Ph.D. Veterinary Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois.

Because I am interested in students who will take my research in new directions, a proven track-record of independent research, particularly in surmounting the many challenges imposed in the pursuit of field biology, will be a critical component of your application to join my lab.  I also expect my students to aggressively pursue funding opportunities: both fellowships, like the NSF GRFP and EPA STAR, and small grants, such as the NSF DDIG, Lewis and Clark Grant, and many other opportunities that are available to fund graduate research.  Pursuing these funding opportunities will be crucial to developing your skills as a grant writer and funding your graduate research.  I also expect students in my lab group to present their research at national and international meetings, publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, and develop the tools they need to be successful in their careers (e.g., statistics, mathematical modeling, GIS and molecular biology).  While I don’t consider mastery of any of these tools a prerequisite to joining my lab, I do expect students to have an open mind to learning these skills and I will do my utmost to assist you in developing into the scientist you wish to become.

If you would like to apply to work with me, please send me an e-mail with a brief description of your research interests, your previous research experiences, and your C.V.  I look forward to hearing from you!