Graduate Study

I am interested in mentoring students looking for a Master's project conducting ecological research. I am seeking curious, hard-working and quantiatively oriented students. You should be interested in fieldwork-based approaches to questions in ecosystem, community and pouplation ecology. I am best suited to advise students whose work falls within my interests, including ants, litter arthropods, tropical rainforests, life history ecology and community structure. If you're interested, please send me an email with the following:

  1. A brief statement of interests (1-3 paragraphs)
  2. An unofficial transcript (or a list of courses and grades)
  3. Two academic references (email and phone numbers)


Research opportunities for undergraduates

I am always interested in providing resarch opportunities to interested and qualified undergraduates. Those interested in insect biodiversity, ecology, ecosystem processes, tropical rainforests or social insect behavior, you might fit be interested in working in this lab. Check out the current projects and publications on this website and let me know if they are of interest. There are opportunities to conduct fieldwork in tropical rainforests, though much research also happens at home, working with specimens and data.

There are many ways and avenues to conduct research. Described below are many opportunities that can provide the mentorship and money required for successful research. There are also lots of other avenues available to you. Here are some large-scale programs for research opportunities:

Research Experiences for Undergraduates
The National Science Foundation sponsors scores of REU programs throughout the US, to facilitate undergraduate participation in research by providing mentorship, stipends, supplies and travel costs. All REU programs accept students from outside their home institution, so it is possible to do an REU almost anywhere. Deadlines are typically near in January and February for the summer of the same year, though they vary from site to site.
International Research Experiences for Students
The National Science Foundation has recently crated an REU-like program for international research, IRES. These are typically more specialized than REU programs and vary among institutions. I operate an IRES program, the Tropical Ecology Mentorship Program. This program is a year-round research mentorship oriented around a summer field season at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica
Organization for Tropical Studies Research Experiences
Students from around the country can apply for an several opportunities in Costa Rica through the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of universities from around the world.
Ronald McNair scholars
CSUDH and other institutions award a number of McNair scholarships to students from groups underrepresented in the sciences, including some ethnic groups and and federally-qualification as low-income status. McNair scholars receive a summer research stipend and many other resource to support eventual enrollment into a doctoral program. If you're a minority student and plan on going to grad school, this is a great program to seek out because it might provide a fellowship all the way through grad school, depending on where you go.
Summer courses at field stations
Many field stations, in the US and abroad, operate courses for field biology oriented students to develop natural history talents and learn about conducting research. These are great opportunities because you get academic credit, live in biologically remarkable places, work with great field biologists, and work alongside students with equally great interest in field biology. Some places well known for cool summer courses include Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, Southwestern Research Station, University of Colorado Mountain Research Station, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Kellogg Biological Station, and the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. A full list of field stations, many of which offer summer courses, is available at the Organization for Biological Field Stations. Many of these places offer financial assistance for those already on financial aid.

Undergraduate research FAQ

Why should you do research?
It's fun, you learn more about how science is done. If you are thinking about grad school, you definitely need to do research. If you don't like research in college, then you'll really hate it in grad school. Doing research will help figure out your interests and give you direction.
What qualifications do I need to do research?
You don't necessarily need a set of specialized skills to start research. You need to be fascinated by the topic and many tasks can be learned through practice. Most faculty require a certain level of time commitment so that the effort put into training does not disappear immediately. In my lab, if you're doing any serious work you will eventually need to take biostatistics - otherwise there will be a ceiling on your independence.
What could I do for research?
During the academic year, there are many opportunities to conduct research in the lab. Once student researchers are comfortable with the ideas and techniques used to study these animals, some continue to create projects of their own. While the concept of discovering your own research project sounds obscure at the moment, in the midst of one project, new and exciting ideas should occur to you. Undergraduates should not be resigned to the role of research assistant. You really can do as much as your initiative drives you.
Can I get paid or receive credit for research?