Interested in joining us? FAQs!:
What programs can I apply to?: PI Leonard can accept graduate students through the EECB PhD program, the program in Integrative Neuroscience and the M.S. program in Biology. Each of these programs has its own admissions policy and deadlines; in addition to a program-specific application, you must also complete the general UNR Graduate School application.
Do I have to have a research question in mind?: Graduate training involves learning how to formulate research questions, test those ideas, and communicate your findings with the scientific community. Some students begin their graduate education with a specific project or question in mind, driven by their past research experiences or the theme of their funding support. Others have a more general interest, which evolves as they complete a first year project. Most students that contact me are somewhere in the middle: they have interests shaped by past experience, but are open to learning about new questions and having their project develop in new directions.
It's a good idea to read publications associated with the lab, and check out our updates to see what kinds of things we're working on that aren't yet published. Sometimes a grant does have specific deliverables/experiments fleshed out, but even in that case, students have the opportunity to take their project in their own direction.
What are some of the things that you're working on now?: We're excited about the potential for some collaborative projects that involve plant-insect and sensory biology colleagues here at UNR. Namely:
From a "bee POV": we're interested in looking at the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bee sensory perception, and how those effects might scale up to impact foraging behavior and (ultimately) nutritional state and performance. Often these experiments involve bumblebees because they're so tractable for experiments in controlled settings. However we'd be excited to expand this work to include other native bees. From the "plant POV": We've gotten interested in understanding what drives variation in plants' exposure to these pesticides, and potential indirect effects that such exposure might have on floral traits.
Other projects we have in the works involve using a new learning assay we recently developed (Muth et al., 2017 Methods in Ecology and Evolution) to study cognitive traits in wild bees. And, as you can see from our recent publications, there are still tons of questions to ask about nutritionally complex floral rewards (from both plant and pollinator perspectives).
This all sounds great! What's the next step?: There is a formal deadline for some of the above programs, (EECB: Jan. 15th) but those who are seriously interested should email me (anneleonard at unr.edu) with some background on your interests, and a CV by:
I can then tell you a bit more about above-described research, my lab, the program, life at UNR etc.