Join the Lab

Undergraduate students

[Due to COVID-19, we are not accepting any new undergraduate assistants. Please stay safe.]

Our lab welcomes students with diverse interests in ecology, evolution, plant biology, microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and mycology. We welcome students from all levels (pre-freshmen to post-senior) and backgrounds as long as they are serious about learning research skills and willing to commit their time and energy to the lab. In return, we will commit to training and mentoring them to succeed in scientific research. Incoming students are always under the guidance of a senior lab member until they are proficient in basic lab skills (sterile technique, pipetting, culturing) and required to work a minimum of 10 hours per week during training. Students can set their own flexible hours after the initial training. Students can earn credit by enrolling in EEMB 84/184 (Internship in Biological Sciences), EEMB 99 (Introduction to Research), EEMB 197 (Directed Studies), EEMB 199 (Independent Studies). The appropriate course depends on whether the student is lower- or upper-division standing, their major, GPA, and previous course work. Please see EEMB course website for details. Students can also volunteer without credit. We occasionally have paid positions, but these are typically reserved for more senior members and summer sessions. Students from MCDB and ES can also enroll for credit. 5 hours per week = 1 credit. We understand that many students from low-income backgrounds cannot afford to volunteer time or commit these hours. We remain open to finding opportunities for students who want to work fewer hours and are committed to finding funds to support paid training for students from underserved communities of STEM.

Independent research and Honors research: Undergraduates with research experience (either in our lab or elsewhere) are encouraged to pursue independent projects under the supervision of the PI, postdoc or graduate student in the lab. This requires considerably more time commitment and flexibility (occasional weekends and late nights). Student may start on a project designed by a senior lab member and gradually take ownership of the project as they read the necessary primary literature. Student should enroll in EEMB 199 (Independent Studies) and commit to at least two quarters for their project. Projects can take several months to a year. If student commits at least two quarters of independent study to the project and present their research results on campus, they will be invited to co-author (or author!) any future papers that include data from the project. 

Here are some great resources for undergraduate students who want to do research. Please email me if you are interested in applying to any of them.

Gene Lucas Resarch Fund (Deadline around April 3) - this award support research projects of undergraduate, first-generation college students at UC Santa Barbara in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Freshmen participants will be funded up to $1,000 towards on-site work experience in a research environment, including laboratory or field work. 

Edison 2020 Summer Research Program (Deadline around April 3) - this award provides a $4000 stipend for undergraduate students who identify as low-income, first-generation or underrepresented in graduate education as defined by U.S. Department of Education or the National Science Foundation. The student will conduct research over a 10 week summer period with close mentorship from the program in how to apply for graduate school. 

Worster Award (Deadline around April 10) - this award is to support the development of graduate and undergraduate research in ecology, evolution and/or marine biology through a mentoring program that pairs an undergraduate with a graduate student mentor during the summer. All graduate students that have their thesis committee chaired by an EEMB faculty member are eligible to apply for this award. Stipends in previous years have averaged $5000.00 per team (to be paid during the summer), and we anticipate that we will be able to fund 5-7 teams this coming summer. 

Undergraduate Research Creative Activities (Deadline around Nov. 3) - this award (up to $750) allows undergraduates to conduct independent research in our lab during the year or over the summer. 

FRAP Award (Deadlines around Oct. 15, Jan. 23, or April 17) - this award allows undergraduates to gain valuable research experience, work with leading UCSB researchers, and simultaneously earn academic credit through special research assistance courses, 99/99RA or 199/199RA.

Non-UCSB undergraduate and high school students

Motivated students from outside UCSB are also welcomed to inquire about possible projects and volunteer opportunities in our research lab. Especially during the summer when students have more flexible hours, small projects can be completed. I have mentored two high school students in the past, both whom have plans to co-author papers with me in the near future. 

Graduate students

Prospective applicants should contact EEMB department for information about the application process and email the PI (ryoko.oono at lifesci.ucsb.edu) expressing your interest in grad school and our lab. Graduate students develop their own research projects based on their interests. Specific questions and topics for theses develop during the first few years but a general idea of your interests is helpful during the application process. Students will be encouraged to write proposals in hopes of getting funding, but this is also an important time to practice writing about science, learning to write proposals, and organizing your thoughts in a coherent synthesis.

Please carefully look over the research topics we currently explore. I would be interested to learn what inspires you to do the kind of research we do in our lab and what you would be bringing to the lab in terms of expertise, new questions, new models, etc. All students will be expected to apply for funding, either for travel, research, or stipend, throughout their graduate careers. There are many opportunities, both small and large, making UCSB one of the best places that value independent learning. Incoming students are generally advised to start applying before enrollment - especially the NSF GRFP, which allows applications the year before starting graduate school. For tips on writing fellowship applications, see here.

Prospective applicants should also question the viability of living in Santa Barbara for the next 5+ years of their lives on a graduate student stipend. Why do you want a PhD? Do you really need one to attain your long-term goals? Prospective graduate students are invited to campus in the spring for interviewing.

Post-docs

As a postdoctoral scholar, one should have the freedom to pursue their own questions and experiments without the constraints of a PI's grant or research agenda. I encourage all potential postdoctoral researchers interested in our lab to apply for postdoctoral fellowships as a means to fund their own project. I am happy to help in the process and will give substantive and timely feedback to all drafts. Another option is to aid in grant-writing for securing future funding. During this process, we will be able to get to know each other better to see if we are a good fit. Funding is currently available for postdoc projects and extensions.

Funding opportunities: