Opportunities

I have an opportunity for a grad student or two and for postdocs. More details will be coming out, but if you’re interested, please contact me (bomeara@utk.edu or twitter DM at @omearabrian)

Grad students

I am recruiting one or two graduate students for August 2020. They can be PhD or Masters students.

Advantages

  • Guaranteed support (via TAing) for students making adequate progress
    • Stipend ($20K/year)
    • Tuition
    • Health care
    • But not all student fees are covered
  • Strong graduate student community
  • Independence: students pursue their projects with my guidance. I don’t need you to help push forward my research program, my role is to help you develop yours (in an area where I’m competent to advise)
  • You can do this — as long as you’re driven by questions, you’ll learn the skills you need to address them (sometimes the math/programming we do in the lab can seem intimidating at first [it did when I was starting grad school — I couldn’t program at all] but everyone who comes in will get it eventually — really).
  • Low cost of living, easy access to natural environment like the Smokies, more
  • Core course to provide background
  • Opportunity to also get a masters in statistics while getting a PhD
  • Lots of past mentees to get honest info from: https://academictree.org/evolution/tree.php?pid=129230 (note lab policy is that candidates never tell me what past or current members say, positive or negative, so that they can be completely honest with you)

Disadvantages

  • Many people, both inside our department and in the area as a whole, are working to make Knoxville inclusive and welcoming to everyone, but we know that there remain areas to improve, and not all are within our control. My lab is a welcoming, supportive place (I hope) but not everything here is.
  • I’ve been doing more administrative/service things lately: serving as an associate head, working on the code of conduct committee for the three evolution societies, and so forth. I still do substantial research and teaching, and I do not expect that to change — my goal is not to become an administrator, and I’ve turned down invitations to apply for more admin-heavy roles. That said, there is a higher risk that could happen than there has been in the past.
  • Students are admitted to the program, not to a lab. This is a good thing in general: you can get co-advised, you can switch advisors, etc. However, it means that the department admits you, so you’re not just competing with other students who might apply to my lab, but with students for other labs for a limited number of departmental slots.
  • My expertise and professional network is mostly research-intensive academia. I encourage students to pursue their desired career, and will help you achieve it — this isn’t an attempt to wave off people pursuing particular careers (half my students have pursued careers outside university teaching and research). I just want to be honest that I’m not as connected to communities at NGOs, government agencies, private companies, and so forth as others may be. Our department as a whole has individuals who can help with these connections, and we’re not focused on just one particular career path as an outcome, so this could be a good place for you. Regardless of your interest, we’ll together develop a mentoring plan that will try to help you achieve it.

Postdocs

I’ll be providing more detail once ads and such are approved, but there will be a posting for a one year postdoc on diversification methods and likely another postdoc for trait evolution. The diversification postdoc will help figure out the mathematics of ascertainment bias: basically, if you’re a fan of Dr. Tanja Stadler’s work (especially Stadler 2012), or could be with a bit of reading, you could be great for the position. Working remotely as a postdoc is very feasible: about half my recent postdocs have been entirely remote, and we have procedures to make sure that everyone is included evenly (our “water cooler” is a gitter chat, all lab meetings are online video conferences for everyone, etc.).