All undergraduates in our lab are generally paid at the same hourly rate as in the UBRP program. Undergraduates are normally accepted into our group only if they have at least some computer programming experience, but feel free to contact us for advice while you go about getting such experience through a basic programming class. Undergraduates must be willing to commit (conditional on things going well) to a minimum of 9 hours per week and a full year including a summer: a larger commitment is preferred. If you meet these requirements, please email me with a description of your interests and goals, the level of commitment you can make, the nature of your prior training in programming and in math, and an unofficial transcript showing what grades you got in which courses. If you meet the criteria and we have a position available, the next step will be a rigorous interview where we explain the project and its background to you, and watch how you solve problems. We encourage undergraduates to pursue partial funding through the UBRP and/or Space Grant programs.
We are currently recruiting Ph.D. students interested in any of our current areas of research, as well as Ph.D. students whose own independent interests match well with the culture of the group. We typically do not accept Masters students except under the Accelerated Masters program as an extension of undergraduate research.
Some research areas that interest me right now (not all of which I will have funding for) are
protein evolution, including
astrobiology questions about the very earliest protein-based life
detecting selection on intrinsically disordered proteins that have little sequence conservation
evolution of protein interface networks
the consequences of extremely high (human-like) deleterious mutation rates, including for
what "fitness" even means in the face of complex life cycles and density-dependence
the evolution of rates of error in molecular processes (e.g. transcription, translation, the various kinds of somatically inherited damage that accumulate during aging to cause senescence and cancer)
the evolution of dormancy
the dynamics of host-parasite arms races where an asexual parasite's rate of adaptation is derived from population genetic considerations and may not entirely swamp that of a much more sexual host
pandemic preparedness and the benefits of non-pharmaceutical interventions against the spread of infectious disease (for individuals vs. populations vs. subpopulations)
Other projects are also possible.
If you think there is a match, please send me a personal email that clearly expresses where you think the match is. In other words, try to personalize your email more than merely substituting a few key terms into an otherwise standard letter. Describe what you are looking for in a Ph.D. topic in whatever terms best work for you - for some people it might be based on topic, for others approach (e.g. math vs. computation vs. data analysis), for others some other higher level criterion best expressed by non-exclusive example. Attach whatever application materials you have, which might just be an unofficial transcript showing what courses you have taken and what grades you got in them. You will eventually also need 3 reference letters (typically from research advisor(s) and/or instructors who got to know you), a c.v., and a personal statement. Here is an example of a well-written personal statement from someone accepted into the lab - notice that they have research experience but not publishable results.
If I see a possible match from your email, we will set up one or more zoom calls. We might have separate calls for different purposes: exploring whether there is a match of research interests is quite distinct from you interviewing me about my mentoring style, and also different from me interviewing you to judge whether I will sponsor your application. Interviews are intended to assess your aptitude. E.g., based on your background, I will choose subject areas that I can expect you to be familiar with, and ask questions to test your retention of knowledge in those areas, but I will not expect knowledge in areas that you have not previously studied. In the interests of non-discrimination, I do not look for "cultural fit" - what matters is whether I think you will do well in Ph.D. research, in an area in which my mentorship makes sense. Our lab welcomes all kinds of diversity, including neurodiversity.
I recommend soliciting my sponsorship prior to formally applying, but I will also consider applicants who contact me only later. Formal applications can go through multiple different Ph.D. programs. In my home department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology here, you will need to be accepted both by the department and by a faculty sponsor. Alternatively, faculty sponsorship is less important for the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program. After three rotations there, you can transfer into my lab via either the Biochemistry and Cellular Molecular Biology graduate program or the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) in Genetics. If you are mathematically inclined, you can apply to the GIDPs in Applied Math or Statistics. Contacting me earlier allows us to discuss the best program for you: the choice has consequences for teaching opportunities and other funding sources, for coursework and comprehensive exams, for rotations, and for the composition of your advisory committee, even if you end up doing the same thesis research.
Applications that do not clearly demonstrate familiarity with our research will not receive a response.
There are currently no funded positions, but grants are pending, this website isn't always updated promptly, and so do get in touch.