Graduate Student Opportunities
Study and Research
Ernest Lab - Wildlife Genetics, Genomics & Population Health
Quality education is a priority with Dr. Ernest and the laboratory.
Acceptance into a graduate group in which Dr. Ernest is a member is required prior to consideration for membership in my lab:
Avian Science, Ecology, Epidemiology, Genetics, Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM)
Excellent grades (GPA), GRE scores (~85%ile or higher), and demonstrated research laboratory experience (genomics / genetics), as well as willness to TA to support your program is very important for lab membership consideration. These factors are vital for securing funding - for your tuition, stipend, and research.
Students interested in graduate research/study in ecological genetics/genomics and have a background some combination of the following may find special interest in our lab:
- Combination of molecular genetics / genomics research (including immunogenetics) laboratory experience is required, and any of the following skills and experience would be great:
- Strong GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and/or avian/mammal population monitoring skills (abilities or interest in applications using programs such as MAXENT, DISTANCE, MARK, etc).
- R- programming language knowledge, skills, and experience.
- Professional connections with state or federal wildlife agencies.
- Innovative aspects of natural population genetics, including predictive modeling
- Excellent quantitative, analytical, and verbal skills
- Self-motivated, able to work independently (with guidance from Dr. Ernest), ambitious, hard-working, excellent interpersonal skills (able to work well with diverse sets of people).
- Interests in
- developing and answering important questions in wildlife health, disease ecology & epidemiology, and conservation ecology
- Wildlife genetics, population health, and disease ecology
- Applications of genomics, disease diagnotic tests, field ecology, natural history, habitat modeling using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), avian population monitoring methods (MARK, DISTANCE, MAXENT, etc), statistics, and/or wildlife epidemiology methods..
- Free-ranging California birds (current focus is on hummingbird ecology, health, and population genetics).
Preference for graduate student membership in our lab will be given to California residents (lower tuition costs), demonstration of excellent scholarship (academic record, GRE's, research experience) and to students who are awarded external (such as NSF) or substantial UC Davis (such as graduate group fellowships) funding for their studies. Students who are not USA residents may be considered only if they secure multiple years of fellowship funding from their country, UC Davis, or other funding sources. Refer to specific UC Davis graduate group web sites for information on UC Davis fellowships.
Due to funding challenges with California state budget, only exceptional applicants with excellent funding opportunities for their research, stipend, and tuition can be considered. Tthat means students who either have secured fellowships prior to starting their graduate degree or have excellent ability to do so during their graduate program and are willing to TA.. To secure such fellowships, students need excellent academic credentials (high GPA and GRE scores), as well as writing, quantitative, and verbal skills. Students should be ready and willing to TA for at least part of their graduate student tenure. TA means work as teaching assistant for UC Davis undergraduate courses. US citizenship and California residency is required unless student has means to pay the extra non-resident tuition (currently >$16,000 per year on top of regular university fees/tuition).
Since funding for graduate wildlife science research is scarse, all students in our lab are required to apply for fellowships and scholarships. As the students' major professor, Dr. Ernest will help guide this process. Students receiving fellowship funding are more likely to gain admission to the lab of their choice. Some are available for application prior to graduate school admission. Here is a partial list:
- NSF - Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) or go to main NSF web site
- EPA STAR fellowships
- Department of Energy (DOE) fellowships
- UC Davis graduate studies funding opportunities
- Visit UC Davis graduate group web sites
- Make your own connections with state, federal, non-profit agencies to get your research funded.
If you believe the interests of our lab match yours and you have excellent grades and GRE’s, send Dr. Ernest an email with the following:
- Transcripts including GPA
- GRE scores (both raw scores and %-iles)
- Interest and experience in the area you hope to work in.
- Brief email (short paragraph) detailing why you are interested in my lab and UCD for graduate work, and what you hope to gain through a graduate program, and what skills and strengths you would bring to our lab. Explain what general sort of research you would like to work on. Flexibility in interests are a plus.
- Short emails help me to respond quicker to you. Also helps if you paste prior email threads we exchanged to help remind me of past communications..
- See these resources (and do your own internet searches