25 November 2016


Do you love Neotropical birds?
Do you love field expeditions in Latin America?
Want to do some serious genomics in one of the nation’s best university-based natural history museums?

I am recruiting 1-2 PhD students to join my lab in the Ornithology Department of the Sam Noble Museum at University of Oklahoma for the Fall 2017. Students should be willing to take a creative leadership role in the comparative genomics of secondary contact and speciation in Neotropical birds. These positions would involve considerable time in the field on expeditions in Latin America to collect birds, supported by the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum Department of Ornithology.

The ideal student will have previous Latin American ornithological field experience, as well as the ability to understand and speak Spanish. Students from Latin America are particularly encouraged to apply. These projects will consist of developing genomic datasets from massively-parallel sequencing efforts (i.e. next gene sequencing) at the University of Oklahoma. Strong computational skills in UNIX, R and Python are a real plus. However, all potential students with strong field, lab, and museum ornithological skills are encouraged to contact me.

Students can undertake projects in two areas where we have existing datasets: either in the comparative genomics of secondary contact of lowlands birds (see Secondary Contact Project) or in the genomics of species isolation of Lampornis hummingbirds (see Lampornis Genomics Project), or the student can develop her/his own project. We have active funding for field research in Bolivia and Peru as well, so projects in this area could be developed.

Students in our lab are enrolled in either the Biology or closely allied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD program, but maintain offices and a lab home in the Ornithology Department at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The Ornithology Department consists of a fast-growing ornithological collection, state-of-the-art molecular genomics labs (capable of doing all NGS preparations including ddRAD-Seq, hybrid capture, and whole genome sequencing), multiple bioinformatics Linux workstations (as well as access to the OU Supercomputer), and an impressive ornithological research library.

OU Biology/EEB has a strong focus on “geographical ecology”, and our group participates in the Geographical Ecology working group, which is organized by Mike Kaspari (tropical community ecology), and includes the following faculty: Katie Marske (phylogeography) Katie Marshall (physiological ecology), Dan Allen (stream and riparian ecology) and Cam Siler (herpetology and systematics). Collectively, our group provides a rich environment for students to interact with these and other talented faculty and students in the Geographical Ecology working group and throughout the Biology department.

We are also allied with the Oklahoma Biological Survey, which has considerable strengths in ornithology. This includes Jeff Kelly’s lab, Eli Bridge’s group, and Jeremy Ross’s lab. Collectively, this makes OU among the best universities for ornithology in the country.

Funding for graduate students is currently available in the form of 10-month teaching assistantships with reasonable stipends, full tuition waivers and excellent health care coverage. In addition, students can expect to be funded during the summer by the OU Sutton Avian Research Scholarships, Adams Scholarships, and Curatorial Assistantships in Ornithology at the Sam Noble Museum. Our lab has existing funds for field expeditions and specimen collection, and there are several funding sources on campus and elsewhere for the development of next-generation genomic datasets. Norman is an amazing college town, and the cost of living is quite reasonable for graduate students.

Interested students should contact me (mjmiller@ou.edu) with a brief summary of your research interests and relevant experiences and attach a CV. All prospective students must also apply through the OU Biology Graduate Program by mid December. Candidates from groups underrepresented in STEM are encouraged to apply. Se habla español aqui!