I am always interested in students, post-docs and visitors who like to be in the field, are interested in the ecology and evolution of plants and soils and who like to work in a collaborative environment. I try to create an inclusive, professional atmosphere in my lab that creates good communication, values diverse opinions, facilitates collaborative relationships among students and allows for an open discussion of ideas and concepts. Weekly lab group meetings with undergrads, graduate students and postdocs to discuss individual goals, research plans, new datasets, review manuscripts or give practice talks help create this research community. Lab group meetings are held every week (usually Fridays) in combination with Joe Bailey’s lab.
Experience in a lab as an undergrad is a great way to learn some hands-on skills and see if research is for you. There are great opportunities to work in the lab and develop independent projects and honors theses. Most folks start in the lab helping graduate students with their projects, learning techniques and developing questions that then lead to their own projects. Undergrad’s are encouraged (and helped) to publish their work and present it at the UT undergraduate research expo (Eureca), the EEB undergraduate expo and at local conferences such as the Association of Southeastern Biologists and Ecological Society of America meetings. Contact Jen any time with an email stating your interests.
Some previous publications with undergrads in the lab:
Pregitzer, C.C., J.K. Bailey, S.C. Hart & J.A. Schweitzer. 2010. Soils as agents of selection: Feedbacks between plants and soils alter seedling survival and performance. Evolutionary Ecology 24:1045-1059
Stritar, M.L. J.A. Schweitzer, S.C. Hart & J.K. Bailey. 2010. Introduced mammalian herbivore decelerates ecosystem processes after fire. Biological Invasions 12:313-324.
Finding a place to do one’s graduate work is all about finding the right combination of common interests with a mentor, finding a supportive environment and geography. You want to find someone to work with that is doing research you are interested in, where you can learn a range of technical and professional development skills and who you think you could get along with well (for 4-5 years and hopefully a research lifetime). I’m always looking for grad students who are interested in some aspect of the ecology and evolution of plant-soil interactions. I encourage students to design their own research projects and actively help them reach their goals. Grad students are encouraged to apply for their own funding through the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and other programs but teaching assistantships are also possible through EEB.
Read “Thompson’s tips for success in grad school” (PDF)
Applications to EEB are due by 1 Jan. every year to begin the following Fall semester. Please get in touch with Jen before then with your interests and CV to talk about possibilities.
Visitors from other labs are always welcome. There are several local opportunities for visitor funding for post-docs and colleagues and we’d love to have anyone join us for any length of time. Previous visitors have included Christian Ristok, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and John Senior, University of Tasmania.