October 2013

To prospective graduate students

Thank you for your interest in graduate work at the Bren School at UCSB. You will find more information about the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at http://www.bren.ucsb.edu  and about my students, staff, research projects and publications at http://www.biogeog.ucsb.edu.

At the Bren School I teach graduate courses in Applied Ecology, Landscape Ecology, Conservation Planning, and Biodiversity Field Survey Methods. Research in my lab is concerned with large-scale patterns in and controls on the distribution of species and with developing strategies for conserving native biodiversity. We make heavy use of digital remote sensing, GIS, and spatial analytical methods to conduct this research.

Since July 2011 I have been the Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in downtown Santa Barbara. As a result, I have had to cut back on my teaching and research.

UCSB is an exciting place to be a graduate student in environmental science and management. Between the Bren School, top departments like EEMB (Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology) and Geography, research centers like the Marine Science Institute and NCEAS and local field stations in the UC Natural Reserve System, you will find a wealth of training and research opportunities.

Research directions in the Biogeography Lab

For the next several years I anticipate pursuing the following lines of research in my lab:

Bringing conservation science and geographical analysis to regional and local land use planning.

Land use planning to conserve and manage scarce natural resources is an ever more important but contentious process. Bringing better knowledge about the distribution and ecology of species and ecosystems into this process is essential and especially challenging for agroecosystems. With funding from the California Energy Commission we are modeling developing new approaches to modelling cumulative impacts of large-scale solar energy development in the California deserts.

Biotic response to climate change in California

In 2011 the National Science Foundation funded a 5-year collaborative research effort to examine the relationships between topographically controlled microclimatic variation, variation in tree species establishment and growth, and microscale-to-regional impacts of climate change. This project, Do microenvironments govern macroecology?, is now in full swing. A summary is available here.

Student life in the Biogeography Lab

The lab currently includes 3 PhD students (2 in residence) and 2 postdoctoral researchers (1 in residence).  We collaborate with many other individuals on campus and from around the world, and often have one or more domestic or international scholars in residence.

Every student is provided with a work station and networked desktop computer. Normally students are supported on research grants or fellowships, although occasionally students are employed as teaching assistants or instructors on campus and several have been employed as research assistants at the NCEAS.

At this time I do not anticipate taking on any new Ph.D. students in Fall 2014, but that could change depending on the level of my research funding. In evaluating applicants I consider educational background, research interests, academic record and letters of reference. The Biogeography Lab is very much a team effort and I am looking for students who are excited by scientific research and who enjoy working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting.

In general, because of the high cost of out-of-state tuition, I do not admit foreign students unless they have some financial support. Also, I do not admit Master's students, but do advise students and groups in the Bren School's MESM program.

Admission to the Bren School is ultimately decided by our graduate admission committees. I would encourage you to consult the Bren School website and to contact the graduate coordinator to learn more about application procedures. If possible, I would also encourage you to visit the campus and the Biogeography Lab.

Again, thanks for your interest.