Greetings prospective students! I am always open to considering applications from talented, dedicated students interested in earning Master’s or Ph.D. degrees in Biology to join our lab.

If you're interested, please email me at ajdarrouzetnardi@utep.edu.


I am interested in recruiting a Ph.D. student to work on a funded proposal focused on dryland critical zones. Here is the recruitment information for the project:

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is recruiting Ph.D. students to work on a recently funded 'Critical Zone Thematic Cluster' grant to study carbon fluxes, ecohydrology, and nutrient availability in the carbonate-dominated soils of dryland ecosystems. The critical zone is the surface layer of the Earth from the top of the canopy to the groundwater that supports human life. This NSF-funded project is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and focuses on field-based investigations in Texas, New Mexico, and Idaho. PhD students will have an opportunity to work as part of an integrated scientific team of faculty at UTEP and other collaborative institutions, and foster connections within the scientific community centered around critical zone science.

Funding is available to cover stipends, project supplies, and travel costs. Ideal candidates would have substantial research experience and interest in geology, biology, or environmental sciences, strong communication skills, strong performance in science courses, and a desire to do field work. We especially encourage students interested in working on interdisciplinary topics that cross these fields of study. Ph.D. students on this project will initially work with our team on grant objectives, which they will then springboard into projects of their own independent design.

I also have a second opportunity. I'm interested in a master's student that could do some microbial analyses on samples from 50 and 100 m deep cores that we drilled as part of the above-mentioned critical zone project. This is a nice self-contained project with already-collected samples that would be perfect for a master's student. If you are interested in doing this, please reach out.

For this work, potential students should apply to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. program or possibly the Environmental Science and Engineering program at UTEP. If you contact me, I can help you determine which program makes the most sense for you. Please contact me if you are interested: ajdarrouzetnardi@utep.edu

Inquiring about graduate opportunities via email is recommended for entry to our program as it is for many ecology programs. Here's a great guide if you're not sure how to approach this. When you reach out, the things that help me the most are to emphasize (1) your experience and fit with topics we study in the lab and (2) specifically for Ph.D. applicants, your experience and preparation in writing manuscripts for peer review in well recognized journals (this resource can help--it's not definitive, but Q1/Q2 will give you an idea of the type of journals I am talking about). If you have publications in less recognized journals, or unpublished drafts or theses, etc., these are all great experience; do let me know if you have plans to submit those types of products to these types of journals. The reason I ask for this information is that publishing is often the hardest part of a Ph.D., and I will carefully evaluate your application to assess your readiness for this challenge.

If you have already corresponded with me via email and you are ready to apply:

1. Go here to the UTEP graduate school application portal.
2. Select your citizenship status.
3. Click "Science"
4. Select the relevant program:

I accept and advise students in two Ph.D. and two Master's programs. If you're not sure what would be best for you, I can help you figure it out.

1. Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
2. Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering
3. M.S. in Biological Sciences
4. M.S. in Environmental Sciences

Our lab studies how environmental changes affect ecosystems from the Arctic tundra to the Chihuahuan Desert. We also do basic scientific research on how these ecosystems function. Our work crosses several subdisciplines in ecology including biogeochemistry, soil ecology, plant ecophysiology, and global change. These fields are currently undergoing a transformation in methods, which will allow you as a student to make a true contribution to the exploration of a vast frontier of knowledge. Studies of soils in particular have historically been limited by frustrating and difficult-to-use methods, but that is changing right now. With access to new data-rich methods and instrument advances, we are now getting a firsthand look at how plants, soil organisms and the soil matrix interact. For more information on current projects, please see this page.

Inclusion is a core value in my lab group and we have a track record of being a team that includes many students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in science such as first-generation college students, women, and minorities. Being at UTEP, we naturally have many Mexican-American, Mexican, and other Hispanic students who have been major contributors to all lab projects. I also strongly support women in the lab and in science. For example, graduate students in the lab have started pods of the 500 Women Scientists group in Moab and El Paso. If you are a member of an underrepresented group, please be especially encouraged to apply, or just reach out for career advice.

Graduate school in STEM fields, including ecology, is not like other professional training programs such as medical school that require large amounts of investment and debt. You will be employed as a research or teaching assistant while you work on your thesis research project, earning a modest but livable salary. There are also opportunities to apply for fellowships such as the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) for which UTEP students have proven competitive. If you are interested and qualified, I will help you with your applications for these types of programs. The lab currently has several major National Science Foundation grants and several more in submission and development. I will continue to apply for such funding to support your work. In all grant applications that I submit, I include funding for student salaries and research projects. In summary, there are many financial support possibilities including teaching assistantships, fellowships, and research assistantships that are supported by external grants.

I'm generally looking for smart, motivated students with a solid transcript showing your ability to perform well in science courses: biology and chemistry in particular. As stated above, evidence of writing proficiency and ability to complete writing tasks are also crucial. Knowledge in the following areas of biology are also particularly valued: soil gas exchange including instrumentation such as LiCor, chambers, etc; dryland ecosystems, including field experience in these areas; and general broad background and coursework in ecology, especially ecosystem ecology. The following ancillary skills can also be useful and help you make a niche for yourself, though are not required: computer programming, statistics, bioinformatics, web design, graphic design, engineering, and handywork. To summarize:

-science degree
-writing experience and skill

A good mix of the following:
-ecology coursework, especially ecosystem ecology
-gas exchange concepts and instrumentation
-experience in dryland ecosystems
-laboratory chemistry skills
-statistics and programming
-ancillary skills (listed above)

Thanks for your interest and please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions: ajdarrouzetnardi@utep.edu

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