Information for Prospective Students
Some things my lab can offer you
Graduate programs at UC Davis - Some options
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.
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 15 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
Lawrence, Peter A. 2003
The politics of publication .
Lawrence, Peter A. 2007
The measurement of science.
CURRENT BIOLOGY 17
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 Groups. 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.
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.