Prospective Students

Dear Prospective Student,

Thank-you for your interest in my research and lab group at the University of Guelph.  I am currently accepting applications from students interested in doing research at the interface of plant physiological ecology, functional ecology and evolutionary biology.   For a more detailed description of my research and potential projects, please see the ‘Research’ tab above. There are openings for both undergraduate and graduate researchers in my lab. The information below is directed more specifically to graduate students, but undergraduate researchers should expect to be guided by a similar mentoring philosophy.

The decision to pursue graduate studies is often a difficult one, as is the choice of where to pursue those studies.  To help you make your decision, I want to give you an idea of the kind of training you would receive as a student in my lab.  To me, the most exciting research questions to pursue are those at the interface of different disciplines.  As a result, I am interested in recruiting students who want to gain the necessary breadth to answer these kinds of questions.  I want students who are excited about doing science and want to work hard to achieve their research and career goals. This typically means that you should be motivated and self-sufficient.  But most of all, you should know you enjoy research. The process of scientific discovery is hard, and I cannot imagine doing it well if it isn’t something I enjoy.  If you are contemplating graduate school here or elsewhere, I also encourage you to read this guide to being a successful graduate student in the Sciences.

I am currently accepting applications for both M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. The training process is a little different for each degree.  Because the time to degree is short (2 years) M.Sc. candidates typically work on an ongoing lab project that is relatively self-contained.  In contrast, I expect Ph.D candidates to play a much bigger role in deciding what kind of research project to undertake.  Because doctoral candidates are training to be fully licensed scientists, it is absolutely critical to develop an independent scientific identity.   This means that in order to graduate, you should have mastered the literature in your own discipline, as well as in related areas; gained expertise in a variety of scientific methods and procedures; and demonstrated your creativity as well as your ability to analyze data and publish peer-reviewed scientific papers in high quality journals.  As a graduating Ph.D candidate you must also have developed the critical thinking skills you need to carry out your own independent research program, write grant proposals, and develop your own undergraduate and graduate courses.  In essence, you should be ready to run your own lab (in academia or elsewhere).  These days, in order to be competitive for employment, you must also have several first-authored publications to your name.  As an M.Sc. or Ph.D. student, you will spend a considerable amount of time in graduate school writing (and rewriting, with my help) manuscripts, grant proposals, and literature reviews.  You will also practice your oral communication skills by presenting your research at national and international scientific meetings.

Much of science is a collaborative enterprise, and my lab functions as a team.  We all appreciate each others abilities and personalities, and help each other in the creative process by respectfully critiquing research ideas, proposals, and manuscripts. This type of collaboration is one of the most important ways to improve every individual lab member’s scholarship, and I expect all prospective students to be willing to participate as active members of the lab group.

If, after reading this, you are interested in joining the lab, please contact me – I would be happy to discuss your candidacy as well as potential research projects.  Advertised openings for graduate students in my lab can be found under the ‘Opportunities’ tab above. To get things started, please have a look at the research projects and published papers that are posted on this web site.

When you contact me, please let me know something about your background (degrees, coursework, GPA, past research experience).  In addition, please give me a brief outline of the kind of research you wish to do in graduate school and why you want to pursue that research in my lab group.  I also encourage you to try and come visit our lab and the University of Guelph campus.  This kind of informal interview is often the best way to determine if you would enjoy working in our group.  Please also be sure to consult the admission requirements and procedures found at the Department of Integrative Biology Graduate Program web site.


Hafiz Maherali