Barrett lab summer party Aug 2008
If you are interested in
joining the Barrett Lab and are qualified, read on. I would like to take on 2-3
graduate students and a post-doctoral fellow (PDF) during 2011/2. Students with
a background in ecology and evolutionary biology and an interest in conducting
molecular and genomic work are especially welcome. However, students with
strengths in other areas will also be considered. If you are interested please
e-mail me and send a CV and a statement of why you would like to do research in
my lab. Below I outline my general philosophy of graduate student training and
mentorship. For specific research projects that are currently available for
graduate students and PDFs in 2011/2012 go to the
RESEARCH section of my website.
Graduate student training – general philosophy
I have trained 26 graduate
students during my tenure at University of Toronto (11 M.Sc. and 15 Ph.D.). Many of my former students have
gone on to become university faculty (see lab alumni) and are making important
contributions in their own fields. I take graduate student training very
seriously and I consider it the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspect of being
an academic, aside from research itself. I have had the fortune to have some
outstanding students and I have learnt much from my collaborations with them.
My philosophy of graduate
student supervision is quite simple and involves several general principles.
These vary to some extent depending on whether the student is
enrolled in a M.Sc. or Ph.D. program. My preference is to take on Ph.D.
students but I am also willing to supervise M.Sc. students. My general
experience has been that every student is different and that supervisors should
adjust their supervisory style depending on the student’s background and degree
of independence. I am proud to say that I have never had a student drop out and
all my students have completed their theses.
For a Ph.D. student I
usually: 1) provide a range of potential thesis topics that fit a student’s
overall interest, usually 3-5 general problems are discussed initially. Over a
period of time these are narrowed down to 1-2 questions. I am also happy to
entertain projects that the student might suggest, so long as they are
feasible, can be funded by my NSERC grant, and are sufficiently original to
warrant intensive study; 2) I provide the necessary academic, financial and
logistical support to conduct the thesis research throughout the duration of
the program; 3) after the first 1-2 years, and once the research questions are
formulated and the study system is worked out, I encourage the student to take
full ‘ownership’ of the project and develop new avenues and questions related
to the problem; 4) Students in my laboratory normally publish 4-6 journal
articles from their thesis and I work with them to improve their paper writing
abilities, and to ensure that they publish papers as they go along. This
enables them to be in a better position on graduation to obtain post-doctoral
or academic positions; 5) I encourage my students to develop collaborations
with other faculty and students and many papers from my laboratory reflect
this. I also like to involve graduate students in book chapters and reviews
that I am working on if they are interested and have the time.
For M.Sc. students I
usually use the same overall approach except that because of the much shorter
duration of the program I encourage students to work during their first summer
as a research assistant in my lab and focus their interests. It is important to
settle on a problem fairly quickly in the M.Sc. program so that by the end the
first term a tractable question has been decided upon and research has commenced.
Every year I hire between
3-5 undergraduates to assist with the research projects being conducted in the
lab. Most of these are hired
during the summer months (May 1 – August 31). I sometimes also hire
students during term time on a “as needed” basis.
Finally, I am always interested in committed and conscientious volunteers and
if performance is satisfactory this can lead to being hired as a paid assistant
during the summer months. If you are interested in any of these possibilities
e-mail me and send a resume and short statement as to why you would like to
work in the lab.