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EEB Insider: John Stanton-Geddes

What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D. in the University of Minnesota's Ecology, Evolution and Behavior program?

The EEB program at Minnesota is one of the top programs in the country, with tremendous faculty and the resources of a land-grant university. The standards for research are high, but there is great support and expertise to achieve these goals. Further, there are great resources and collaborators throughout the U of M for whatever direction your research takes you.

I'm not from Minnesota and I have to ask, “What is a Minnesota winter like?”

Cold! But when in Minnesota, do as the Minnesotans do. There’s a great winter culture around cross-country skiing, skating, ice fishing and broom ball. You just need to get involved in something to make winter fun. Winter’s also a great time to write papers, and when spring comes it feels amazing.

I don't think of myself as a city person. Is the university really an urban campus and what is that like for someone who likes the outdoors?

The U of M is amazing in having many of the advantages of the city life while also having great access to the outdoors. Within the city, there are lakes and rivers for swimming and kayaking, and great paths and trails for biking and running. Short drives away from the cities there are nice state parks for hiking, and only a few hours away are the amazing wilderness areas of the North Shore and the Boundary Waters.

I've heard that some graduate programs are really cutthroat. What is the EEB program like?

The EEB program has high standards. Both students and faculty expect high caliber research. But, everyone achieves through support and collaboration. Grad students read and comment on each other’s grant proposals and share research expertise.

Once you have your Ph.D., what are you going to do with your degree?   

Currently, I've taken a post-doc position working on plant genomics and I intend to pursue a research and teaching position at a college or university.

I've heard that some graduate programs are only interested in students who aspire to be a faculty member at a top research university. Is the EEB program supportive of students interested in careers at other kinds of institutions?

Many EEB students pursue positions at small colleges or outside of academia. The EEB faculty understand that the goals of grad students change during the five years it takes to get a Ph.D., and they support pursuing your passion and talent even if that is not research at a large university.