Join our lab

Our lab is full at the moment. I’m only considering exceptional students.

How to apply

Please contact me as early as possible before you apply to the department. Send me an email entitled “prospective student” with a single PDF attachment containing (1) an informal cover letter explaining your scientific research interests, goals, prior experiences, and whatever else you think is relevant; (2) your CV; (3) an informal academic transcript with GPA, classes, and grades (a screenshot is fine); and (4) the name and email addresses of two references.

You do not have to work on bats to join the lab. I welcome researchers interested in cooperation, communication, or cognition in different systems.

For MSc applicants: You don’t need any project ideas. We can think up projects together that can be completed in 2 years. There may be opportunities to extend or convert a successful MSc project into a PhD. The goal is for you to write a good paper that teaches you how to do research and makes you an expert on a very specific topic.

For PhD applicants: You should have some ideas regarding research topics that interest you, but please don’t be afraid to send me research ideas and interests that are vague. The goal is for you to publish 3 or more good papers, establishing you as a research authority on the topic of your dissertation.

  • Read my advice for grad students.
  • Read about our research.
  • Apply for fellowships. A fellowship pays your stipend, so you can pursue research full-time without having to teach. Look into the deadline for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. See what else you can find.  Look up fellowships at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ford Foundation, Human Frontiers, Fulbright, etc. There are also university fellowships.
  • Consider getting some research experience, if you don’t have any. Look into internships and research assistantships.
  • Read papers. To really get caught up in a field, you probably need to spend at 6-12 months of your first year completely immersing yourself in the literature– just reading, writing, and thinking critically about whatever specific topic you want to study. The best way to do this is to write a critical review paper. Then use that to write a good proposal (see below) and the first chapter of your dissertation.
  • If you’re interested in our lab, you should read our papers. The more you know, the easier it will be to discuss potential projects.

Postdocs: Let’s discuss possible projects! I am especially excited to bring novel skills or expertise to the lab, and I’m particularly interested in people proficient with application of machine learning to automating detection and measurement of animal sounds.

Funding: You should apply for external fellowships, but Teaching Assistantships (paid by the department), and Research Assistantships (paid from my startup funds) are also available.

Useful links:

4 thoughts on “Join our lab

  1. Hello my name is Cristian Castillo Salazar, I just finished my bachelor in Tropical Biology and I am from Costa Rica. I have three years involved in the amazing world of bats and I’ve been assistant of several projects. I am very interested in the internship because I like the part of behavioral and cognitive ecology, however I see in the page to choose the option of paid internships for undergraduates, I have to be a resident of Panama or have USA citizenship, then I wanted to consult you if these requirements are very strict to opt for this option because I do not have the resources to choose one of the other options, but I like to help you very much.

    I thank you for all the information you can provide me




  2. Hello, I just found your blog. My husband and I live in Panama and we reforested 8 hectares in the western azuero and we made a cave with blocks and cement and there is a small colony of 25 common vampire bats in there (according to two bat students from cobleskill university). We also have a colony of proboscis bats that lives in front of a room in the small bed and breakfast we run. Both my husband Kees and I (loes) have studied biology (he has a PhD and I have an MSc). If you ever have students in Panama that would like to study ‘our’ bats…
    We also have tent making bats and more…

    And further, I really would like to make a colouring book about bats… but I need great photos. If you like the idea, you could allow me to use photos from your blog as inspiration.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.



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