Every year, I receive quite a few emails from prospective students, who are interested in our research and want to join the group. If you are one of those, these page may help to answer some questions.
Do you accept new students this year?
I am always looking for enthusiastic, conscientious, curious, dependable and ambitious students who want to work within a larger group on questions in applied and fundamental marine population genomics. Unfortunately, (as you probably know) funding is tight, and unless a position is advertised here, I don’t have any funded graduate student positions available. That should not stop you: there are many opportunities you can pursue (for example, the NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship, the NOAA Nancy Foster program, or the EPA Star Fellowships). You can also check out the list of fellowships of the UW Graduate School. There are also scholarships by SAFS (see below). The important thing is to start things early and don’t leave it until two weeks before a deadline.
How does the admission process at SAFS work?
We receive about 120 applications every year, which get ranked by the Admission Committee. The top 5-6 candidates are offered a SAFS scholarship that covers 6 quarters support and tuition. Many others are ‘accepted pending outside funding’, that means, they are accepted if there is a faculty member with an open position. As a rule, SAFS only admits students with at least 6 quarters support. We have about 15-20 new graduate students each year.
Unless you have an MS already, SAFS will only admit you to the Master’s program. This sounds like a drag, but is a very good idea. It gives both you and me to see how it works and whether you want to pursue your studies to a PhD. If you do, it is possible to bypass the Master’s degree after a year or two and go straight for the PhD. If not, you can finish after 2 or 3 years, and you can leave here with an MS degree.
Have a look at the SAFS Graduate Program page for more information.
How can I increase my chances of being accepted?
First, make sure that you contact faculty early, and make sure to contact several different faculty members, as one of them may have an open position. You should also apply to more than one school, unless you are convinced that you will be accepted at any particular one.
Second, grades and test scores are obviously important. Although we all realize that they are imperfect predictors of graduate student performance, it is often the only thing we have. If your grades are suboptimal, try to bolster your CV in other ways, for example, by publications, lab or field experience, or excellent letters of reference. Sometimes it is best to take a pause after receiving the BS degree, and to gain some experience in the field before launching into a graduate program.
Third, apply for scholarships (see above). Even if you are not successful, it shows that your are aware of funding issues, have your own ideas and made attempts to find your own funding.
What kind of advisor are you?
Hmm, tricky one. Ask my graduate students…. I realize that picking a graduate advisor is an important decision that will affect you for a long time. I try to support my graduate student in their aims, and help them where they want to go. I like independent students who plan their own activities but who keep me informed and ask for advice when necessary. I have an open door policy, which means that I am accessible for my graduate students unless I really have to deal with a crisis. I also try to encourage students to help each other and to seek help elsewhere, because many brains come up with better ideas than just two. Nevertheless, I am involved in all student projects, and we can meet as often as you feel is necessary.
How should I contact you?
Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions. If you email me, make sure that you understand the main research focus of the groups – I get dozens of emails that seem to suggest that the author hasn’t bothered to find out what we do. Also, send me a (i) statement of your research interests and longer term aims, (ii) a full CV and (iii) recent transcripts (including GREs). I try to answer emails as soon as I can, but sometimes it can take a few days.