I am always writing proposals for new projects to support graduate students. As new opportunities become available, I will post them here, on my Twitter feed, and advertise at the job board of the Ornithology Exchange and the Texas A&M Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (scroll down for links).
Unfortunately, I canNOT recruit you for a position in my lab without a dedicated grant to create that position. No matter how well your background and interests might match my own, if I don’t have an active position that I’m advertising here then I don’t have a spot for you in my lab.
General Graduate Study in my Department
In Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State, we offer tuition waivers for all graduate students on assistantships (research or teaching). A master’s student on an assistantship receives about $1200 per month for 12 months. Exceptional students can qualify for supplemental support as well. A limited number of fellowships are available each year to outstanding students. These provide a generous stipend, tuition waiver, and no work requirement other than the student’s own research. (Note when budgeting that OSU waives tuition for students on assistantships but they still charge you some annoying “fees”.)
Please note that here in NREM we have just a limited number of teaching assistantships at any given time. This means that no matter how awesome you are or how much I’d like to recruit you, I cannot do that unless I have an active extramural grant to create a position. Grad school acceptance is as much about lucky timing as it is aptitude. Please see this conversation about graduate school I prepared for folks new to the process.
Above all it is important to cast a broad net for graduate school. Here at OSU hopeful students who might want to work in my lab should also consider other faculty labs in NREM, Integrative Biology, and Geography. Broader still, keep an eye on job boards linked above (and below) and be prepared to take advantage of the best opportunity for you, regardless of where it might be.
What I expect from my students.
If you are a grad student in my lab, then you are smart enough to be doing just about anything else and making a lot more money doing it. You’re here, doing this, because you’re motivated by a conservation ethic that places a higher value on public service and the attainment of knowledge than the amassing of personal fortune.
You probably also like birds.
All advisors will tell you that they expect long hours of self-directed labor from their grad students. We all want you to publish – I’m looking for at least two papers from each Master’s student and three from each Ph.D. But there’s still more: I expect my students to give freely of their time to outreach opportunities, to participate fully in departmental seminars and other activities, and to become involved with a relevant professional organization. A dedication to going this extra mile to promote science and conservation to people from all walks of life is a hallmark of our tradition as a land grant university.
I am very much interested in mentoring undergraduate students to increase their preparation for careers in the natural sciences. My graduate students are typically engaged in field work from mid-May to mid-July; during each year’s field season we usually have space and support to hire 1–2 undergraduate field assistants. These positions require long, hot, buggy hours of work, but they provide the type of field experience that is extremely attractive to potential future employers. We could use just about any hard-working, detail oriented person for these types of positions, but the ability to identify birds by song is a big plus. If you know your birds by song then I can find things for you to do.
At any time of year, I welcome the opportunity for undergraduates to perform analyses and prepare manuscripts using our data for term projects or independent study. Please just send me an email if you’re interested.
I frequently write about undergraduate success strategies and professional development on The Waterthrush Blog. Reading some of those essays will help to demystify a lot of questions undergrads often face as they begin to transition from student to professional. For students wondering about conducting undergraduate research, this one is a must.
Research, Conservation, & Birding
Partners in Flight
North American Bird Conservation Initiative
Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Great Backyard Bird Count
North American Breeding Bird Survey
Bird Banding Laboratory
Avian Knowledge Network
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
The National Aviary
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
American Bird Conservancy
Birding By Radar
George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center
Oklahoma Ornithological Society
Payne County Audubon Society
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
European Bird Census Council
Hawk Migration – Shinshu, Japan
Boreal Songbird Initiative
Professional societies (Get money to travel to meetings – among other benefits.)
Ornithological Societies of North America
The Wildlife Society
Ecological Society of America
International Association for Landscape Ecology
Society for Conservation Biology
Wilson Ornithological Society
American Ornithological Society
Association of Field Ornithologists