I’m currently seeking 2-3 graduate students (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) to start in Fall 2017!
My work addresses fundamental questions in ecology and evolution, ranging from population ecology to macroevolution and using different approaches depending on the question (theory, experiments, comparative analyses). I’m open to inquiries from students with a broad range of interests, but I’m particularly keen to hear from students interested in the following ongoing projects:
- Causes and consequences of spatial synchrony. This project is a long-term collaboration with David Vasseur at Yale. Spatial synchrony is a common and striking natural phenomenon, whereby spatially-separated populations of the same species exhibit correlated fluctuations in abundance. Even across entire continents! This project uses protist microcosms to conduct experiments that would be impossible to conduct in nature at the relevant spatial and temporal scales. My lab has gotten what we think are very cool results on this in the past (e.g., Vasseur & Fox 2009 Nature), and we just got more that we’re really excited about and that can be built on in many different ways. Lots of low-hanging fruit here, both modeling and experimental. And if you like the sound of getting hundreds of generations of population dynamic data in a single summer, this is the model system for you.
- Local adaptation in space and time. This project involves using a -80 C freezer as a ‘time machine’ to reciprocally transplant lake bacteria forwards and backwards in time (as well as in space) to test for local adaptation to spatial and temporal environmental variation. One big question is whether temporal or spatial variation is more effective at generating local adaptation and so maintaining diversity. The simplest theory says that spatial variation should be much more effective, but nature may not be that simple. I recently published promising preliminary results on this project (Fox & Harder 2015 Evolution), it’s just waiting for a grad student to take it on, scale it up, and run with it.
- Using the Price equation to quantify species selection in macroevolution. Species selection is non-random speciation and extinction with respect to species’ traits (e.g., body size). It’s potentially a key driver of macroevolutionary trends, and has long been of huge interest to evolutionary biologists because it’s not just the cumulative effect of microevolution (at least, not necessarily). But it’s proven very hard to detect and quantify in real data such as data from the fossil record, because microevolutionary forces can produce similar trends. In collaboration with my paleontological colleague Jessica Theodor and her group, I’ve used a powerful quantitative tool–the Price equation–to detect and quantify species selection and other macroevolutionary forces in a high-quality fossil dataset (Rankin et al. 2015 Proceedings B). I’m looking for a graduate student to build on this work by applying the approach to other suitable fossil datasets (probably invertebrates, though there may be suitable vertebrate datasets as well; identifying suitable datasets would be the first task). The ideal candidate would have an interest in big, conceptual, quantitative questions (like “how strong is species selection?”), and would already have experience working with fossils and data derived from fossils.
- Other creative uses of microcosms. Microcosms are the study system in which I have the most experience, so if you have a cool idea for a question that could be addressed in microcosms, I’d love to hear from you. I’m currently toying with some ideas for “macroecology in microcosms”…
For more on my lab, please visit my (shiny new!) homepage.
Guaranteed funding of at least $21,000/year (more than that in practice) is available for 2 years (M.Sc.) or 4 years (Ph.D.). Note that Canadian graduate programs are a bit shorter than in the US. Funding is provided through a combination of TAships, RAships, and scholarships. Applications are evaluated as they’re received.
Calgary is a safe, vibrant city of over 1 million people, located close to the Canadian Rockies with all the opportunities for research and recreation that implies.
If you are interested, please email me an introductory note, along with a cv, transcripts (unofficial is fine), and contact details for 3 references.
-Jeremy Fox (email@example.com)