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Graduate Students

The WECOS Lab is grateful to receive more than a dozen enquiries each month about joining the lab.  Emails often vary greatly in their effectiveness, a reflection of both fit and communication style. Please consider the following:


Fit: Do you really want to commit 2-3 years to pursuing conceptually rich and rigorous conservation ecology-focused research? Or do you really want to be in wonderful places to safeguard wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they depend? Are you passionate about making a significant contribution to advance our understanding of the natural world or helping us better understand the myriad ways in which humans are both helping and hindering biodiversity conservation? We receive many emails from prospective students that primarily or exclusive express an interest in participating in research focused on a particular taxa. Often prospective students are keen to “work on bears and other carnivores.” Often missing from student inquiries is a statement of conceptual or scientific motivation. Specifically, we want to know what eco-evolutionary or conservation-focused questions inspire you to seek a graduate education and how receiving a gradaute education will help prepare you for the career to which you aspire. If succinctly articulating your scholarly research interests is unappealing to you, then you may not be prepared for the intellectual rigors or personal commitment required to be successful in graduate school at this time. The good news: if you focus on conducting conceptually rich, socially just, and ecologically meaningful science, you will have incredible opportunities to spend time in special places and contribute towards positive change in our shared world.


Communication Style: The WECOS Lab manages a great many emails in each week. If you are a good fit,  your email will capture our attention if you express yourself well. Please write clearly, professionally, and concisely to express your motivation for pursuing a graduate education. Attach the following documents to your email as a single PDF with a file name that starts with your last name (e.g., Lafferty_Diana): (1) your CV, (2) undergraduate transcripts, and (3) evidence of your scholarly achievements/potential (e.g., Honors thesis, peer-reviewed paper in which you are 1st author, grant proposal, science-focused class paper/term paper).


We hope this helps, and The WECOS Lab looks forward to hearing from you (


Undergraduate Students

Many undergraduate students conduct or contribute to research in The WECOS Lab. In fact, The WECOS Lab provides research opportunities for McNair Scholars and Freshman Fellows as well as through Directed Studies and Undergraduate Independent Research. In addition, The WECOS Lab offers numerous opportunities for diverse students to gain valuable research experience by volunteering on current graduate and undergraduate research projects. All students are welcome!


Due to demand, I ask that prospective undergraduate researchers meet the following criteria:

1)    Must be a current NMU student.

2)    Must have successfully completed Principles of Ecology (BI 210) with a grade of C or higher. If you are a transfer student, you must have completed     

       an equivalent course with a grade of a C or higher.

3)    Write a 250-500 word personal statement expressing your interest in ecology/conservation-focused research and describe why you think that  

       participating with The WECOS Lab will benefit you academically and personally, and describe any research or relevant work/volunteer experience

       that demonstrates your interest in ecology and conservation.

4)    Have a referral from a Biology faculty member or teaching assistant (TA).

5)    Send your personal statement to Dr. Lafferty at with the subject heading: WECOS Lab Application (student name).

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