Relevant Degree Programs
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Requirements" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to peek someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
1. How do species interactions mediate adaptation to new environments?
Global climate change is resulting in increases in mean and variation in temperature. Concurrently, organisms are experiencing novel environments via land-use change and eutrophication. Can organisms adapt fast enough to respond to these changing environments? Ongoing projects: How do species interactions such as predator-prey, host-parasite, and competitors, alter short- and long-term adaptation to new environments? What happens to consumer-resource dynamics when the resource adapts to environmental change faster than the consumer does?
2. Evolution of thermal reaction norms and thermal performance curves
Temperature is a key abiotic factor that regulates individual metabolism, population dynamics, and community structure. Our research investigates phenotypic plasticity in response to temperature change and how quickly this plasticity evolves. An organism's 'fitness' across a range of temperatures is known as the thermal performance curve (TPC). Importantly, TPCs are often incorporated into models that predict species range limits or population responses to climate warming, and a common assumption of these models is that TPCs do not evolve. We're interested in how quickly, an in what way TPCs evolve in nature.
3. Cascading effects of temperature adaptation through aquatic food webs
We are very interested in the phenomenon that algae/phytoplankton grown at cooler temperatures produce more healthy omega-3 long-chain unsaturated fatty acids. Our recent work has shown that zooplankton show higher population growth and accelerated thermal evolution when they are fed these high-quality cold-adapted phytoplankton. We are ramping up our algae-temperature work to better understand the trophic consequences of algal thermal adaptation.
4. Body size, body size, body size (and cell size)
Body size is arguably the single most important ecological trait. Given the importance of body size you'd think that natural selection would have settled on one perfect body size. Curiously, body size varies a lot! But why? How important are biotic vs abiotic factors in shaping organism body size? How quickly does body size evolve? Can we look back in time to figure out key environmental factors that have shaped long-term trends in body size? Ongoing projects: Using natural history collections, how has insect body size changed over time? How important is changing climate for shaping variation in insect body size?