Prospective Students


Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” - James Baldwin

I will not be accepting new graduate students for Fall 2025.

Graduate Study in the Burkepile Lab - Ready to Pile On?

We are always looking for excited, motivated, dedicated, and sharp students with a keen interest in community ecology and trophic interactions to join our lab group. Prospective students should have an interest in doing exciting, fun, and challenging research in marine ecosystems or African savannas. Having a love of fish or coral reefs or African ungulates is a great starting place, but it is not enough to get you through the rigors of a graduate degree. You need to be motivated to put yourself in a position of not knowing things and to be willing to work hard to seek answers to how the world works. This process is often messy, frustrating, and humbling, often dominated by some times boring, repetitive tasks. Discipline and endurance are key. The excitement of learning how fish influence ecosystem dynamics or what directs coral reef recovery should be worth the challenges. 

We look for students that have positive outlooks, that work and play well with others and like collaborating, and do not mind living in close quarters with others, often in remote places. We also look for students that add diversity of lived experiences to our group. I view my role as mentor to my graduate students as my most important job as a professor. My job is to help our students focus their passion for science on research topics that will help launch their careers. Ultimately, I strive to have collaborative relationships with our graduate students where we learn from each other, generate new research ideas together, and write proposals together rather than being a strong top-down force dictating what the students in the lab group work on. The members of The Pile work hard to make science fun and enjoyable, even in times of frustration, and we are always on the lookout for like-minded people. If you are interested in applying to work in our lab, please send me an email outlining: (1) why you want to pursue an advanced degree, (2) your research interests, and (3) your qualifications for graduate school. Please include a current CV. Also, note that GRE scores are not important to me (they indicate little about a student's potential for success in graduate school), and our department no longer requires them for applicants.     

For more information on the Graduate Program in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB including admission requirements and funding opportunities see the Graduate Program website. I can also accept students through the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science at UCSB.


Undergraduate Opportunities

We are always on the lookout for motivated undergraduates to get involved in both lab and field work. If you are interested in talking about what undergraduate research opportunities there might be in the lab, please email one of the graduate students or postdocs in our group whose research sounds interesting to you.