Thanks for your interest in learning more about the ESDL. Mentoring students and helping them launch meaningful research is my favorite part of this job! Please read the info below and peruse the research pages of this site to assess whether the ESDL might be a good fit for your experience and goals.
Students who will be successful in this lab embrace a highly quantitative approach to problems and enjoy broad, interdisciplinary thinking. Successful applicants will have a strong background in math, physics, and earth science courses, exhibit excellent communications skills, and have a good idea of the type of questions they would like to pursue.
Many prospective students have questions about the projects that are available to work on and the funding for those projects. While I may sometimes have specific grants for projects and funding for a graduate student that is tied to that grant, I encourage my students to work on a topic within the general themes and approach of the ESDL that is specifically tailored to their interests and goals. Many of my students will put together interdisciplinary committees and benefit from the diverse expertise available within the Geography Department and in other departments on and off campus.
Admission to Berkeley Geography is highly selective, but one of the rewards is a strong funding package that covers tuition and a stipend. There are many other opportunities for graduate students to fund their research expenses, and as your advisor I would help you identify and prepare a submission for those opportunities. I believe that learning how to fund the work you are passionate about is an important part of a graduate program. Equally important are learning how to write effective papers for publication in the scientific literature, how to design, execute, and manage scientific experiments, and how to present your work through graphics and oral presentations.
Many of the most critical problems facing our world today blend complex social and environmental issues. Geography departments in general have a long history of interdisciplinarity and will prepare you with both the breadth and depth needed to address these problems. Interestingly, fluvial geomorphology—the study of how flowing water impacts landscape evolution and a big part of the work that this lab does—has traditionally been housed in Geography departments across the US and especially in Europe. Berkeley Geography in particular has had a strong emphasis on environmental issues throughout its history. It is a small department with a unified vision, where students and faculty members commonly bridge the gap (“gap” may itself be an inaccurate term) between social and physical environmental science. A degree from a Geography department will expose you to a diverse set of approaches to interdisciplinary problems, many of which are cutting-edge. We strive to pioneer new ways to address the challenges of understanding how multiple driving forces interact over space and time.
While you will take a few core classes in Geography and attend departmental seminars, you are free to tailor your coursework—with your advisor’s input—to your specific interests and take courses in any department. Some students will choose specific areas of concentration or emphasis that are not associated with any one particular department (example: Designated Emphasis in Computational Science and Engineering).
Interested in learning more?
If you are interested in applying to Berkeley Geography and would like to learn more about this lab specifically, send an email containing information about 1) your prospective starting semester, 2) the part of our research portfolio that interests you most, and 3) a resume, CV, or unofficial transcript. Please note that it may take me up to two weeks to respond.
For further reading…
The following are excellent texts about the graduate school and academic experience. They are available for borrowing from my office bookshelf!
- Christopher, Sundar A. Navigating graduate school and beyond. American Geophysical Union, 2011. A must-read!
- Reis, Richard M. Tomorrow’s professor: preparing for academic careers in science and engineering. IEEE Press, 1996.
- Female Science Professor. Academeology: Random musings, strong opinions and somewhat bizarre anecdotes from an academic life. I have also enjoyed her blog.
And, just for fun, this was part of my daily procrastination as a graduate student: