September 2013

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

Thanks for your interest in the Collinge lab! The purpose of this letter is to provide some basic information regarding my research program, possibilities for prospective students, and some background on the two graduate programs with which I am involved at CU-Boulder, the Environmental Studies (ENVS) ( program and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology ( graduate program.  After reading this letter, please browse the rest of the Collinge lab web site and then contact me with further information about you and your research interests, including a CV or resume and a brief statement of purpose.

I currently serve as the primary advisor for three Ph.D. students, one MA student, and one BA/MA student.  My current students conduct independent and integrated research related to conservation biology, restoration ecology, and the integration of ecological processes with human values and policies. My current research, funded by an NSF LTREB grant, is focused on vernal pool plant community ecology and restoration, which is based at my long-term field site at Travis Air Force Base, California.

For Fall 2014, I plan to recruit students to work directly on this project in the areas of mathematical modeling of population and community dynamics, pollination ecology, and curricular development and evaluation for elementary school audiences. If you are interested in disease ecology, which is an interest of mine but with which I am not currently working, I recommend that you contact Pieter Johnson or Valerie McKenzie in EBIO, who have active research programs in this area.

The ENVS and the EBIO graduate programs differ primarily in the extent to which they cross disciplinary boundaries.  The ENVS program is explicitly designed for students who wish to conduct original research that integrates disciplines that have traditionally not been well integrated.  For example, students may wish to link western history and conservation biology in a study of human motivations and patterns of land use change.  Or students may wish to explore the links between economics and hydrology in the Front Range of Colorado.  In the context of my laboratory, an ENVS student project might focus on the links between local, state, and federal policy in relation to vernal pool species protection.  The EBIO graduate program focuses on research and training in evolutionary biology and ecology.  For example, students in this program may use both molecular techniques and field experiments to ask questions about genetics of rare plant populations.  Or students may explore relationships between community structure and ecosystem function.  So, depending on the type of career path you envision for yourself, you should choose a graduate program appropriately.  I currently serve as primary advisor for two graduate students in the ENVS program and three graduate students in the EBIO program.

Finally, it is my hope to make a positive contribution toward increased diversity of students and faculty in the fields of ecology and environmental studies.  I especially encourage members of underrepresented groups in ecology and environmental studies to apply to our graduate programs.  Thanks again for your interest in my research program, and I look forward to hearing more from you!



Sharon Collinge