The Coastal and Wetlands Ecology lab offers opportunities for Ph.D. studies in the fields of wetland restoration and mangrove-marsh ecology. Accomplished students with classroom and field ecology experience are encouraged to contact Dr. Armitage for consideration. Top priority will be given to students with a M.S. degree at or near completion, or students with independent undergraduate research experience.
TAMUG offers a competitive range of funding options, including in-house scholarships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. The Department of Marine Biology at TAMUG is housed in a new, state-of-the-art research facility that features waterfront facilities, a sea water laboratory, and a fleet of research vehicles. The Coastal and Wetlands Ecology laboratory is part of an active research network that includes domestic and international colleagues, providing many opportunities for networking and collaboration. Competitive applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Armitage for more information.
I am considering applications for graduate study from accomplished and motivated students who are interested in studying the ecology of coastal communities. Most funding and project options are for Ph.D. students, though I will consider M.S. applications from exceptional students.
Coastal wetlands support a diverse and unique assemblage of plants, invertebrates, shorebirds, fish, and mammals, and are exciting places to conduct basic and applied ecological research. Students in my lab address a wide variety of ecological questions, and I am open to discussing new research ideas that you’d like to explore. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are three program options for graduate study in my lab:
What is the first step in finding the right graduate school?
When should I first contact potential advisors?
Should I visit the lab in person, or is a phone interview sufficient?
What funding is available to support me in graduate school?
What are the differences between the MARB IDP, EEB, and ESSM graduate programs?
What is the minimum GPA/GRE that I need to get into graduate school?
When is the application deadline for graduate school?
Can I work at another part-time or full-time job while in graduate school?
You should select a graduate program based on the research you will be doing, the advisor, and the potential for securing funding. The school itself and the location are secondary considerations. So, the first step is to find potential advisors whose research interests you. Look up recent journal articles and peruse faculty websites. Contact professors by e-mail to inquire if they are considering applications from new students. Indicate when you would like to start school and whether you will be a master’s or Ph.D. student. Include a CV that contains your GPA and GRE scores (if you have them). Tailor your email to that individual professor’s research interests, and proofread it to make sure it is grammatically correct and concise – remember, this will be the advisor’s first impression of you. Be sure that you spell the advisor’s name correctly – you’d be surprised how often I get inquiries with my name spelled wrong!
Contact professors about one year before you would like to start a graduate program.
I always recommend a visit in person to schools you are serious about, if at all possible. It’s a good idea to meet with the advisor to find out more about his/her personality and work ethic, talk with other graduate students about the lab and the graduate program, and see the facilities that are available for research. There are travel grants available through TAMU/TAMUG to defray some of the travel expenses incurred by potential students. I typically conduct first interviews by Skype, and then obtain travel grants for top applicants to visit the campus in person.
Students in my lab are supported by a variety of funding sources, including university fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and graduate student fellowships from state and federal agencies. For new students, I typically put together a funding package that combines fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships to provide support for at least the first two years of the degree program. Beyond that time period, funding options are discussed on a case-by-case basis. I also encourage students (especially Ph.D. students) to apply for external fellowships. Some places to start looking include:
The differences between the three programs are primarily related to course offerings and fellowship opportunities:
MARB IDP program: Students are in residence in Galveston for the entire degree program. Courses are offered on the Galveston campus or via distance at institutions like TAMU-Corpus Christi or TAMU-College Station.
There are internal one- or two-year fellowship opportunities for incoming students in this graduate program, particularly for Ph.D. students. Some additional support is likely through teaching assistantships.
EEB program: The EEB program requires a one-year sequence of core classes while in residence in College Station. This program also has weekly journal club meetings, seminars, and student "shop talks". After the first year, students in the Armitage lab will move to Galveston to conduct their research.
Students in the EEB program are eligible for TAMU Graduate Merit Fellowships, TAMU Graduate Diversity Fellowships, and TAMUG 2-year Competitive Graduate Fellowships; incoming students must receive one of these awards to support the one-year residency in College Station. Most of the application deadlines for those fellowships are in the late fall/early winter and are for students starting studies in the following fall semester.
ESSM program: Many students take 1 (M.S.) or 2 (Ph.D.) semesters of classes in College Station but do their field and laboratory work in Galveston. Some students choose to live in College Station for the first 1-2 semesters and then move to Galveston afterwards to conduct their research. However, it is not required to take classes in physical residence at College Station. Some College Station courses are offered online, or classes can be taken exclusively at Galveston. However, there is a much wider variety of courses available in College Station than in Galveston, so residence time up there is worth serious consideration. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive between Galveston and College Station, one way. Although that is a long drive, there is a lot of flexibility in when and where you can take graduate classes.
Students in the ESSM program are eligible for TAMU Graduate Merit Fellowships, TAMU Graduate Diversity Fellowships, and TAMUG 2-year Competitive Graduate Fellowships. Most of the application deadlines for those fellowships are in the late fall/early winter and are for students starting studies in the following fall semester.
A strong GPA and GRE score will reflect favorably on your application, but there is no set minimum criteria for GPA or GRE scores. Rather, I review the application package as a whole. I particularly look at the applicant’s statement of interest – is it coherent, well thought out, and well written? I am not necessarily looking for a specific research plan, but some thought needs to be given to why my lab would be a good place for the student to pursue their interests.
Most TAMU/TAMUG fellowships have deadlines in the late fall or early winter, and those students who have completed their graduate school applications are best able to compete for those fellowships. Each graduate program has different fellowship and application due dates. For the EEB and ESSM programs, the priority deadline for graduate applications to my lab is December 15 for fall admission. For the MARB IDP program, the application deadline is February 15. Although applications may still be considered after those dates, funding opportunities and space are not guaranteed.
For thesis students who will be actively engaged in a research project, I do not typically encourage this option. Graduate research is a big time commitment, and it is often difficult to make timely progress on a research project while holding down an outside job. The best scenario for graduate students is to obtain funding from school-related teaching or research assistantships or from graduate fellowships. Occasionally, a student will have an outside job that is directly related to their research project. In those cases a compromise can sometimes be made, but details would need to be worked out on a case-by-case basis.