Information for Prospective Students/Postdocs
& Lab Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
The Hotchkiss Lab is committed to the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science. We acknowledge that the potential for success in and contributions to science is not determined by race, ethnicity, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, neurodivergence, or socioeconomic background. In fact, we believe that diversity of people and perspectives can only increase our ability to advance scientific research, management, education, and policy. We are dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and mentoring individuals in a way that promotes diversity and equity in our research group and classrooms. [Established: September 2017; Last updated: March 2021]
Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community: https://inclusive.vt.edu/vtpoc0.html
If this is the type of research environment you are interested in joining and contributing to, please see below for information on how to join the lab as a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, or undergraduate student.
I am no longer accepting new graduate student applications for August 2024. You can read more about the timeline for applications and interviews with my lab below. I will be hiring 1 Master's or PhD student to start their degree program at Virginia Tech in January, June, or August 2024. The student will conduct research associated with a funded collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which you can read more about here: https://wade.ornl.gov/. Our collaboration will be specific to "Theme 2", but will engage with other parts of the project as well.
Graduate students will: join and expand research in the Hotchkiss Lab exploring how land-water interactions, hydrology, climate, and aquatic ecosystem processes (primary production, carbon metabolism, nutrient cycling, food web dynamics) shape the transport, transformations, and fates of carbon and nutrients in streams, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and fluvial networks. More information about ongoing research can be found on this website. Graduate students conduct independent research, in collaboration with Dr. Hotchkiss, while engaging with undergraduate mentoring and broader research collaborations. In addition to working with others in the lab, members of the Hotchkiss Lab benefit from interacting with students, faculty, and other science professionals within and outside the Department of Biological Sciences: all graduate students will be active members of the multi-lab Stream Team; Ph.D. students may choose to join the interdisciplinary Interfaces of Global Change Program; and all students are welcome to engage with other programs that are well-aligned with their professional development and future career goals (e.g., Cross-Boundaries Biogeosciences, Emerge, Center for Communicating Science, Preparing the Future Professoriate).
Successful applicants will: want to learn about water quality and how freshwater ecosystems function through scientific research and scholarship (e.g., develop knowledge and skills related to ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and/or ecohydrology); have research and scientific writing experience through previous employment and/or education; and be able to work both independently and collaboratively. Candidates with strong quantitative skills or who are interested in developing new quantitate skills are especially encouraged to apply. In most cases, Ph.D. applicants should have the equivalent of a M.Sc. from a graduate program in the United States (a 2-3 year program with a research thesis), but exceptions with significant research and publication experience in a related field will be considered.
If interested in joining the lab: Before submitting an official application to the Graduate School (see timeline below), applicants should email Dr. Hotchkiss a CV or resume and a "letter of interest" - a short letter describing your research interests and experience (please consider including non-science work experience too - all sorts of jobs provide experience with skills that you will use in grad school), future goals, and why you are interested in joining the Hotchkiss Lab. Include whether you are interested in pursuing a M.S. and/or Ph.D. and your preferred start date. Prospective students who are eligible and interested in applying for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship or a Global Change Center Diversity Fellowship are encouraged to contact Dr. Hotchkiss prior to submitting their application. Please email any questions and letters of interest to ehotchkiss[at]vt.edu.
Virginia Tech's Department of Biological Sciences application requirements, deadlines, and guidelines can be found at: www.biol.vt.edu/Graduates/how_to_apply.html. We no longer require GRE scores as part of our application process.
Graduate student stipends: Graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences are paid through a combination of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and/or fellowship awards. The starting graduate student stipend for both MSc and PhD students in Biological Sciences is currently ~$30,000 USD per year; all students receive a full tuition waiver but the stipend/waiver do not cover student fees. Students in Biological Sciences are paid during the summer months as well as academic (fall, spring) semesters, usually through a summer research assistantship associated with a project supporting their graduate research. Higher stipends may be secured through internal awards, external fellowships, and annual department- or university-wide raises; PhD students receive a raise after passing their preliminary exams. A small recruiting bonus may be available during the student's first year to support costs associated with relocating to Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. You can read more about graduate assistantships at Virginia Tech on the Graduate School's website.
Timeline for letters of interest, applications, campus visits, & offers (for applicants interested in an August start date):
August/September: Email me! Include the requested information in "If interested in joining the lab" above.
September/October: I will schedule video or phone call interviews with applicants who have submitted letters of interest and whose interests and objectives appear to be well-aligned with my research group and ongoing/upcoming research funding.
October/November: I will invite a subset of interviewed applicants to submit an official application through the Graduate School. I am willing to pay the application fee for anyone I invite to apply even if you do not meet the qualifications for the graduate application fee waiver from Virginia Tech.
February/March: I will arrange for visits to Virginia Tech/Blacksburg with top-ranked applicants. All travel and lodging costs will be covered by Virginia Tech. Unfortunately our department cannot arrange for on-campus visits of international applicants, but I will schedule a series of calls with faculty and students to mimic the types of meetings you would have if you were able to join us in person. I only extend offers to applicants after all campus visits have concluded.
Please contact me (ehotchkiss[at]vt.edu) if you are interested in working as a postdoc in my group. I am willing to discuss potential funding mechanisms and collaborate on grants to fund postdoctoral fellows if there is not a currently open position that interests you. Here is one opportunity that is funded through Virginia Tech if you have an idea of a project you would like to propose: https://www.research.vt.edu/about/postdoctoral-associates/virginia-tech-presidential-postdoctoral-fellowships.html
If you are interested in conducting research with the Hotchkiss Lab in Spring 2024: Dr. Hotchkiss will be leading a team of undergraduate researchers to assess the changing health of Stroubles Creek and the Duck Pond on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Undergraduate researchers in spring 2024 will enroll in BIOL 2984 Ecology Research in Local Waterways CRN 21555 (2 credit hours, A-F grade mode, meets MF 11:15a-12:05p & W 2-5p). You can review a flyer for the course here and a draft syllabus for the course here. Please reach out with any questions you have about the class and/or research plans (ehotchkiss[at]vt.edu).