Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2018

Ecology and Evolution Department

The Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution (GPEE) at Stony Brook were the first such units in the United States and have served as models for corresponding units at many other institutions. The Faculty of the GPEE at Stony Brook includes one member of the National Academy of Sciences, several past presidents of national and international societies in ecology, evolution, and systematics, and authors of influential books in these disciplines. Since its inception, the program has emphasized the integration of concepts from ecology and evolutionary biology.

The faculty and the graduate students in GPEE are engaged in research on Long Island and around the world, including Alaska, the continental US, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, and Antarctica. They study terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms comprising a wide range of taxa, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, primates, birds, mollusks, insects, vascular plants, fungi, and bacteria. Their research incorporates experimental, comparative, theoretical, and statistical approaches and utilize field, laboratory, and literature survey studies. Research in GPEE includes interspecific interactions, geographical variation and phylogeography, population genetics, experimental evolution, evolutionary genomics, molecular evolution, evolutionary developmental biology, phylogenetics, population dynamics, biological invasions, phenotypic plasticity, ecosystem ecology and paleontology. Many faculty members are active in the application of their research to problems in conservation.

Our program has students studying toward both master’s and doctoral degrees. Graduates are qualified for positions in academic or research institutions, government agencies, conservation organizations, and environmental consulting companies. Former students have become faculty members in biology, ecology and evolution, agricultural entomology, and marine biology departments at prominent private and public universities as well as selective liberal arts and smaller state colleges. Although GPEE emphasizes basic research, many of its graduates have entered careers that apply ecological and evolutionary principles to problems in such areas as marine toxicology, agricultural entomology, invasive species, natural resource management, conservation, and risk assessment.

An atmosphere of collegiality and intellectual interchange prevails throughout the GPEE and is fostered by discussion groups and an exciting weekly program of invited speakers during the academic year. A detailed description of the program, including degree requirements, and descriptions of the faculty research interests, and application materials are available on the web at Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty members whose interests they share.

Master of Arts in Biological Sciences (concentrations in Applied Ecology and Applied Evolution)

The concentration in Applied Ecology provides students with a strong foundation in ecological principles and the quantitative tools necessary for sound assessment of environmental issues. The concentration is intended to address the need for professionals in environmental sciences at federal, state, county, and other levels of government, environmental departments of large industrial companies and smaller environmental consulting firms, and non-governmental conservation and environmental protection organizations. This training is valuable in environmental planning, resource use and regulation, conservation biology, and data analyses for decision makers in government and the private sector.

The Applied Evolution concentration prepares students for work in these sectors and in fields including biotechnology, forensics, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biomedicine where genomic, phylogenetic, and population genetics-based analytical skills are required. In particular, the program offers the opportunity to explore both the evolutionary and ecological dimensions of problems such as the evolution of antibiotic or pesticide resistance and genetic contributions to  population decline via inbreeding.

Both concentrations are useful for further specialized degree programs or careers in education, and are particularly strong in developing quantitative skills, providing enhanced career opportunities.  Courses offered by the Department of Ecology and Evolution provide training in ecology, evolution, genomics, conservation biology, mathematical methods, and statistics, with applications in these fields.

Ph.D. Program in Ecology and Evolution

First year students take courses in ecology, evolution, and biometry. A general preliminary examination is given at the end of the first year. Students are encouraged to take specialized courses at Stony Brook and other institutions and to become involved in research during the first summer. Advanced courses and seminars are taken in subsequent years. A temporary advisor is assigned upon entering the program. Students appoint a permanent advisor and advisory committee during the second year. After passing an oral examination that concentrates on the areas of their proposed research and submitting a research proposal to the faculty, students undertake original research that is typically independent of their advisor’s research.