Skip Navigation

Copepods (Tigriopus californicus) (Chris Willett lab) photo credit: Ryuji Machida

Text:
Increase font size
Decrease font size

Training Philosophy

We believe that one of the hallmarks of superior graduate training is a program that allows the student the flexibility to tailor their training to their specific goals and needs rather than being restricted to a set of requirements applied to all students. To ensure that entering students receive the personalized attention and advice that is needed for designing their graduate training program, in particular during the initial years of graduate study, an EEOB faculty member agrees to sponsor each individual student upon admission. Since the majority of our applicants have already identified a research specialty, in most cases the sponsor later becomes the student’s dissertation advisor.

While the advisor serves a crucial advisory role, we also feel that superior graduate training requires that a student be allowed independence in the design and execution of their dissertation research, rather than simply being assigned a project. A successful scientist must master the literature of a field, identify a significant unanswered question, and design and execute a project that provides a definitive answer. We feel that the most effective way to learn these skills is by actual practice in graduate training.

In addition to training in scholarship and research techniques, our students are also trained to present their work in yearly seminars for their fellow Department of Biology graduate students, in smaller EEOB graduate seminars, in local research group meetings with other universities (e.g. in behavior, biomechanics, and population biology) and at a variety of national and international meetings in their research area.

The research interests represented by the EEOB faculty, along with those of the UNC-CH Department of Biology as a whole, cover a remarkable diversity of fields and provide a student with the integrative, multidisciplinary training that characterizes the most important and significant research in the field. Students in the EEOB program are encouraged to take advantage of this range of interests by participating in graduate seminars outside of their specific research area, attending our weekly departmental seminars, and attending seminars in other curricula and departments both on campus and at neighboring universities. Students frequently conduct a portion of their dissertation outside of their advisor’s laboratory.


Who Should Apply?

Our Graduate Admissions Committee evaluates the applications of all candidates before recommending admission to the Ph.D. program. There are no absolutes in terms of grades or other forms of evaluation. Instead, each candidate is evaluated for the sum of his/her credentials. The most important considerations are undergraduate grades, Graduate Record Exam scores, and research experience. Other considerations are the motivation and dedication of the candidate based on letters of reference and interview, and space in the potential sponsor’s laboratory. Based on this preliminary evaluation, and with the agreement of a faculty sponsor, candidates are invited to visit the Biology department to meet with faculty and current graduate students. We are selective in our admissions, and as a result, the majority of admitted students are successful in earning a Ph.D.