Ecological Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Joining the Lab


O-Lab members, from left to right: (Back row) Kristina Bartowitz,
Brian Connolly, John Stuhler, Jen Chandler; (Front row) Pete
Guiden, Phil Hahn, John Orrock. Not pictured: Nash Turley, Joe

Orrock Lab Philosophy

In the Orrock Lab, we value integrity, hard work, communication, creativity, and collaboration; these are the foundations of effective scientific inquiry.

We endeavor to create a lab where all members are free to share and discuss their ideas in an open, supportive environment where trust and respect are paramount. Our goal is to catalyze new scientific discoveries using a simple approach: by providing a constraint-free environment where people with diverse perspectives and a common passion for ecology can interact.



Undergraduate Students

Highly motivated undergraduates can gain research experience in the Orrock Lab via several routes: as a research volunteer, by doing research for course credit (e.g. as a senior thesis), or as a paid research technician.  Before contacting me, visit my research and publications pages to learn more about the projects underway in the lab. 

Prospective Graduate Students

I am accepting graduate students to pursue Masters- and Ph.D.-level research. Prospective graduate students should first examine the current research in the lab and read some representative publications. Current foci in my lab include the ecology of plant-animal interactions, the ecological consequences of anti-predator behavior, and the role of spatial dynamics in affecting conservation. Current study areas include the grasslands of California, the Channel Islands, forests of Wisconsin, and pine forests of the southeastern U.S. My graduate students are expected to work hard to develop their own ideas, to think freely, and to engage other students and faculty (see below; thanks to Marty Martin at USF).

Graduate students can expect me to:

1. Provide financial support for you (not guaranteed)
2. Provide advice on ideas, literature, experimental design, and analyses
3. Help with the development and execution of research projects
4. Critique grant proposals and manuscripts
5. Schedule meetings to discuss your progress
6. Hold formal lab meetings to discuss current literature and ideas
7. Provide training in plant-consumer interactions, behavioral ecology, and spatial ecology
8. Provide contacts to help advance your research and career
9. Provide insight into how science works (i.e., the social/political aspects of "the business")

I expect graduate students to:

1. Be present in the lab (or be otherwise accessible) to facilitate discussions and interactions with me and other lab members
2. Be an independent thinker: become versed in the literature and generate your own questions
3. Be a hard worker. Success is likely to require many, many hours of work under suboptimal conditions
4. Give presentations at national meetings
5. Write manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals (and start early)
6. Write grant proposals to fund your research (see comment for #5)
7. Be responsible for your own paperwork, deadlines, and for ensuring that your research is on track
8. Be a team player: help fellow lab mates and know that they'll help you
9. Maintain academic and professional integrity
10. Be honest with yourself and with me

For additional (and generally quite accurate) insights into graduate work in ecology, consult these classics:
"Some modest advice for graduate students" by Stephen Stearns (Bull. Eco. Soc. Am. 68: 145-150)
"Reply to Stearns: Some acynical advice for graduate students" by Raymond Huey (Bull. Eco. Soc. Am. 68:150-153)

Postdoctoral Researchers

Individuals interested in conducting post-doctoral research in the lab are encouraged to contact me (e-mail preferred)



Website © 2007 John Orrock