Prospective Students


Applications to the iBio Graduate Program are due by December 1st each year. Please check back in early fall for openings for the 2023-24 academic year.

General information

Prospective PhD students are encouraged to peruse the lab web site and recent publications for an overview of current research. Our lab group is diverse, but we share a common theme of asking ecological questions in a spatial context. We study spatial heterogeneity, its causes and how it affects a variety of different ecological responses, often at broad scales. Students often use both empirical (largely field-based observations and experiments) and modeling approaches in their research, and publication in the peer-reviewed literature is expected. We have a collaborative, congenial and very interactive lab group. Please enjoy reading the comments from former lab members on our Lab Legacies page.

Students interested in the lab are encouraged to contact Dr. Turner with their interests and CV. Current research projects focus on climate change, fire, and forest dynamics in the northern US Rocky Mountains; nitrogen cycling in young postfire forests in Greater Yellowstone; sustainability of food, energy, water and ecosystem services in landscapes of the Upper Mississippi River Basin; and land-water interactions in north temperate lakes of Wisconsin.

Prospective students are also encouraged to visit the Center for Ecology and the Environment for more information about graduate study at UW-Madison and campus-wide faculty in ecology.

Graduate study in the Turner Lab- what to expect

Our lab group is collaborative and very interactive, with an atmosphere that is both challenging (with respect to our science) and supportive. We have informal but regular weekly lab meetings at which we cover a variety of topics, including: discussing prospective questions and approaches for students in the phase of developing their research; reviewing data, statistical analyses and interpretation of results for projects that are underway; practicing our conference presentations or reviewing drafts of posters; discussing current papers of general interest; reviewing different topics relevant for professional development; and, of course, eating lunch (or doughnuts!) Although each student is leading his/her own projects and papers, frequent exchanges of ideas is a critical part of science; we have a number of close collaborators at other institutions. We also get together throughout the year for fun—lab potlucks are always rather delicious. Interested prospective students may also view an informal summary of the milestones for earning a PhD in the Turner lab.

I am an involved advisor, but not a micro-manager; self-motivation is key to success in science, but this is not a “sink or swim” environment. I work very closely with students as they develop their research ideas, and especially in the writing (and re-writing!) of research proposals and manuscripts. Publication of research results in peer-reviewed journals is expected, with most students producing 3-4 published papers from their dissertations.

A number of students in the lab have received national fellowships (e.g., NSF, DOE, EPA-STAR, NSERC), and many have obtained small grants that help to support their studies. Students in the lab have also been involved in a variety of leadership opportunities on campus (e.g., graduate student rep to departmental committees or to Wisconsin Ecology) and in professional societies (e.g., graduate student rep to US-IALE). Students typically complete their PhD in 4-5 years, including 2-2.5 years of coursework.

Prospective students are also welcome to email Professor Turner directly and as well as to contact current or former students with questions.  Please also see the web pages for the Department of Integrative Biology, Wisconsin Ecology, and The UW Graduate School.

Undergraduate independent study projects for credit

Contact Professor Turner for more information.

Undergraduate student hourly positions

Contact Professor Turner for more information.