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The Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Dartmouth College encompasses all areas of ecology, evolutionary biology and related disciplines. The programs seeks to train highly qualified and motivated students for productive careers in research and teaching through completion of a Ph.D. degree.
The core faculty in the program are ecologists and evolutionary biologists in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Environmental Studies Program. Close collaboration exists with other biologists in the Department of Biological Sciences and various departments in Dartmouth Medical School, as well with colleagues in the Earth Sciences and Geography Departments and the Thayer School of Engineering. Overall, a thriving community of faculty and students engage in graduate education and research in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Each graduate student assembles their own advisory committee to match their interests and aspirations. The advisory committee is generally comprised of the major advisor plus two other faculty members within the EEB/EEES program at Dartmouth College. The advisory committee works closely with students to facilitate and guide all aspects of the graduate program. The advisory committee is not fixed and is frequently altered to match the direction of student programs.
Each student, in consultation with his/her advisory committee, develops a research proposal of their planned doctoral research. This is the intellectual core of a Ph.D. in the EEB program, and much of our academic environment is devoted to developing skills in conceiving tractable research projects that will generate important new knowledge about nature. The written proposal generally follows the guidelines for National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (including Summary, Introduction, Significance, Research Plan, Feasibility, Schedule, and Bibliography). The objective is to develop an efficient, theoretically compelling, logically cohesive and logistically feasible line of research. Proposals are presented orally to the EEB community (usually at an EELunch, usually in the latter part of the 2nd year), and defended in a meeting with the advisory committee. Normally proposals are submitted to funding sources (e.g., NSF, EPA, etc.), and frequently they are funded.
Ph.D.'s are granted based upon the successful completion of a significant body of original research that contributes to general knowledge within ecology and evolutionary biology. Throughout the program, student progress is facilitated by regular meetings with the advisory committee, individual meetings with faculty, modest coursework, and copious, less structured interactions with colleagues at all levels. When the student and the committee agree that the thesis is near completion, the student schedules a public defense of the dissertation to be followed by a meeting with the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee includes an internationally respected scholar from outside of Dartmouth College. Typically, graduate students will have already published a part of their thesis research in peer-reviewed journals at the time of their defense (student publications). Graduate programs are expected to be completed within five years.
The main focus of graduate students in the EEB program is planning, conducting, and publishing important original research. Consequently, requirements for formal coursework are minimal (only 8 courses during the entire program), and each student develops their own curriculum in consultation with their advisory committee to compliment their research program and match their long term professional interests. The curriculum is dynamic to match evolving interests within the program. There is a departmental seminar each Friday afternoon during the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. Topics cover the breadth of contemporary biology. Seminar speakers are productive and creative scientists from around the world that are selected to bring expertise and insights that are of special interest to the department. EEB graduate students are actively involved in choosing and hosting the visiting scholars, usually with an eye towards developing long term collegial relations with established scientists who have similar interests. Normally, visits last for a couple of days and there are generous opportunities for graduate students to meet formally and informally with guests. Immediately following the seminars, there are beverages, snacks, and informal interactions (TGIF) with the guest and among members of the extended department.
Many of our alumni go on to professional positions that include teaching. Consequently, the EEB graduate program includes training and experience in education. Students typically collaborate with faculty as Teaching Assistants (TAs) in one class during one or two academic quarters per year. Faculty work individually with their graduate student TAs to cultivate their professional development as educators. Many graduate students meet part of their teaching requirements by participating as Teaching Assistants in the Biology Foreign Studies Program, which involves full immersion ecological research within the stunning natural systems of Costa Rica and the Caribbean.
Advancement to candidacy in the EEB Ph.D. programs involves passing a qualifying examination. The exam includes written and oral components that test knowledge and problem solving skills in the broad domain of ecology and evolution. The examining committee includes an internationally respected scholar from outside Dartmouth College who is chosen by the student in consultation with their committee. The opportunity to engage the expertise of these outside examiners is consistently cited by our alumni as a key to their professional development during and after the Dartmouth graduate program. The qualifying exam is normally taken at the end of the second or early in the third year of graduate study.
Admission is based on appraisal of the applicant's undergraduate academic record, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, previous involvement in research or other activities which indicate a strong commitment to graduate study, and the applicant's statement of his or her goals. The advanced tests in Biology are strongly suggested.It is expected that all entering graduate students will have had at least one year each of physics and college-level mathematics including calculus and probability, two years of chemistry (general and organic), and at least two years of biology, with courses in appropriate fields of specialization (e.g., ecology and evolutionary biology). Deficiencies in basic undergraduate courses may be remedied in the first year of graduate school.
The application fee is $25.00.
All students maintaining satisfactory academic status receive financial support for up to five years. This includes a 12-month stipend of approximately $27,720/ annum, health insurance, a full tuition scholarship, and a discretionary fund of ~$2,000 / annum for research, travel, books, etc. Support is for five years given satisfactory progress. Teaching responsibilities are modest and rewarding (one class during each of one or two 10-week quarters per year); for many students, this includes teaching on our Foreign Studies Program in Costa Rica and Little Cayman Island. Students supported by faculty research assistantships typically have reduced teaching commitments and increased research responsibilities. Students are also strongly encouraged to seek external funding for their work through fellowships (e.g., NSF or EPA) and grants (NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant). Students who obtain external fellowships have reduced teaching responsibilities.
Highly qualified graduate students may be eligible for a GAANN Fellowship with annual stipend of up to $30,000.