Graduate Study with Me in Wildlife and
                     Fisheries Science at the University of Arizona
A picture of the members of the Koprowski Lab at UA

I thoroughly enjoy learning about natural systems and their use and conservation by humans--the mosaic of desert, grasslands, and montane 'sky islands' of the southwestern United States is a wonderful place in which to do so.  Since moving to the U of A in Fall 2000, I have been working to establish a research program that focuses heavily on the mammals of the forested montane islands (AKA 'sky islands') and surrounding sea of desert and grasslands.  I welcome graduate students with a similar enthusiasm for science and a real passion for the conservation, behavioral, and population ecology of wildlife (for more on my interests you can visit my homepage).  The program here has a wealth of expertise in applied and basic science with a particular strength in the resources of the desert southwest, sky islands, and borderlands.  Because the graduate school experience is where you will develop your professional reputation, selection of the right environment for you is critical, and a real passion for your model system and questions of interest are what help you succeed.  You should contact me about a year before you are interested in starting graduate school to enable initial review of your qualifications and to discuss project options. This page contains a number of links that may be helpful in your quest to find the appropriate match of a graduate school program that may include the University of Arizona.  Click on the area of interest to you:

            *--A quick overview of my lab group  Koprowski Research Group Overview
            *--Potential Projects--possible opportunities available in my research group
            *--Information on the UA and studies in Wildlife Conservation and Management
            *--My Lab Group
               The Cast of Characters--Links to web pages of my graduate students
               Journal Club--This week's readings
            *--Graduate Assistantships
            *--The GRE
            *--Fellowships available for Graduate Study
            *--Funding for Research Projects
            *--Where do I get external information on Graduate Programs at the University of Arizona?
            *--Helpful hints on graduate school admissions and life as a graduate student--
            *--FAQ's about Graduate School?
            *--A suggested timetable for the Application process
            *--Hints for increasing your competitiveness

One of my favorites from PhD Comics...

Recent Projects Available (No additional openings are available for 2011-2012)...
               Check back periodically for updates and new projects:

     Project 1: Impact of introduced Abert's squirrels on endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels: an experimental examination using removals (PhD student). This project would involve intensive field work in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona to examine the potential impact of introduced Abert's squirrels, a large bodied tree squirrel, on the smaller bodied endangered endemic Mt. Graham red squirrels.  We will use removal experiments to determine changes in space and habitat use, nest site selection, and diet.  POSITION FILLED

    Project 2: Reintroduction of black-tailed prairie dogs: effects of an ecosystem engineer on desert grassland communities.  Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) have been called ecosystem engineers and keystone species by many biologists.  The species was extirpated from Arizona in the early 1900's.  Recent concern about the species throughout its range has led to the reintroduction of the species.  This project will examine the growth of BTPD populations and their impacts on plant and animal communities.  POSITION FILLED

     Project 3: Are red squirrels a keystone species in coniferous forests? (MS student)  Red squirrels construct large piles of debris in which they larderhoard cones.  These structures, known as middens, represent a significant increase in structural complexity and energy concentration within many forests.  We know that other species use these middens but just how integral middens are to diversity and ecosystem function is not known.  POSITION FILLED

    Project 4: Are roads barriers to juvenile dispersal in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels? (MS and PhD student)   This project would involve intensive field work in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona to assess patterns of natal dispersal in juvenile squirrels and assess the influence of roads on dispersal behavior in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels.  Radiotelemetric monitoring will be used to assess juvenile dispersal and propensity to cross roads.  Patterns of gene flow and demographic linkages between different portions of the mountain range may also be studied.  In addition, radiotelemetric monitoring and remote cameras will be used to assess road crossing and habitat characteristics that facilitate successful crossing will be examined using GIS and field collected data.  POSITIONS FILLED

Information on the graduate school experience at the University of Arizona
        College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
        School of Natural Resources and the Environment
        Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation and Management
        The U of A Graduate School
        Koprowski Research Group Overview

The Cast of Characters

         John L. Koprowski's web page  and the Mt. Graham red squirrel research page (find publications and meet the staff)

          My current and recent graduate students are more likely to give you the straight scoop on me...here are links to their webpages or email
      
 
                                          Seafha Blount (PhD)            Traditional and scientific knowledge of fishers and martens on tribal lands   
                                            Hsiang Ling Chen (PhD)        Red squirrel road crossing behavior 
                                           
Jonathan Derbridge (PhD)   Impacts of non-native Abert's squirrel on endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels
                                            Nate Gwinn (MS)                 Response of introduced Abert's squirrels to fire

                                            Sarah Hale (PhD)                 Behavioral ecology black-tailed prairie dogs following reintroduction
                                            Rosa Jessen (MS)               Tree squirrels as indicators of rainforest quality
                                            Tim Jessen (MS)                 Efficacy of hair tubes for population monitoring of tree squirrels
                                            Yeong-Seok Jo (PhD)          Ecology of cliff chipmunks: competition with an endangered species?
                                            Shari Ketcham (MS)             Differential response of native Arizona Gray Squirrels and non-native Abert's Squirrels
                                            Melissa Merrick (PhD)         The role of natal experience in natal dispersal of red squirrels
                                            Karen Munroe (PhD)            Social and mating Systems of Round-tailed Ground Squirrels

                                            Geoff Palmer (MS)              Impacts of introduced Mexican Red-bellied Squirrels in Biscayne National Park    
                                            Erin Posthumus
(MS)            Red squirrel middens as hotspots of diversity         
                                            Nicolas Ramos (PhD)            Ecology and conservation of endemic Mearns's Squirrels in Baja California
                                                   

                                        Recent Alums of my lab: 

                                           Seafha Blount (MS)        Response of endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels to fire... ('09, PhD @ U Arizona)  
                                           Debbie Buecher (MS)      Microchiropteran bat community ecology at seasonal water sources
('07, Ecological Consultant, Tucson)
                                           Carol Coates (MS)           Habitat characteristics in occupied & unoccupied BT prairie dog sites
                                                                                                                                                                    ('05, Ecological Consultant, Grand Junction, CO)

                                           Nichole Cudworth (MS)   Ecology of the sky island endemic Arizona Gray Squirrel ...('09, Research Biologist, Wyoming Fish & Game)
                                           Sandy Doumas (MS)        Response of Mexican Fox Squirrels to fire ...Congrats! (Dec '10, Research Technician U Arizona)
                                           Andrew Edelman (MS)     Ecology of Introduced Abert's Squirrels in the Pinaleno Mtns
                                                                                                                                                                    ('04; PhD @ U New Mexico, Post-doc at U Wyoming)

                                           Kate Leonard (MS)          Response of Mt. Graham red squirrels to thinning from below ('06 field biologist, State of Florida)
                                           Rebecca Minor (MS)        Cone removal by introduced Abert's squirrels
  Congrats! (Dec '10, Research Technician U Arizona)
                                           Bret Pasch (MS)              Influence of fire on the ecology of Mexican Fox Squirrels ('04...PhD @ U Florida,Post-doc at U Texas)
                                           Margaret Rheude (MS)    Conservation genetics and the impacts of urbanization on mesocarnivores
                                                                                                                                                                        ('08, field biologist US Fish&Wildlife Service)

                                           David Wood (MS)            Spatially explicit models for the endangered Mt. Graham Red Squirrels ('07, Presidential Fellow BLM)
                                           Meghan Yurenka (MS)     Microclimates of occupied & unoccupied Mt. Graham Red Squirrel middens (Vet near Seattle)
                                           Claire Zugmeyer (MS)     Ecology of Mt. Graham red squirrels in spruce-fir forests
                                                                                                                              damaged by insects (Research Scientist, Sonoran Institute)

  This Week's Readings: TBA

 ______________________________________________________
Where to now?
            *--Back to Top
            *--Potential Projects--possible opportunities available in my research group
            *--Information on the UA and studies in Wildlife Conservation and Management
            *--My Lab Group
               The Cast of Characters--Links to web pages of my graduate students
               Journal Club--This week's readings*--Graduate Assistantships
            *--The GRE
            *--Fellowships available for Graduate Study
            *--Funding for Research Projects
            *--Where do I get external information on Graduate Programs at the University of Arizona?
            *--Helpful hints on graduate school admissions and life as a graduate student--
            *--FAQ's about Graduate School?
            *--A suggested timetable for the Application process
            *--Hints for increasing your competitiveness
______________________________________________________
 

Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant Tuition and Fees:
 Graduate teaching and research assistants receive a stipend (around $14,400 for masters and
                $17,000 for Ph.D. students presently), non-resident tuition waiver (you will pay in-state fees),
                health insurance, and a 10% bookstore discount.
 

Helpful Links on the required test for Graduate School programs:

     Graduate Record Exam (GRE) --the standardized test required for most graduate school
                        programs.  Two exams are available: General and Subject.  The General test is
                        the most often required test, is available on line, and provides subscores for skills
                        in 3 major areas (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical).  The Subject or
                        Advanced test is also required or recommended by many but not all graduate
                        programs.  Subject exams are given in a number of specialized fields including
                        Biology and test specific disciplinary knowledge.  Both exams are extraordinarily
                        rigorous and require significant preparation.  Do not use the first attempt at the
                        exam as 'practice'--a number of good practice materials can be found in your
                        college bookstore and are available through the testing agency itself.  Because
                 of the delay in scoring the exam, you should plan to take this exam by mid-fall
                 in the year before you hope to be attending graduate school.  Most schools
                        require these scores to make decisions on admission and financial aid
                        packages such as teaching/research assistantships and fellowships.
     Princeton Review --see the graduate school page for strategies and a free practice
                        GRE exam
     Kaplan's Online --various test taking information

     TOEFL - language test for international students

Helpful Links for Fellowships:

     University of Arizona-CONACyT Fellowships for students from Mexico
     University of Arizona Fellowships and External Sources
     American Society of Mammalogists Fellowships --another source of potential research funds for students
     George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowships --fellowships for Ph.D. climate change work in the NP's

     Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Fellowship --fellowship for wilderness study

     Loreal American Women in Science Graduate Fellowships--fellowship for US and international students
     National Science Foundation Student Research Opportunities
     Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship

Funding for Specific Student Research Projects
     American Museum of Natural History--Teddy Roosevelt and Frank Chapman Memorial Funds
     American Society of Mammalogists Grants-in-Aid of Research --another source of potential research funds for students
     Animal Behavior Society Grants
     Animal Behavior Society List of Conservation Oriented Grants
     Cleveland Zoological Society--a number of funding opportunities...for research in Latin and NAmerica, Africa, and Asia
     Conservation Endowment Fund --Association of Zoos and Aquariums
     Explorers Club Grants --provide grants for conducting field research
     National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Various and Sundry Grant Opportunities
     National Geographic Society Committee on Exploration and Research Awards
     National Geographic Society Young Explorer's Award

     Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife Conservation Grant --a variety of studies are funded
     Pittsburgh Zoo Conservation Fund --a couple of grant opportunities available...links to contact the director here
     Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research --provides grants for conducting scientific research
     Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Student Grants-in-Aid
     Southwestern Association of Naturalists--Howard McCarley Student Research Award
     T & E, Inc.
     University of Arizona Internal Funding
     Western National Parks Association
     Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship

Helpful Links on Graduate School Programs:

     NAGPS Survey of Graduate Students concerning Graduate Programs
     Peterson's Guide to Colleges
     Kaplan's Online --various test taking information
     gradschools.com --information on nearly 50,000 graduate programs
     U.S. News and World Report --various rankings and information
     College Net --general information and search capabilities for graduate schools
     Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond --a very helpful guide
                        available free on-line
     Links to Graduate School Programs in Ecology and Zoology

Helpful Sources of Information about Graduate School Life and
    Admissions:

     What every new graduate student should know... --suggestions from Indiana University
     How to be a good graduate student --a paper with helpful suggestions
     Princeton Review --a nice site for tips and general information

______________________________________________________
 Where to now?
            *--Back to Top
            *--Potential Projects--possible opportunities available in my research group
            *--Information on the UA and studies in Wildlife Conservation and Management
            *--My Lab Group
                 The Cast of Characters--Links to web pages of my graduate students
                 Journal Club--This week's readings*--Graduate Assistantships
            *--Graduate Assistantships
            *--The GRE
            *--Fellowships available for Graduate Study
            *--Funding for Research Projects
            *--Where do I get external information on Graduate Programs at the University of Arizona?
            *--Helpful hints on graduate school admissions and life as a graduate student--
            *--A suggested timetable for the Application process
            *--Hints for increasing your competitiveness
______________________________________________________

FAQ's about Graduate School

            What does Graduate School in general entail?

    The short answer is a ton of work-- often with only yourself as a motivator.  If you thoroughly enjoy the field of biology and working a problem through to an answer, then graduate school is a rewarding option.  Don't continue on just because someone else thinks you should or because you don't have any other options for employment.  Because self-motivation and a real enthusiasm for a topic are what will drive you to the successful completion of a graduate school experience, a half-hearted start is not likely to lead to success.  Although most degree programs require some coursework, much of your growth as a professional occurs outside the classroom during your research experiences.  Summer breaks in the academic schedule are typically viewed not as vacation periods but as opportunities for intensive research.
    Typically, 3 types of degrees are possible.  Some schools have two types of Masters degrees: a thesis and a non-thesis option; Masters degrees usually require 2-3 years for completion.  The non-thesis Masters (can be the M.A. or M.S. degree depending on the school) option typically requires only coursework and library research and is meant as a terminal degree for those not interested in continuing with biological research; a final written paper is often required.  The thesis Masters(M.S. degree) typically involves coursework as well as an independent research project that culminates in a substantial written document, the thesis, that is ready for publication.  Often written or oral exams are required as well.  The Doctor of Philosophy(Ph.D) also entails some coursework and an even more substantial research project usually over 4 to 6 years culminating in doctoral dissertation that often contains in several publishable chapters.  An oral and/or written comprehensive exam is typically required as is a final oral defense of your dissertation research.  Postdoctoral positions are often in academic departments as well and usually are focused on a continuation of research experiences above and beyond that obtained in pursuit of the doctorate; typically, although one might get academic credit for enrollment, postdoctoral positions are not formal degree experiences.
    As I mentioned, the primary emphasis in most graduate school experiences in on research. However, coursework often is taken on the advice of an advisory committee of faculty that you have assembled to mesh with your interests.  Some US schools and many foreign universities have no formal coursework requirements.  Courses taken usually focus on those necessary to round out the background, required to increase technical proficiency, or to make up for deficiencies in the undergraduate academic record.

            What are my career options with an advanced degree?

    Advanced degrees can be used in a number of ways but typically open the door for more research-intensive positions as well as those with teaching components.  The new skills and independence that are developed in graduate school will help in many avenues of life.  The job market is very tough, especially for academic positions.  Master's degrees typically keep open the option of a Ph.D. at some point and prepare you for work in the Biotech industry, administrative and management positions in State and Federal governments (research labs, environmental impact, forestry, wildlife and fisheries, parks), NGO's, lobbyists positions, and community college/lab instructor teaching positions.  The added research experience typically means that you might move into something other than an entry level position.  Although there are some research positions available with State and Federal agencies for individuals with a Master's degree, the opportunities for advancement maybe limited without a Ph.D.  If teaching at the postsecondary level is a goal, then you should seek as many teaching opportunities as possible while in graduate school.  A Ph.D. increases your competitiveness in the academic world but the market is still quite difficult--a postdoctoral research/teaching experience is often necessary.  Positions in biotech, federal/state agencies, NGO's, etc. are possibilities as well.  The Ph.D. will increase your competitiveness for research oriented positions where some sort of leadership role is expected; however, doctoral recipients may be less competitive or viewed as 'overqualified' for some positions due to the experience in independent research.

            How do I narrow my interests to select an appropriate program?

    Perhaps the most common question asked by students considering graduate school.  You probably know more than you think.  Start with determining what you are not jazzed about studying in graduate school.

        1. Do you prefer a certain level of organization (cell/molecular vs. community/ecosystem)?
        2. Do you prefer a certain taxonomic group? (fungi vs. animals, flowering plants vs.
                gymnosperms, fish vs. birds)?
        3. Do you prefer a certain research setting (laboratory vs. field, aquatic vs. terrestrial)?
        4. Do you prefer a certain level of analysis?:
                a) questions of mechanisms
                b) questions of physiological processes
                c) questions of developmental processes
                d) questions of survival value of a trait
                e) questions of evolutionary significance/phyogenetic affinity
        5. Do you prefer research on basic science or with an applied bent?

    Skim the table of contents of scientific journals to see what kinds of projects get you the most excited.  Visit websites of various schools to see what programs and courses are offered.  Talk to professors in the courses that you enjoyed the most.  Having very broad general interests in biology is a good thing and can be helpful in selecting an appropriate program.

            How do I select an appropriate program?

    Now is the time to do your homework.  Use the questions and sources noted above and examine programs in detail.  Are the courses of interest?  The course listing can often give you a feel for the focus of a program--lots of interesting courses mean that faculty have similar interests.  If you have somewhat broad interests, then use that to find a program that will enable you to be surrounded with faculty and students with a breadth of interests.  If you are more focused, then use that level of focus to ascertain the programs that are the strongest for you.  Try to find programs that have a number of people who are publishing in scientific journals and have active research groups in the area(s) that most interest you.   For instance, if you have strong interests in molecular biology and animal ecology, a program that has good molecular labs to hone your techniques in combination with a diverse ecology program in which you will be able to apply these techniques is what you might look for in a graduate school.  Such 'broad' interests may actually help you narrow your choices considerably more than if you were only interested in one of these subdisciplines.  The on-line sources listed above, the scientific journals, and your professors can assist you with finding such programs.
    Once you have identified programs of interest, write to obtain more information including a list of recent publications of the faculty.  This should help you hone your list even further.  From this point, you should contact individual faculty members preferably by letter.  Carefully craft a letter that states your interests and provides the details of your preparedness for graduate study, your familiarity with the faculty member to whom you are writing (read their publications), and expresses your interest in joining their research group.  Inquire if the faculty member anticipates any openings at the time that you would like to begin graduate studies.  Be certain to spend considerable time composing this letter and have a large number of people review and comment on your composition.  Remember, first impressions can be last impressions.  You are going to be one of dozens of people (at least) who are writing and you are trying to convince this person that you are a developing professional who would be a welcome addition to their research group.  The responses from these letters will narrow the choices considerably.
______________________________________________________
 Where to now?
            *--Back to Top
            *--Potential Projects--possible opportunities available in my research group
            *--Information on the UA and studies in Wildlife Conservation and Management
            *--My Lab Group
               The Cast of Characters--Links to web pages of my graduate students
                Journal Club--This week's readings*--Graduate Assistantships
            *--Graduate Assistantships
            *--The GRE
            *--Fellowships available for Graduate Study
            *--Funding for Research Projects
            *--Where do I get external information on Graduate Programs at the University of Arizona?
            *--Helpful hints on graduate school admissions and life as a graduate student--
            *--FAQ's about Graduate School?
            *--Hints for increasing your competitiveness
______________________________________________________

           How do I apply? A Timetable for the Application Process:

        You can never start too early is likely the best advice.  But here is a suggested timetable for you to follow.  I have geared the dates for a student coming directly out of undergraduate study who desires to start the fall semester after a spring semester graduation.

Junior Year (1.5 years prior to desired start date)--Spring semester
                         --Get started familiarizing yourself with potential graduate programs
                                1. Talk with faculty about what programs are appropriate
                                2. Use the Career Services office, this website, and the internet
                                       to learn about programs.
                                3. Review articles in journals and note schools/people of interest
                         --Contact departments/download information on programs from the Web.
                         --Plan test date and register for the GRE
                         --Study for the GRE exam over summer

Senior Year--September and October
                         --Compose a letter of inquiry and a statement of your career goals
                         --Request letters of recommendations and ask your writers to review your
                                letter and statement
                         --Utilize the Career Services office to review your letter of inquiry and statement of goals.
                                The Writing Center can also be very helpful here--the more comments the better in
                                helping you to craft the very best letter possible
                         --Take the GRE or other standardized exams
                         --Visit your Career Services office to learn more about strategies for financing your
                                graduate school experience.  The links above for Fellowships should also be a help.
                         --Send out letters of inquiry to faculty members with whom you are interested in working.
                                Respond to all letters that you receive in response to your inquiry.  Send a follow-up
                                letter if you do not receive a response from people with whom you are very interested
                                in working.  Faculty are very busy or may be on sabbatical or out of the country--don't
                                necessarily read too much into a slow or no response.  Be tactful in your second contact

                    November and December
                         --Request copies of transcripts be mailed
                         --Submit your applications early to maximize your competitiveness
                                for financial aid/fellowships/assistantships.
                         --Send a thank you note to prospective advisors that reaffirms your enthusiasm to join their
                                graduate program and alerts them that your application is on the way.
                         --Discuss potential fellowships that you might apply for with your prospective graduate advisors

      January through March
                         --Contact potential advisors or programs about visiting and interviewing.  Be sure to meet with other
                               current graduate students to get their impressions.
                         --Be certain to send a thank you note to those that helped you on your interview
                        --Complete the GAPSAF form available at your university's Career Services or Financial Aid
                                office or via the schools to which you are applying.

          April and May
        --If you are accepted, rejoice!  Discuss options with your undergraduate advisors/professors to
                                determine which option is best.
                         --Once you have made your final selection, inform all of the schools to which you have applied.  For
                                schools that you have not yet heard from a letter will suffice.  A personal phone call is appropriate
                                to the individuals with whom you have been accepted to work but opt to go elsewhere.
                         --Contact the professor with whom you decide to work and ask what you might do to prepare for the
                                fall.
                        --Prepare a bibliography on topics of interest so that you can hit the ground running and know the literature
                                when you arrive in graduate school.
                         --If you are not accepted, contact the people with whom you have corresponded and obtain feedback
                                on your application and assess what you can do to increase your competitiveness for the next
                                round of applications.  See the next category below for general hints.
______________________________________________________
 Where to now?
            *--Back to Top
            *--Potential Projects--possible opportunities available in my research group
            *--Information on the UA and studies in Wildlife Conservation and Management
            *--My Lab Group
                The Cast of Characters--Links to web pages of my graduate students
                Journal Club--This week's readings*--Graduate Assistantships
            *--Graduate Assistantships
            *--The GRE
            *--Fellowships available for Graduate Study
            *--Funding for Research Projects
            *--Where do I get external information on Graduate Programs at the University of Arizona?
            *--Helpful hints on graduate school admissions and life as a graduate student--
            *--FAQ's about Graduate School?
            *--A suggested timetable for the Application process
______________________________________________________

How do I maximize my competitiveness for admission? A few hints:

    1.  Remember to keep your curriculum vitae (resume) active by gaining as much experience as
                possible even with short duration volunteer experiences.  Check with local government
                agencies, parks, zoos, museums, universities, clinics, bio-oriented businesses and
                school systems for opportunities to keep active in biology.  While on campus, try to
                gain experience working or volunteering on research projects of your professors even
                if this initially means washing dishes.  Also, positions associated with the writing center,
                computer center, library, bio/chem lab preparation room, grounds crew, etc. can
                provide good experiences that demonstrate a commitment to a science oriented
                career.  Consider a position as a paid or unpaid research assistant to increase your
                experience in research.  If you have corresponded with a potential graduate advisor, you
                should ask if they have any such positions available this will give them a chance to get to
                know you and also give you valuable experience.
    2. Choose your courses carefully to demonstrate a rigorous undergraduate career--solid
                coursework in biology/environmental science is assumed but supporting courses
                in chemistry, math, physics, and computer science not only increase your
                academic breadth but also demonstrate to your potential advisor that you have
                had a rigorous undergraduate experience.  Also, consider taking meaningful support
                courses in speech/media/rhetoric, writing, geographic information systems,
                geology/geography, sociology, psychology, anthropology, politics, etc.  These
                courses will provide a more well rounded appearance to your academic career and
                help you demonstrate to graduate schools that you are a serious developing professional.
                Be sure to take courses that provide a solid foundation in biology in the broad sense.
    3. Obtain as much research experience as possible--any experience that you can be it paid or
                volunteer will be helpful.  Not only will this experience enable you to speak with authority
                when you discuss your future goals in a letter or interview but it will also help solidify
                your goals and allow you to convey your interests with conviction.  Choose courses that
                have a significant research component in them so that you can gain experience and further
                substantiate your interest in conducting biological research.  Conduct a research oriented
                senior thesis or independent study project that is focused on your area of interest.  Attempt
                to publish your research findings.
    4. Join a professional society/organization--each subdiscipline of biology has a least one
                and often many journals associated with it.  Many of these journals are supported
                by a professional society.  Members of that society get the journal and newsletter.
                These publications allow you to keep up with changes in the field and also
                job openings while demonstrating that you are in fact interested in the field.  Most
                societies have a special student rate as well.  Ask your professors which societies
                are the most pertinent and 'student/recent graduate friendly'.  Attend society meetings
                and participate in student chapter activities etc.
    5.   Take the GRE very seriously and study accordingly--while graduate schools look at the entire application
                package, solid GRE scores will open doors that might otherwise be closed to you.  Use
                a good introductory biology textbook and study it from cover to cover.  Study guides and
                practice tests available for purchase or through the GRE On-line are very helpful and will
                enable you to take the exam and feel comfortable with the style of questions and the
                breadth of material.  Oh...and did I say study--I cannot say this enough.  Put the time in
                to give yourself the best possible chance of doing well and flaunting your stuff.  I would
                recommend a minimum of 6 weeks of high powered, full-time studying.  If you are taking classes
                simultaneously then you should adjust accordingly.
    6. Carefully craft your cover letter and curriculum vitae to demonstrate a logical progression
                in your growth as a professional.--remember first impressions can be last impressions.
                Your letter should be the very best that you are capable of writing.  Be certain to
                have a number of people who you trust to give you a brutally honest review look over
                and comment on your cover letter.  Make use of the writing center and career services
                office.

           How do I finance the graduate study?

        Graduate study can be expensive and a visit to your institution's financial aid office and career services
 office will enable you to assess different possibilities to fund your continued study.  However, the vast majority
 of graduate programs in biology offer teaching and research assistantships at the time of acceptance (or soon after).
  In exchange for teaching labs or working in a lab, graduate students typically receive a stipend that will enable you
 to cover living expenses and also pay your tuition so that you are only responsible for general fees, health
insurance, etc.  Discuss financial aid options with prospective graduate advisors.  Unless you are only moderately
competitive, you should expect to receive an offer similar to what I have just described and graduate school in
biology should not make you wealthy but you will be able to cover your living costs and break even.

 

Updated 1 Feb 11
John L. Koprowski
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