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Evolution and Ecology

Angela Kaczmarczyk

Meet Some Recent EEB Majors: Student Testimonials

“After being inspired by my intro to evolution course I sought more EVE courses and changed my major to Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity. The curriculum and faculty in the EVE department were excellent and I found myself surrounded by some of the most brilliant and interesting minds in my days at UC Davis. I got the opportunity to learn first-hand how to do research in Artyom Kopp’s lab where I studied the genetic and cellular basis of reproductive life-history trade-offs. I gained experience in marine ecology research through the EVE courses I took at Bodega Bay. I was also a part of the CLIMB 2008-2009 program, an NSF funded training- program in which I worked with 6 other students develop and apply mathematical models to biological systems. In particular, I became interested in molecular evolution- I took Professor Kopp’s Evolution and Development course, Professor Turelli’s Phylogenetics course, and Professor Langley’s population genetics course. Through my experience as an EEB major, I gained a passion for science and I was able to explore my research interests. I am currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying the genetic basis of head skeletal evolution in three-spine stickleback.”

— Angela Kaczmarczyk

“UC Davis freshmen wonder: “What makes the Department of Evolution and Ecology (EVE) unique amongst the other science departments at UC Davis?” EVE has an appealing academic program (the EEB major), as well as countless hands-on research opportunities. However, the key aspect that makes EVE special is the awesome professors who work there!

Alex Tasoff and his brother

The professors at EVE are possibly the most enthusiastic teachers at UC Davis. These individuals eagerly yearn for a chance to convey their knowledge to others. Furthermore, the EVE professors aim to make class-time both an enjoyable and educational experience for their students. Dr. Shaffer, for example, consistently brought his pets to my classes to illustrate biodiversity and bio-mechanics; furthermore, he took students on overnight field-trips so that they could gain field experience in ecology. The EVE professors also consistently extend a helping hand to their students. Dr. Gaylord and Dr. Sanford, for instance, keenly guided me through my scientific research, and, afterward, served as my advisers at UC Davis. Additionally, Dr. Stachowicz and Dr. Stanton willingly taught me vital lessons in the sciences– lessons that I now use to educate others about marine biology. Since my graduation, I have rarely come across individuals who are analogous to the EVE professors at UC Davis. These individuals are exceptional treasures, and a student who experiences both their knowledge and guidance is very fortunate.”

— Alexander Tasoff

“Choosing EEB (EVE) as my primary major was the most important decision I made as an undergraduate at UC Davis. The interesting and provocative classes helped awaken a passion for studying the natural world, leading me on a career path that I love and am proud of. The professors and advising staff were very accessible and encouraged me to become an active member of the EVE and University community. Jake Theil The major also provided me with pertinent and enjoyable jobs, internships, and study abroad opportunities that played a major role in my successful post graduate life. If it was not for the EVE professors, staff, and experiences, I would not have been able to find a substantial job in research right out of college or gain admission to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.”

— Jake Theil

“I graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) in 2008. When I look back at my time in EEB I recognize that I had multiple unique experiences. One of these experiences was studying at Bodega Bay, where I learned how to think independently and solve problems in a way that I had never been asked to do previously. The EVE faculty were constantly challenging me to go beyond what is possible in a traditional classroom environment. After my time at Bodega I also had the opportunity to further develop my research skills while participating in EVE 180, “Experimental Ecology and Evolution in the Field”. As a part of this course I was able to work with 2 outstanding faculty members as well as 19 other undergraduates to develop and carry out a publishable research project. What I learned as a part of this project went far beyond facts and theories of research– I learned how field research actually works. I also had the opportunity to learn molecular techniques by working in the Strong Lab for 2 years of my undergraduate studies.

Shana Welles

All of the opportunities that I took advantage of in EEB have been invaluable to me since graduating. Directly after graduating, I was hired by a non-profit called the Center for Land-Based Learning where I run education programs for high school students that focus on environmental restoration. This position requires that I be able to problem-solve and think creatively, skills that I was able to learn in the EEB major. In the fall I will be leaving my current position to begin my graduate degree in Plant Biology at the University of California, Riverside, which was my first choice of graduate programs! While I was applying to graduate programs I had the complete support of the EVE faculty. They were constantly available to me for advice, and were excited to write me letters of recommendation. I am confident that in addition to helping me with admission to graduate school, all of the unique experiences that I had in the EEB major have prepared me for success in graduate school and beyond.”

— Shana Welles

Helio Costa

“As an incoming freshman to UC Davis I was excited with the prospect of doing research at a major research institution. With that idea in mind I set out to find a department that had labs where I could get hands on experience helping answer scientific problems. I was attracted to the Evolution and Ecology Department because of the far reaching impact and significance of the research within the department. Halfway through my freshman year I joined the Kopp lab. After some time familiarizing myself with molecular biology and working with graduate students, I had a chance to work on an independent project. Through this work I was able get a better grasp of what was necessary to become a scientist. I also had opportunities to attend several conferences and present my work. These experiences led me to pursue graduate school after graduating from UC Davis. Currently, I am a first year PhD student in the genetics program at Stanford Medical School. I am interested in building upon my experiences doing research at UC Davis to understand organismal phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility.”

— Helio Costa

Christopher Kwan

“Not realizing it at the time, but my decision to attend UC Davis and major in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) became the most important and significant choice of my life. That decision provided me with an incredible undergraduate experience where I learned from many great courses, participated in research dealing with current environmental issues, and communicated with world-renowned researchers in evolution and ecology. The best experience in my undergrad years was the summer I spent taking courses at the Bodega Marine Lab (BML) with Department of Evolution and Ecology (EVE) professors, Drs. Eric Sanford and Brian Gaylord. I received a lot of hands-on lab and field experience along with an opportunity to conduct our own independent research projects. In addition to my academic pursuits as an EEB major, I was the peer advisor for the EVE department for two years. I was fortunate enough to work for great Undergraduate Academic Advisors, Emily Prieto and then Sherri Mann. I learned a lot about administration by helping students gain research experience, along with aiding them in choosing classes for their degree. Upon graduation, I was honored and surprised when the EVE faculty selected me for a Departmental Citation Award.

Christopher Kwan

Through these valuable experiences as an EEB student, I felt prepared and excited for my post-graduate career. Immediately after graduation, I was able to gain a full-time position at the BML with Dr. Jay Stachowicz. Today, as a graduate student studying marine ecology, I owe a lot to the remarkable faculty in the Evolution and Ecology Department. More specifically, the greatest influences for me were Dr. Susan Keen for initiating my passion in marine life, and Dr. Eric Sanford for his mentorship and opportunities working in his lab. I enjoyed my undergrad experience so much, I chose the San Diego State University/UC Davis Joint Doctoral program in Ecology to maintain my relationship with the EVE department. This allows me to broaden my network with researchers at SDSU, but also continue working with people at UC Davis and be a part of one of the best Evolution/Ecology graduate programs in the U.S.”

— Christopher Kwan