I am interested in working closely with bright students whom have original ideas and a clear passion for their subject. I have a broad range of interests and that is reflected in the diversity of the projects in which I have been involved. Probably the best way to understand if the lab is studying ideas and topics that align with your interests is to see our publications or descriptions of our ongoing research.
At its core graduate studies should provide a universally applicable skill set: critical thinking, understanding, applying, and communicating science, etc. But, my hope is that we can also tailor your graduate training and experience such that it becomes the means by which you find employment. For some that may be a future in academia and for others the opportunity to work in management and conservation with Government, NGOs, or consulting agencies.
There are a few qualities that will go a long way in helping you succeed in the lab. Because much of our research involves empirical data collection, students need to be capable and comfortable working outdoors, possibly in inclement weather and in remote areas for extended periods of time. Students should also be comfortable around animals. Interacting and handling wild animals, big or small, requires common sense and compassion. Wildlife science also requires that students do not fear math or writing. Whether it’s animal handling, statistics, or writing science we will provide ample training, but no course is surrogate for a general willingness and openness to learn.
One of my favourite components of science is collaboration. There are so many great ideas, bright researchers, and students, that the potential for an exceptional idea to emerge from great conversation is ever present. Our lab is an open environment that recognizes the benefits of building trusting collaborations among students and researchers, and across institutions.
Science is expensive. One of the most challenging parts of science to fund is graduate students. Fortunately, MUN has decent funding and progressive policies to help support graduate students during their research. Nevertheless, MUN funding still requires monetary contributions from me. This support is often built into grants and when that is the case I will be sure to advertise available positions on the lab website. However, there are alternatives to being funded through MUN fellowships, including NSERC post-graduate scholarships and for students from Québec, FQRNT post-graduate scholarships. For those seeking NSERC or FQRNT funding to come and work in the lab, please feel free to contact me in advance and I’d be happy to help where I can.
The Wildlife Evolutionary Ecology Lab is located at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. Despite a 400 year history post-European colonization, Newfoundland remains a wonderfully wild place. For those with a passion for wildlife and the outdoors, I can imagine few areas as exciting as Newfoundland – you may see caribou and whales on the same day trip. Nature is juxtaposed to the deep and rich cultural roots of Newfoundland, including the city of St. John’s, the oldest city in North America. For more information about Newfoundland and Labrador please see: Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador.
I encourage prospective students to contact me directly, preferably via email. Please send me a description of your research interests, your CV, unofficial transcript.
Eric Vander Wal
Department of Biology
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s NL, Canada A1B 3X9
T: (709) 864-7946