Prospective students, Johnson Lab

Thanks for your interest in the Johnson Lab!

We are always interested in finding exceptional and highly motivated students to join our team. The Johnson Laboratory strives to create a safe and inclusive environment to support individuals from all backgrounds. We are committed to learning from each other, and we highly value the perspectives and contributions of our lab members and colleagues. Together, we wish to create an atmosphere that fosters personal growth and success.

Students in the lab employ a diverse range of approaches, including laboratory experiments, field research, and modeling, to address broad questions in ecology. Because much of our work is collaborative, students should be able to work effectively in a group dynamic. Students interested in joining the Johnson Lab for undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral research should contact Dr. Johnson directly with a letter of interest in PDF format.

Undergraduate research opportunities in the Johnson Lab are available both during the academic semester and over the summer. Undergraduates interested in summer research should contact Dr. Johnson early in the spring semester to ensure ample time to develop a research plan and secure potential funding. It’s a good idea to explore the lab website, read some recent publications, and identify the types of projects or questions that resonate with you. You should also explore potential funding opportunities such as those provided through CU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the Biological Sciences Initiative (BSI). By contacting our lab early in the spring semester, we can develop a research plan that both fits your long-term research goals and your busy schedule.

Graduate research opportunities in the EBIO department involve first making contact with a prospective advisor prior to applying (see EBIO) so make sure you reach out well in advance of submitting an official application (typically in late summer or early fall). We encourage prospective students to read about CU’s Advantage Program which supports applicants from traditionally underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.

We are currently seeking exceptional and highly motivated graduate students to join the Johnson laboratory (! We are looking for an independent, self-motivated student who is passionate about pursuing research in aquatic ecology and conservation. Students in the lab can employ a diverse range of approaches, including laboratory experiments, field research, and modeling, to address broad questions in ecology. As a lab we are deeply committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field. Students interested in joining the Johnson Laboratory for Ph.D.-level research are encourage to include all requested questions in a composed letter of interest.

Please include the following in your letter of interest (PDF):

  • Curriculum vitae or resume;
  • Which of the two following projects you are interested in;
    • A. Understanding the role of disease in coral reef ecosystems: this project aims to more deeply explore the hidden role of parasites and pathogens within tropical ecosystem. Our system of focus has been Black Spot Syndrome, which is emerging among keystone fish grazers in the Caribbean. We are studying the parasite responsible and working to ascertain what factors influence its emergence and identify the likely consequences for individual hosts and communities. This is a newer project focused in parts of the Caribbean, such as Curacao and Bonaire.
    • B.  How extreme weather events affect disease and threatened species: A key part of this project involves understanding how severe drought can directly and indirectly alter species interactions, both for free-living as well as parasitic organisms, and determine the outcomes for conservation and disease management. We are also exploring ways to forecast disease ‘hotspots’ into the future and even use whole-ecosystem manipulations to manage wildlife infections. This work will combine large-scale analyses with collection of new empirical data, with field work focused at our long-term study sites in California.
  • Your general research interests, previous research experience;
  • Why you are specifically interested in the work being done in the lab;
  • Your contributions to inclusion and diversity;
  • Post-graduate career plans.

Send your letter of interest in PDF as an attachment in your introduction email to: BY OCTOBER 15th, 2023. Please use “Prospective Graduate Student” in the subject line.




Whether you are interested in undergraduate research (e.g., volunteer to get lab experience, pursue and independent study or honors thesis, etc.) or a graduate degree (e.g., Ph.D.) 
For more information on graduate degrees, check out our departmental webpage. For undergraduates interested in honors, see here:



We look forward to hearing from you!