Before anything else, ask yourself why you are interested in graduate school? It is an arduous path, one that will test the limits of your creativity and passion for biology, and it is not an easy path towards job security or wealth! Still think you are interested? Great. If you are interested in working with me, first shoot me an email: some years I have the resources to take a new student, some years I don’t. These resources are many-fold: I want to be sure that I have sufficient grant support to cover at least some of your stipend (the rest being covered by teaching assistantships or fellowships), I want to be sure I have the mental resources to keep up with all of my students and their ideas (!), and both of these types of support are key. My students will matriculate through either the Department of Genetics or the Odum School of Ecology.
Currently, I do not plan to accept new students into the lab next year.
When I am ready to take a new student, at this point it will be by direct admit to one of these academic programs and to my lab; I do not intend to participate in the ILS program for the time being.
Undergraduates or graduate students who want to rotate in my lab will probably end up helping out on projects that are either small and reasonably self-contained (like my work on Melampus bidentatus in the salt marshes of Georgia) or adding on to previous projects (maybe somebody wants to extend our work on overdominance in seastars?). In addition there are opportunities to start collecting data as part of my funded work.
Undergraduate students hoping to do research in the Wares Lab need to understand that much of our work is computational/analytical rather than bench experiments, and often the only “wet lab” work is DNA isolation and PCR and submitting those fragments for analysis - leading us back to the computers. So, if you are interested in working with us you need to have some background and interest in computational biology, population genetics, and bioinformatics. If this is something that you are interested in, you may want to look into the Institute of Bioinformatics BINF 4005 course, “essential computing skills for biologists”. That will help make sure you are comfortable working with shell commands, R, and accessing the computational cluster. BINF 4550 has prerequisites but will lead you further into bioinformatics analysis.
Graduate students in my lab are expected to somehow integrate informatics, population genetics, phylogenetics, life history, ecology, biogeography, and/or common sense into a reasonably independent dissertation. Incoming students will take courses in Evolution and Ecology, and most likely some statistics or bioinformatics training as well. While there is funded work that must be done in the lab, I will work with students to find the right balance between these goals (which I am responsible for) and your goals (which gives you a better start to your career).
Students in my lab should expect to read a lot, work on communication skills (writing, presentation), attempt to fund their research through extramural fellowships and grants when possible, and interact with the multidisciplinary groups that my lab is associated with (the EDGE seminars, working groups associated with funded work, etc.).
Being a good team player is also key. We want to all get along. We have to spend a lot of time with each other for the time you are at UGA, and maintaining happy dynamics in the lab is a goal as important as getting papers published. I suppose those two things are cyclically related....