Graduate opportunities in population genetics, phylogenetics, ecology, and evolution

I am searching for talented graduates capable of working independently and collaboratively to join my laboratory in the Quantitative Systems Biology (QSB) and Environmental Systems (ES) graduate groups in the School of Natural Sciences. Students interested in developing aspects of ongoing projects, or bringing their own ideas, by bridging traditional disciplinary boundaries and integrating across the QSB, ES, Applied Mathematics, and Computer and Information Systems graduate groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Availability: I plan to invite one innovative and thoughtful student to join my lab once every 1-2 years. Please send a letter of enquiry to

Funding: I aim to provide two semesters (academic and/or summer) salary for work on or closely related to your area of research as part of the ES/QSB graduate group's guarantee of up to 4 years funding through Graduate Student Research appointment (GSRs), Teaching Assistantships (TAships), and/or fellowships. GSR and TAships provide salary (49% time) depending on experience, plus graduate student registration fees, education fees, and health insurance. GSRs are generally earmarked for the year when preparing for qualifying exams, when time for research development is most valuable, but personal funding least available. TAships can provide additional annual income throughout one's graduate career, and should especially be targeted during the first years when coursework and identifying research interests will be your major personal undertakings. Students who successfully apply for independent salary and research funds, will instead be provided with research supplements for project development. Most students will be funded for exploratory fieldwork in association with ongoing lab projects. In addition, there are multiple opportunities for competitive funding beginning or during your graduate career at UC Merced:
1. Recruitment fellowships from UC Merced for prospective and new students:
2. Continusing fellowships from UC Merced for current students: (scroll down)
I also encourage applications for the US National Science Foundation's beginning GRFP competition and other external grant opportunities.
Please check your eligibility and apply!

Coursework: Required coursework will vary depending on prior education, experience, and intended area of study. Phylogenetics, ecology, statistics, and modelling, as well as attending the School of Natural Sciences' various seminar series, are examples of courses that are likely to be recommended in consultation with each student. An unusual opportunity, being part of the UC system, is that students may also take courses at other UC institutions, such as the nearby Berkeley and Davis campuses which are centers of excellence in Integrative Biology and Ecology & Evolution.

Advising philosophy: My goal is to create a lab environment that imbues scientific rigour and nurtures creativity. I believe this is best achieved by mixing collaboration on lab projects, which provides training in all aspects of science from maintaining a clean lab to co-authoring publications, with support for independent research, which allows individual strengths to flourish and necessitates development of supporting attributes, in a collegial lab of moderate size (e.g. weekly lab discussions with 4-6 graduates, 1-2 postdocs, and myself, plus ad hoc discussions as warranted). The balance of collaboration and independence will vary from person to person and inevitably change with time as graduates progress from being primarily students learning from others, to being educators and researchers learning from others and from oneself.

Ph.D. or M.S.? I prefer to admit students on a Ph.D. track because the quality and extent of learning and research can be much greater given the extra time available. However, Ph.D.s are not the best qualifications for all walks of life (read this before joining graduate school), and some graduates may want to test the water first, so I am happy to discuss options to personalize your education and scientific development toward your career goals. The general topics for Masters and Ph.D. by research would be the same, and both should lead directly to publication in good society or disciplinary journals.

Location: The University of California is creating a dynamic new university campus and campus community in Merced, California. UC Merced opened in August 2004 as the 10th campus of the University of California and the first American research university built in the 21st century. UC Merced is growing rapidly, with a specific emphasis on graduate education. The campus is located in the Central Valley, at the base of Yosemite National Park, only 2-3 hours from sites along the spectacular Pacific coast.

Conditions: Applicants must meet all eligibility criteria as specified by the Graduate Division and relevant graduate program. Applicants with appropriate experience will be particularly strong candidates.

University of California at Merced is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer with a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of diversity among its faculty, staff, and students.

Closing date: The application deadline for the Fall semester is usually the middle of the preceding December.

Questions regarding research opportunities are welcome by email or telephone 209-228-4056 or by mail at the School of Natural Sciences, University of California at Merced, 5200 North Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343, USA. Information about ongoing projects and the lab can be found at Additional information is available online about the School of Natural Sciences (, the University of California at Merced (, and the graduate program (