I take on graduate students whose research interests are a good fit with my research/outreach program. I am especially interested in students with a strong blend of quantitative, field, and writing abilities, along with good people skills. My lab group is relatively small, which provides me with time to give each student attention when it comes to project planning, site visits, and preparation of scholarship and grant applications, presentations, and manuscripts. I work frequently on applied research projects with off-campus collaborators such as non-governmental organizations, non-profits, agency staff, and county-based extension advisors. My students often have the opportunity to collaborate with these groups, gaining practical experience and future job contacts.
If you decide to contact me about graduate school please take a look at some of my recent publications and research projects first and let me know how your research interests and experience match up. Please provide a resume, statement of research interests, and your GPA and GRE scores.
The application deadline generally falls in December each year, for admission in September/October the following year. Please plan to contact me as early as possible, as this gives us more time to consider projects and funding. If at all possible, plan to visit the campus well before the application deadline so that you can meet me and some of my students and staff and decide whether the lab is a good fit.
Is Graduate School Right for You?
If you have (or will soon have) a B.S. degree and are considering graduate school, working for a few years as a research assistant can be a good transition. It can help you to gain relevant research experience, focus your research interests, and make contacts in academia, all of which can strengthen your applications to graduate schools. If you decide that graduate school is not for you, you will still gain excellent experience that can help you to attain a permanent position (e.g., in an agency, consulting firm, non-profit, etc.). I often take on recent graduates as Junior Specialists, who work for up to 2 years as research assistants on one or more projects. If you are interested in a position please contact me via email with a brief statement of your experience and interests, along with an up-to-date copy of your resume.
Application Process for Graduate School
At UC Davis, graduate student applicants must be accepted into the graduate group of which their major professor is a member. I'm a member of the Graduate Group in Ecology. Please check the GGE web site which has excellent information on how to apply, which professors are accepting students, and what your course of studies might look like (e.g., potential Areas Of Emphasis). http://www.ecology.ucdavis.edu/ The survival guide is also a useful summary of a lot of information http://ecology.ucdavis.edu/egsa/survivalguide.html.
The GGE ranking and admission criteria vary from year to year, but typically students need an undergrad GPA of 3.25 or better, above 50% V, and above 70% Q GREs to be reviewed for admission. Generally applicants with grades below this are denied admission without any additional review of the application. Applicants that meet the cutoff are reviewed and ranked by groups of faculty and graduate student reviewers. Depending on the ranking and the number of spaces available, admission may be denied or the candidate may move on to the next step, which is identification of a major professor and determination of availability of funding (fellowships, university grants, or funding from the major professor's grants). Typically about 50 out of 200-300 applicants to the GGE are admitted. Admissions decisions are made in January/February, with announcements generally going out in March.
Typically I prefer to take on a new student when I have the student’s funding covered for a few years, or when the student already has a scholarship or appears very likely to obtain one. If you are fully supported as a GSR (graduate student researcher) the grant will cover student salary (~$20,000/year), in-state fees (~$15,000/year), plus research costs (equipment, supplies, travel, tech support). This assumes that you work half-time on the grant project for fall, winter and spring quarters, and full-time in summer. Partial funding may be available from working as a teaching assistant (TA). If you TA, your in-state fees are waived during the academic quarters in which you TA.
Applicants with a high ranking will also be eligible for UCD fellowships or grants (usually this is the top 10-20 students out of about 300 that apply) which typically cover several quarters of support each year. Coming in with an NSF or other external fellowship helps a lot with admission.
If you think you may be able to be self-funded, I would be interested in where the funding is coming from, whether it is pending or assured, and whether it would cover all or part of student salary, in-state fees, and research costs.
It helps to have a major professor lined up before the application deadline, but because professors don't always know for sure about funding it is possible for students to be accepted and then get linked up with a supervisor.
In addition to the regular student fees, non-resident students (either from outside California or outside the United States) must also pay non-resident tuition (NRT) of approximately $15,000 USD per school year, until they establish residency, or in the case of non-resident Ph.D. students, advance to candidacy (pass Qualifying Exam, typically after 2 years of study). The Graduate Group in Ecology may cover the NRT of very high ranking applicants for their first year. The NRT may be waived for students who are awarded an outside fellowship (e.g., an NSF graduate fellowship).