My philosophy in training students is to let students pursue the projects that interest them. Therefore, as one can see from the People and Alumni part of the website, there are a large variety of projects that students have undertaken over the years. One can also note, however, that there are recurring themes in these projects that center largely on community ecology and on species evolution in a community context. The lab meets together in lab meetings, informal potlucks and other activities, and we exchange ideas and mentor each other through these activities. Currently, I am not taking new students in the Strauss lab.
How to Apply
Currently, I am not taking new students in the lab. New additions to EVE faculty are: Jennifer Gremer, who will be joining our department in Jan 2015; she is interested in the evolutionary ecology of plants and plant communities. Santiago Ramirez, also in the department, conducts a broad range of studies, many of which include plant-insect coevolution.
When one applies to UC Davis graduate school, the structure of the graduate training programs can be overwhelming and confusing. Here is a brief explanation. Unlike at many other schools, UC Davis has many graduate groups that span departments. Two appropriate cross-departmental graduate groups are Ecology and Population Biology. These are separate entities from the department to which I belong – Evolution and Ecology, despite the similarity in names. The Pop Bio and Ecology graduate groups differ primarily in their core courses in the first year. Pop Bio covers ecology, but also evolution, speciation and phylogenetics. The Pop Bio core is more quantitatively oriented than the Ecology core. In contrast, core training in the Ecology Grad Group is centered almost solely in ecology, and can leave more time to do research in the first year. Communicate with your prospective advisor about which program might be best for you—this decision will depend primarily on your interests. For some students, it might make sense to apply to both programs, but usually, one or the other is a better fit.
Regardless of which program a student belongs to, the advisor’s lab community is the primary community, especially after the first year. There are also additional avenues for community stemming from the grad group to which students belong, and of course, from other campus organizations and outside activities.
Grad groups invite (pay for transportation and put up students at other students’ houses) prospective students to visit Davis, and to check out the program and the labs, if students are competitive applicants. So, this visit is of minimal expense to prospective students, but is essential in letting the students check out the program and the lab, and vice versa. It is important that students visit us prior to admission, even if it is not possible to visit during the official grad student weekends sponsored by Pop Bio and Ecology.