The Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution
The Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University was one of the
first of its kind in the world and its graduates over the last four decades have become
some of the leading and best known biologists in these disciplines.
24 faculty members belong to the program
and study topics ranging from molecular evolution to ecosystem organization, including
molecular genetic mechanisms of adaptation and evolution, the distributions and abundances
of species in communities and ecosystems, and the influence of global change on individual
species to ecosystems. Approaches to this research include fieldwork, laboratory experimentation,
genomic analyses, mathematical and simulation modeling, and statistical analyses.
Ecology and Evolution offers both a Masters of Arts in Biological Sciences
with a Concentration in Applied Ecology and Evolution and a Doctoral Degree
in Ecology and Evolution. The program currently has approximately 50 graduate students studying
towards these degrees, (40 PhD students and 10 MA students). Our master's program in applied ecology
and evolution is intended to address the need for professionals in environmental sciences at federal,
state, county, and other levels of government, as well as in environmental departments of large
industrial companies and smaller environmental consulting firms. Conservation and environmental
protection groups also seek qualified individuals. Our doctoral program is a research degree which
can focus on a range of applied and theoretical questions in ecology and evolution. Many of our Ph.D.
students go on to become Faculty/Principle Investigators at major research universities, while others
are employed as environmental consultants or work on policy issues around the country and in Washington, D.C.
Applying to the Ph.D. Program
Before you apply to the doctoral program, you are strongly advised to contact a faculty member.
First, review the research interests and publications of the program faculty
and identify one or two faculty members whose interests coincide with yours. Then, contact the faculty
member with a detailed description of specific research questions that interest you, your educational
and research background, and any special skills, training or experience you may have. Ask if the faculty
member would be interested in being your temporary advisor. Students apply for, and are admitted to,
the program, not to specific research labs. However, prior contact with and support of a faculty member
would increase your chances of being admitted to the program.
Application Materials and Deadlines
Application forms can be downloaded from the Graduate School website or you can apply on-line at
Application forms can also be obtained by contacting the Ecology and Evolution departmental office (631-632-8600) or by writing to the
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Ecology and Evolution
Stony Brook University
650 Life Sciences Bldg.
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245
You may also email the Ecology and Evolution department's
Besides completing the application form, applicants will need to provide
(1) official transcripts of undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate course work,
(2) official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (Stony Brook's code for score reporting is 2548),
(3) three letters of recommendation, (4) and a non-refundable application free of $100.00.
(Please note that applications will not be processed without the $100.00 fee.)
The deadline for receipt of all Ph.D. application materials is January 15th.
Earlier submissions are encouraged, particularly for those wishing to be considered for Campus Wide
Graduate Council Fellowships
and W. Burghardt Turner Fellowships. Funding cannot
be guaranteed to successful applicants whose materials arrive after the deadline. Prospective students
are encouraged to address specific questions to the Director of Graduate Studies at the above address
or to contact faculty members whose work they find interesting.
The Program does not have any absolute requirements for admission. Current graduate students represent
a wide variety of academic backgrounds, nationalities, and research interests. Admission to the Program
is quite competitive, and applicants are advised to make alternative plans in the event that they do
not receive an offer of admission.
What to Expect if You Are Admitted
The first year
Incoming graduate students arrive on campus at least a week before the beginning of the Fall semester
to enroll in classes and attend various orientation sessions. During their first year, graduate students
take three core courses: Principles of Ecology, Principles of Evolution, and Biometry
(see brief descriptions of these courses).
Each student meets with the Entering Student Advisory Committee during the Fall semester to discuss the
student's research objectives, academic background, and prior research experience. Based on these factors,
the Committee makes recommendations concerning additional coursework that may be needed to prepare the
student for his or her thesis research and later career as an independent scientist.
During the first semester, a Monday evening "show-and-tell" (BEE 556) features presentations by all the
faculty members in the Program. This series of informal get-togethers helps to acquaint new graduate
students with the range of research opportunities within the Program, and provides a chance to meet
Toward the end of the first semester there is a written preliminary exam designed to broadly assess
knowledge in the basic principles in ecology and evolution. The core first year courses, as well as
independent reading, are expected provide preparation for the preliminary exam.
There is no formal lab rotation requirement. Many students, however, begin research projects during
the first year under the direction of faculty members with whom they are interested in working.
Following completion of the formal course requirements of the first year, the primary focus
becomes each student's own research. Most students, however, take additional courses offered
by the Program, and occasionally other courses offered on campus. Courses regularly offered
through the Department of Ecology and Evolution are listed,
Second and Later Years
During the second year, students are expected to formalize a relationship with a Program
faculty member who will serve as their permanent advisor. The permanent Advisory Committee
for each student includes at least two additional Program faculty members. Students meet
with their Advisory Committee at regular intervals to discuss their research and their
progress towards fulfilling degree requirements.
During the fall semester of the second year, students write the '2nd year essay', which is
a thorough review of a specific topic of interest. This paper is expected to contain original
insights and synthesis by the student. A number of these essays have been published by students
in the past. Students often use the 2nd year essay as an opportunity to deeply explore
the subject area in which they plan to perform their Ph.D. dissertation research.
Throughout the second and later years, graduate students are required to enroll in one seminar
course each year. Four such courses are offered each year, two each in the general areas of
ecology and evolution (see course list for additional information).
Throughout their graduate careers, students are required to attend the Department's weekly
colloquium (BEE 671) on Wednesday afternoons. The colloquium features speakers visiting from
outside the University, who present their research results. Many of the luminaries in the fields
of ecology and evolution eventually make their way to our doors. Evening receptions follow most
colloquium presentations, and provide an opportunity for students to meet informally with visiting
scientists. Graduate students may suggest speakers they wish to invite, and often play an active
role in hosting speakers.
All graduate students are required to complete at least two semesters as a Teaching Assistant.
Ecology and Evolution Ph.D. Program students play key roles in teaching many of the lecture and
laboratory courses in biology at Stony Brook. Many opportunities for professional development in
teaching are available, including lecturing and development of curriculum. Teaching Assistantships
are one of the most common sources of salary support for our Ph.D. students.
State University of New York at Stony Brook is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer.