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Brunner Lab Prospective Students

Prospective graduate students

I am interested in bringing into my lab bright, enthusiastic, curious, and self-motivated graduate students. I am interested in students that will take an active role in their education and research. You can see the types of research questions that we are working on—indeed, new students will be involved in one of these projects from the start so that they can see how the whole process works, from whiteboard to manuscript—but I expect my students will bring their own ideas and take this research in new directions.

One of the things I like best about “disease ecology” is that it involves aspects of so many other fields such as conservation biology, population ecology, community ecology, behavior, molecular biology, statistics, and evolution. So think broadly, be bold, and remember, a good research project often takes you in directions you would have never imagined when you started.

There are a few things to consider before applying to join my lab. First, I am interested in broad questions and principles and I will push you to think and ask questions at this level. If you simply want to focus on the growth rate of Bd in the skin of newly metamorphosed wood frogs (or the equivalent) and don’t really care about the general lesson that can be learned, then this might not be the right lab for you. Similarly, we aren’t generally doing on-the-ground conservation work. If that is your primary drive, there are probably better labs to join. Fortunately, I think you can ask very applied questions in a theoretical or big-picture context.

Second, given the lab’s focus on connecting models and data, you will need to be comfortable with quantitative methods and tools. Calculus, statistics, and programming experience are all helpful, though I do not necessarily require a great deal of experience. I am more concerned that my students are unafraid and ready to spend the time and effort to learn these, or whatever skills are required.

Similarly, I think that being able to write is an essential skill in science. This means that you will be expected to write your own grants, contribute to and edit others’ efforts, and write and submit manuscripts before you leave. You should think carefully about whether these emphases match your own interests and goals.

If you are interested in working with me, send me

  1. a brief statement of your interests (goals/ambitions, reason(s) for your interest in WSU and my lab),
  2. your Curriculum Vitae, with your GPA (SBS is no longer accepting GRE scores in graduate student applications.), and
  3. a summary of your research background.

Remember, I am interested in the why much more than the what you have done.

Application fee waivers are granted on a limited basis at the discretion of the Graduate School. If the application fees or other financial issues are likely to cause problems, please do let me know before applying and I’ll do my best to make this work!

Prospective Undergrads in the lab

I am always looking for bright, responsible, curious undergraduates to help with lab and field work. These will usually start out as volunteer positions, but funding often becomes available for good students. Interested students should send me a brief statement of interests (Why do you want to get involved? What are you hoping to do or get out of your experience?) along with their CV (including GPA) and, if applicable, their previous research background. Note that it can take a while to find a good match between your interests and our ongoing projects, so be patient and feel free to remind me of your interest if I haven’t respond in a bit.