Prospective Grad StudENTS
Paul is always interested in hearing from prospective graduate students. As a research group we value intellectual diversity, and past students have come from very different disciplinary backgrounds (ecology, mathematics, physics, environmental science and social sciences) and have gone on to undertake very different types of research activity during their graduate studies (modeling, field surveys, large scale-spatial analyses). Interested students should send Paul an email including a brief CV and a covering letter outlining your research interests and indicating how they complement recent research activities in the group.
Applications for Fall graduate entry (August) usually need to be completed by December of the previous year with offers typically being made in March. To be on target for those dates, prospective students should contact Paul no later than August-October before the application deadline. As well as contacting Paul, you should do your homework. First, evaluate whether graduate study in EEB is for you - read sources like Peters 1997 "Getting What You Came For", talk to past academic advisors you have had, talk to EEB grad students here or elsewhere and do everything you can to find out what it is like. You are committing to a major program of study, you owe it to yourself to learn everything you can about what it will entail. Second, evaluate whether Paul is a sensible choice of advisor. How well do your own research interests align with what you have read here? If you think they align well, dig in a bit further by reading some of our recent papers (if you don't have library access, email Paul to ask for copies), see whether you find them interesting and decide if they describe the sorts of research you would like to learn how to do. Finally, look at EEB as a whole Department and Knoxville as a place and try to figure out if this is somewhere where you would like to be based for several years.
Some students in the lab are funded on teaching assistantships through EEB and undertake some teaching for the Department. Others are funded on fellowships, which often pay better and give students more time to focus on their studies. As such, prospective students are encouraged to explore fellowship opportunities. For example, students in our group have won fellowships from national programs such as NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program and from internal programs that are only open to students at UT, such as those provided through the Program for Excellence & Equity in Research (PEER) and through NIMBioS.
International students - each year, a number of students in the Department's incoming graduate cohort come from overseas. Paul himself did both of his PhDs overseas. Some international students are supported financially by UT whereas others rely on outside sources of funding. At the same time, many international students' applications to EEB are unsuccessful, and most commonly this is because the students only focus on the application paperwork but fail to understand the nature of our degree program and the opportunities that we offer. If you are applying internationally, it is important that you talk to Paul early in the process and that you are very diligent about the suggestions outlined above. The number of enquiries that Paul gets from international students interested in joining the group is very large and most haven't done their homework first. Studying overseas can be a fantastic opportunity, but it is not for everybody.