Prospective Lab Members

I am strongly committed to maintaining an environment that is stimulating and supportive, where all lab members are genuinely having fun pursuing science and its applications. I take mentoring very seriously, and invest a lot of my time and energy in all members in the lab—while they are here, and throughout their careers. I expect a few things from all members of the lab:

  • Commitment to put in the time and effort necessary to excel
  • Pursuit of novel and exciting research questions in a rigorous manner
  • Integrity-in your science and your interactions with all lab affiliates
  • Be a respectful and supportive member of the lab – take your labmates’ projects as seriously as you do your own. This means playing an active role in providing constructive feedback at all stages of their work. Also be considerate in the use of all shared resources, space, etc.
  • Maturity and professionalism- take responsibility for your work and your actions, fulfill all obligations, be honest and direct about both positive and negative experiences.
  • Help maintain a positive and fun atmosphere in the lab

Graduate Students – I will NOT be accepting students for the fall of 2019

Graduate school is a lot of hard work, but also is an incredible opportunity to spend a few years exploring topics that you are most curious about. I strive to train students to become independent scientists who are creative, rigorous, and integrative—who can link focused mechanistic studies with a big-picture perspective. I work closely with each of my students to help them identify and develop their own projects, and to ensure that these projects will be a significant contribution to the field. While I am committed to putting in the time and effort to make each student excel—I expect them to take the lead on their own projects and careers. Each student’s project is expected to provide novel and exciting advances in ecological science. Many of my students are also very involved in linking science and management—this is encouraged, but not required. I strongly feel that projects can simultaneously address cutting-edge conceptual questions and applied issues—however, to do a good job at both, extra effort is required, and the student must be committed to that. To see a more detailed list of my expectations, and what you can expect from me, click here.

The career paths of my students range from academics to management, but students who apply to my lab should have a genuine interest in engaging in high quality science during graduate school. My lab is not the right fit for those who are purely interested in management, without the desire to also pursue cutting-edge theoretical questions. My graduate students are working in diverse systems and on a number of different topics (see people and projects links for details). To determine if you are a good fit for the lab, carefully read through our website, and read a few of the publications that are most exciting to you. While my interests are broad, the closer your interests match my expertise, the better guidance I am able to provide as an advisor. In general, I welcome applications from highly qualified candidates with interests in plant-soil interactions as mediators of population, community, and ecosystem dynamics.

My students are supported through a combination of fellowships, block grants, teaching assistantships, and graduate research assistantships associated with my funded work. While I am committed to funding any students I accept in my lab, I fully expect all students to actively pursue their own funding through grants and fellowships. This is a critical training opportunity (for both science and management careers), and if successful, will provide you with more independence and flexibility.

If you are interested in applying to the lab, contact me directly with a letter describing specific research interests and career goals, a detailed CV, unofficial transcripts, GRE scores (if available, please send percentiles rather than raw scores), and the contact information for 3 or more references.

I accept students through a number of graduate programs (see list below). Visit these graduate program websites for details on application processes, deadlines, and specifics on the general programs.

Graduate Groups:

Undergraduate Students

There are a number of ways that hard-working and enthusiastic students can get involved in my lab and gain valuable research experience. Most quarters we have 1-2 paid positions where students can help the lab with various lab, field, and greenhouse tasks. We also often have on-call positions for undergraduates– where we send out emails when we need extra help in the field for a few days or weekend, and students can be paid for helping out during the times that fit in their schedule. For students who are interested in leading their own project, there are volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities to get course credit for research experiences. There are also opportunities to apply for grants that will pay you to do independent research in the lab.

See the following website for UCD opportunities:

If you are interested, send me an email and tell me about your background, the types of questions you’d most like to explore, relevant course experience, employment history, and contact information of 2-3 references (they do not all need to be academic references).


I am interested in collaborating on projects of mutual interest, and am always interested in adding excellent people to my group who will bring in creative ideas, help mentor less senior members, and who have demonstrated innovation and productivity in their PhD work. When I have my own grant funding to hire postdoctoral researchers, I will post that announcement. When no funding is immediately available through my grants, I am happy to discuss the possibility of writing joint proposals and providing support for fellowship applications (see below for links to several funding sources).

If you are interested in being part of the lab, send me: a letter stating your interests and accomplishments, representative publications from your work, and contact information for 3 references.

Post-doc funding opportunities: