Joining the lab


Before contacting me, it’s important to ask yourself whether you will likely be a good fit for our lab.

Some key characteristics that I look for in graduate students are:

  • Strong written and oral communiation skills (I recommend that students take at least one scientific writing class before starting graduate school, if possible)
  • Strong quantitative skills, e.g., the ability/willingness to think mathematically and program in R (preferably) or Matlab
  • A strong sense of self-sufficiency, innate motivation and willingness to work hard to excel
  • An ability to think outside the box, e.g., to come up with novel questions, tackle problems in novel ways, etc.
  • A willingness to sometimes venture outside of their comfort zone (safely!) to get the job done – whether that be in doing field work, learning a new programming language, in engaging public speaking, and so on
  • Integrity, passion, kindness and humour: I aim to fill our lab with quality human beings who get along well with others

Once in the lab, I expect that students will read broadly in the current literature; attend, engage, and present at lab meetings, seminars & scientific meetings; and devote themselves to learning the scientific techniques and analyses that are required to conduct and publish a high-quality scientific study. I also expect my students to be good colleagues to others in the lab by helping to maintain lab morale, lab organization and cleanliness, and to contribute to the projects of lab mates in the same way that they will help others.


Students in my lab may be funded in a variety of ways, including from their own grants/fellowships (see examples below), university fellowships, teaching assistantships, and my research grants. I expect that any student applying to work in my lab will also plan to apply for nationally competitive graduate fellowships such as the NSF GRFP, NDSEG, EPA STAR, NOAA Nancy Foster, and NOAA/SG Population Dynamics that would enable them to be self-supported during at least part of graduate school. A good list of possible funding sources is maintained by the Baskett Lab at UC-Davis. In addition to being potential funding sources, these applications offer students the opportunity to hone potential research ideas, ensure applications to the UH graduate program are clear and concise, and demonstrate a true interest in joining the lab.


If, after reading and considering the information above, you believe you are a) a good fit for my lab and vice-versa and b) a strong candidate for acceptance into the graduate program, feel free to email me ( to introduce yourself. In your email, please include:

  • A written statement (~1 page) that details a) your research experience and interests/ideas, b) your idealized goal after completing a graduate degree, and c) why you want to work in my lab;
  • A CV (including unofficial GPA and unofficial GRE scores); and
  • Names and contact information of three references.

Please note that at present, I am only able to accept graduate students that come with their own funding (e.g., such as one of the nationally competitive graduate fellowships listed above). For candidates whose interests, skills, and background are a very good fit with the lab, I may be able to work with you to help you prepare one or more of these fellowship applications. In general, I suggest getting in touch in ~Aug/Sept/Oct for entry into grad school the following year, however you may contact me at any time of year.

If you have already been awarded a nationally competitive award graduate fellowship, the UH Biology Department has a process to consider accepting funded students, so you can contact me to see if there is space in the lab for you to join.