Lab

I am currently seeking a postdoc to work on the Phrapl project (NSF-funded) with Bryan Carstens. Applications will start being reviewed May 1, 2013 and will continue until filled. Presubmission inquiries are encouraged: I can give you a copy of the proposal and more background on the project. See more information here.


My lab is at the U. of Tennessee, Knoxville. If you are interested in joining it, please contact me. Like most researchers, I seek independent, creative thinkers. Students should have a strong interest in evolutionary biology or other areas of biology (ecology, epidemiology) where the application or development of phylogenetic techniques would be helpful. Experience with math and programming is desirable but not strictly required. Do not let lack of some particular skill discourage you from applying -- passion for the work is most important (though passion plus competence is better). You can see current and past last members here: ask any of them for a candid assessment of working here (and please do not tell me what they say, positive or negative, lest this possibility color what they tell you. They already provide feedback with face to face meetings and the anonymous feedback form). Our lab focuses on development and application of new techniques, not acquisition of datasets. However, we have numerous collaborations with empiricists, so students (esp. grad students) seeking to spend part of their time on an empirical project should have the opportunity to do so.

To apply to graduate school in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (PhD and MS), see here. The deadline is Dec. 15, annually. Students are generally admitted with the intention of working with a particular faculty member, so it is important to contact her or him early in the process. The department only admits as many students as can be funded. In my experience so far with UTK EEB graduate students, they appear happy and productive. Creating skilled, thoughtful researchers is a focus of the department. Cost of living in Knoxville is surprisingly low (do a comparison yourself -- a typical grad stipend of over $19K here is equivalent to $28K in Boston or $35K in San Francisco), especially given that the city itself is culturally vibrant, has good schools and health care, and is nestled in a beautiful environment. Admitted students are funded through TAships. However, there are other sources of funding available (often through a competition), such as NSF Graduate Student Fellowships (due in early to mid-November), PEER funding (for underrepresented minority students, which can include gender, ethnicity, first in family to go to college, etc.), SCALE-IT (for students who want training in applying computational tools to biology), and NIMBios TAships and RAships.

Undergraduates interested in UTK should see this site. See here for deadlines. Contact me for opportunities in my lab, especially if you have project ideas.

The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBios), recently created at UTK, has several opportunities for those who want to work with me, people in my lab, or any of the other faculty, postdocs, or students at UTK, NIMBios, or Oak Ridge National Labs, as well as those who want to forge collaborations with researchers around the world with or without involvement of local researchers. These include postdoctoral fellowships, sabbatical fellowships, and short term visitor funding (1-4 weeks), as well as the opportunity for working groups and investigative workshops. Having NIMBioS here is like being a crocodile on a wildebeest migration route: hundreds of scientists working on the interface of math and biology thunder by, ripe for interaction.

For more info on the lab, see page of lab standards and facilities. We have access to hundreds of computation nodes to use for simulations or other analyses, and so far, each lab member has gotten use of a Mac pro desktop at work with multiple monitors. Below, you can see the layout for the grad student/postdoc space -- my office is right across the hall.



Our lab space is intended to be handicapped-accessible (though it has not been certified), though the hilly topography of campus is frankly not ideal for those with limited mobility. However, see UTK's Office of Disability Services for information on available accommodations. For new mothers, there is a room for pumping in a building connected to the lab by an enclosed bridge (about 150 feet, door-to-door) and a somewhat nicer space (I've been told) in Ayres hall, across the street from the lab. Parents can apply to have their children enroll in the on-campus Early Learning Center (infant through kindergarten) though of course there are many other childcare options.