Academic Catalog


Doctor of Philosophy Ecological Sciences (PhD)

Daniel Barshis, Graduate Program Director

The primary goal of the doctoral program in ecological sciences is to provide advanced training in ecological, evolutionary, and integrative biology.

The program has notable strengths in a broad range of biological sub-disciplines, including:

  • ecosystem studies,
  • experimental ecology,
  • community ecology,
  • behavioral ecology,
  • marine biology,
  • molecular genetics/genomics,
  • conservation biology,
  • systematics,
  • modeling,
  • evolutionary biology,
  • biomechanics,
  • parasitology, and
  • functional morphology.

Program faculty conduct studies in a variety of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments on several continents, and their research focuses on a broad spectrum of taxa, including, but not limited to:

  • vascular plants,
  • polychaetes,
  • mollusks,
  • crustaceans,
  • corals,
  • insects,
  • arachnids,
  • birds,
  • fishes, and
  • amphibians.

Many faculty combine active field research with parallel laboratory studies. Quantitative approaches are encouraged and the opportunity exists to obtain a master’s degree in statistics while pursuing a doctorate in ecological sciences. The program is enhanced by excellent on-campus resources that include a scanning electron microscopy lab, genetic sequencing facilities, herbarium, aquatics laboratory, water tunnel and flow quantification facility, GIS facilities, greenhouse, and digital imaging facilities. Field research sites have been established in:

  • the Virginia Coastal Reserve,
  • Blackwater Ecologic Preserve,
  • Great Dismal Swamp,
  • Atlantic Ocean,
  • Chesapeake Bay, and
  • other areas.