Dear Prospective Graduate Students,

Welcome to the Aridlands Ecology Laboratory and thank you for your interest in our work. An update for this upcoming academic year: I am planning to accept a student into the lab for the 2017 academic year. I am looking for creative, hard-working, conscientious and enthusiastic students who have a passion for ecology and scientific research and look forward to taking a team approach to doing science. 

One of the most important decisions you will make in choosing a graduate program is selecting a graduate advisor. You will be working closely with this person over several years and it is critically important to make a choice that fits well not only with your research interests but your overall approach to science. 

Many of you may be sending letters before applying to a program to see if your interests match well with a potential advisor. I receive many letters from prospective graduate students during the fall before applications are due and I have written this letter as a general guide to making contact not only with me but also with other prospective advisors. 

As a first step, please look thoroughly through the lab website to get an idea of the type of questions we address and where we are working. After this first introduction to the research we are doing, if you find that the research is of interest to you and in a topic area that you envision working on over several years, then I would look more closely at the most recent publications coming from the lab. After this, if you are still excited about the research focus of the lab group, you should write me a letter of introduction. The letter of introduction should be a professional letter that includes the following information:

  1. Attached curriculum vitae.
  2. Your general research interests and how they intersect with the work we are doing.
  3. Whether or not you are applying for a M. S. or Ph.D. program.
  4. Research experience.
  5. Educational background.
  6. Why you want to obtain an advanced degree and some thoughts on what you would like to do after graduate school.
  7. Why you are specifically interested in work being done in the lab.

For more general information regarding the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology you can go to the departmental website which fully describes the different types of degrees and the requirements throughout the program: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I hope this helps in the navigating the graduate school application process.

Nichole Barger