I will typically only accept a student when funding for an assistantship becomes available. These assistantships are competitive and often come from state or federal resource management agencies. Therefore, the research my students conduct is applied to help solve resource management questions. Student who may be interested in pursuing a MS or PhD under my direction should contact me directly before applying to the university to determine ifI have a position available.
The suggested minimum requirements for a graduate student is a 3.2 undergraduate GPA in the last 60 semester hours, and a verbal and quantitative score on the GRE in the upper 50%ile. Students with skills and interest that strongly fit a project, and have past research and communication experience (e.g., presentation or paper or poster at meeting, publications) are the most competitive. Stipends do vary based on the funding from the agencies. Most of the MS assistantships I have are about $21,842 annually and PhD assistantships are about $24.036 annually. In addition, tuition and insurance is covered under the grant, but the student will have to pay fees.
I make every attempt to make the graduate school experience for my students as memorable and useful as possible. I look at graduate school as a job and the student will be provided all the equipment and facilities needed for the job. This typically includes a computer, vehicle for field use, all field and lab supplies, funding for technicians, suitable office space, and other needed resources.
I encourage my students to attend and present at professional society (e.g., American Fisheries Society) meetings, as well as involvement in these societies (e.g., committees, manuscript reviews, workshops, officer in society, etc.). I typically provide funding for the students to attend meetings when they present their research or are involved in a committee at the meeting. This usually includes at least three meetings (state chapter AFS, Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, national AFS meeting) but can be more. I will provide all travel expenses to these meetings including per diem. In addition, it is not uncommon for undergraduate technicians working with a student to be funded to attend these meetings.
Mike Quist, a close colleague, and I have been raised onder the same type of philosophy about grdauate school. Although specific requirments and facilities may differ at different schools, hisr philosophy about graduate is similar to mine:
The School of Natural Resources has about 42 faculty with interest in fisheries and wildlife, forestry, soil and atmospheric sciences, and parks, recreation, tourism, and sport. This includes several new faculty hires in applied ecology related to water reources and wildlife. The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units is a nationwide program that specializes in applied natural resource research and graduate student training. The Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is housed in the School of Natural Resources, and is an agreement with the university, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the US Geological Survey, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Wildlife Management Institute. The Missouri Coop Unit has 2 faculty (with an additional faculty position currently vacant), and about 20 graduate students and research staff that focus on fisheries and aquatic ecology and management, climate change, bat and pollinator conservation, and wetland/waterfowl ecology.
Columbia is a hub for natural resources. The state agency (Missouri Department of Conservation) has a research center just off campus. The Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (MoRAP) is a program within the School of Natural Resources and has worked on various landscape level and GIS analysis projects. The US Geological Survey has a large campus of ecologists and is the main science center for USGS in the Midwest. They have expertise in ecology, river science, and environmental toxicology, including a branch specializing in river studies. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a large office in Columbia with a dozen or so fish biologists focused on conservation or large river fishes and endangered fisheries conservation.
The town of Columbia is a population of about 100,000 and is about 2 hours from Kansas City and St Louis. It’s a hub for colleges and universities (3 in the city) and health care, and considered one of the best places in the Midwest for living (education, culture, health care, cost of living). The topography is a transition from rolling hills and agriculture land to the north and the Ozarks and rolling hills with large forests to the south. The heart of the Ozarks is 1-2 hours south including wild and scenic rivers. Columbia has national forest within 10 minutes.