Prospective Students

If you are interested in applying to the Friedlaender lab as a graduate student, we invite you to carefully read this page to get a sense of the lab and whether this lab would be a good fit for you.

Here are some answers to frequently-asked-questions:

Is this graduate program a good fit for you?

As a graduate student in the Friedlaender lab, you would be in either the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department or the Ocean Sciences Department. To read more about the graduate program requirements in each of these departments, visit these webpages: EEB Graduate Program and OceanSci Graduate Program. Information on course requirements and exams can be found in the Graduate Handbooks at each of these webpages.

How would you be funded as a graduate student in this lab?

Friedlaender's graduate students are supported by a mix of external fellowships as well as Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions. Because the Friedlaender lab's funding for students is continuously changing, we strongly encourage you to apply for an external fellowship (especially the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship ProgramNational Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and Nancy Foster Scholarship Program). For a more extensive list, check out the RC lab’s list of funding opportunities and UCLA’s well-curated list of fellowships. Your ability to secure one of these external fellowships will significantly increase your chance of being admitted as a graduate student. Once you start thinking about your fellowship applications, please reference the UC Irvine Fellowship Application Roadmap (found here) to help you prepare a successful fellowship application. We also highly recommend that for the NSF GRFP specifically, you reference the Primer written by Dr. William Head, who has served as a reviewer for the NSF GRFP Fellowship program and has mentored many students through a successful fellowship application process.

Do your research interests align with the Friedlaender lab?

The Friedlaender lab is focused on using new biotelemetry technology to understand the underwater behavior and ecology of marine mammals.  As animals that live largely out of sight from direct observation, devising new tools to measure, interpret, and quantify the behavioral ecology of marine mammals is critical.  We are interested in the behavior of animals across a range of spatial and temporal scales and how this is affected by a variety of ecological inputs. We are also interested in assessing the population demography and dynamics of marine mammal populations to better understand their recovery into the future. The lab is actively conducting work in the Antarctic on baleen whales as well as in Monterey Bay in California. Other field sites include Stellwagon bank and the Gulf of Alaska. For more details on ongoing projects visit our current projects page here.

What coursework and professional preparation should I have to apply to this lab?

We suggest you have a strong background in courses such as Ecology, Marine Ecology, Evolution, Physiology, and Biology. Although not required, it is strongly recommended that you have already performed an independent research project at the master’s or similar level. If your undergraduate degree is in a field unrelated to the EEB or Ocean Sciences Departments, a master’s degree in a related field is even more strongly recommended.

Alright, my interests align and I want to apply. What’s next?

After exploring our website, please take a moment to look around for a Current Student whose experience most closely matches your interest and email them first with specific questions. These current grads will likely be able to respond more quickly than Dr. Friedlaender  and have a lot of valuable information and advice to share.

Once you have determined that you would like to apply to the lab and have a potential research project in mind that fits in with the interests of the lab, email Dr. Friedlaender with:

  • your CV,
  • a brief statement of your proposed research project and research interests,
  • how your interests fit in with the lab’s current research,
  • names of funding opportunities you’ve acquired or are applying for.

If possible, try to set up a time to come down to UC Santa Cruz and visit the lab in person, as those interactions tend to be much more memorable. When you come down, organize a time to meet with a couple current grad students as well. We look forward to meeting you!