The Grosberg Lab
College of Biological Sciences
Center for Population Biology
4349 Storer Hall
(530) 752-1114



Information for Prospective Students

Research Areas
Some things my lab can offer you
Graduate programs at UC Davis - Some options
Other practicalities

Many prospective students want to know something about my mentoring philosophy, the structure of my lab group, and the overall goals for my lab. Basically, I value independence and creativity, rigor, a serious work ethic, self-discipline, scholarship, and a well-developed sense of humor in my grad students.

"The main reason I have graduate students is to broaden my own research perspectives, and to keep me on my toes."

The main reason I have graduate students is to broaden my own research perspectives, and to keep me on my toes. To this end, I urge all of my students to develop their own line of research; I have never urged a student to work on one of my research projects (though I would welcome it), and I have never put my name on a student's paper simply because it was based on work done in my lab or supported by my grants. I impose few limitations on projects or taxa, though I prefer that students bring a strong organismal perspective to their research, and that they integrate ecological and evolutionary approaches to the questions they address. I also know most marine invertebrates, especially clonal taxa, and so feel most comfortable giving advice about them. But I welcome the opportunity to learn more about other organisms (except for marine mammals), as long as we can find a co-advisor who has the requisite taxonomic expertise.

Much of what follows builds on my own (great) experience as a graduate student, as well as feedback from current and former grad students and postdocs. In fact, you should visit websites of some of my former grad students (e.g., Mike Hellberg at Louisiana State University) and postdocs (e.g., Emmett Duffy at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences) for their perspectives.


Research Areas:

A quick look through the research projects and interests of my current and former grad students and postdocs highlights the diversity of work that goes on in my lab. The general theme that unifies these projects is that almost all have an organismal bent, and all have an implicitly or explicitly genetic component. Some of the work is microevolutionary, some is macroevolutionary, and much bridges the gap between micro- and macro-evolutionary spatial and temporal scales.

My own work centers on mechanisms influencing the evolution of genetic, ecological, life-history, and behavioral diversity in marine organisms, but - as I said - I am more interested in general questions, rather than specific organisms. True, most folks working in my lab have studied hydroids, sea squirts, bryozoans, scyphozoans, barnacles, anemones, and marine snails; but my students, postdocs, and other collaborators have also worked on ants, vernal pool crustaceans, grasses, and insects.

Some things my lab can offer you:

I try to maintain a balanced population of undergraduate researchers (usually 3-5, but sometimes as many as 7), Ph.D. students (2-4, but there have been more, and lots of students from other labs do molecular work in the Grosberg lab), and postdoctoral fellows (usually2-3, but not so long ago there were 5 Grosdocs). Because of my commitment to nurturing research diversity and fostering independence, the grad students typically work on projects only loosely connected to my own, whereas the undergrads represent a mix of students collaborating with grad students and postdocs, as well as a few involved in their own research projects. The postdocs also reflect a mix of interests and commitments. Usually one of the postdocs is one of my primary collaborators on my own current projects, whereas the others bring their own projects to the lab. The whole enterprise is managed by Brenda Cameron, who has coordinated the show for over 25 years.

The lab consistently has expertise in most facets of marine invertebrate biology, especially ecology and evolution. My own work emphasizes colonial marine invertebrates, and combined with colleagues including Gary Vermeij, Jay Stachowicz, Ted Grosholz, and Steven Morgan, it is easy to get first-hand advice on just about any group.

In terms of facilities and equipment, we have essentially everything you'd need for development and analysis of molecular markers, including a bunch of PCR machines, gel rigs, image analysis systems, computers, and all of that. We share a sequencing facility with several other labs. We have several walk-in incubators with recirculating seawater systems. The lab also has first-rate optical equipment.


Background reading to understand some of my philosophy:

Below are links to several articles by Peter A. Lawrence.

Lawrence, Peter A. 2002
Rank injustice.
NATURE 415:835-836.

Lawrence, Peter A. 2003
The politics of publication .
NATURE 422:259-261.

Lawrence, Peter A. 2007
The measurement of science.


Graduate programs at UC Davis - Some options:

Graduate programs at UC Davis are organized as cross-departmental, interdisciplinary 'groups', rather than being strictly associated with standard departments. This organization makes it easy to build committees that span multiple rsearch areas and labs.

I am a member of three graduate groups. Most of my students are admitted through the Population Biology Graduate Group, although I have supervised students in both the Ecology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group. You can apply to more than one graduate group, however I recommend that you tailor your application to the specific group(s) whose programs most closely correspond to your interests. Contact me for more advice.


Other practicalities:

I aim to provide all of my students with the financial resources and infrastructure they need to get their projects done. In most cases, I have the equipment you will need for your research, or can help you get access to it. In addition to the support offered by the Population Biology Graduate Group (fellowships and teaching assistantships), I may be able to support you as a research associate. My students have been incredibly successful at getting their own research funding, and I will help you in any way I can.


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