Join My Lab

Graduate Students:

I am currently seeking intrinsically dedicated and curious students to join the Vitek lab at Stony Brook University studying vertebrate paleontology and osteology. There are current openings for PhD students to develop their own projects. I usually accept students through the graduate program in Ecology & Evolution (application information here). For those students whose research interests focus strongly on primates, there may also be an opportunity to join the lab through the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS; application information here).

Undergraduate Students:

Sometimes there are openings for undergraduates to work in the lab, either on their own projects or assisting others. However, no such openings are available at this time.

Important Information for Everyone:

Lab focus: exploring how the principles of microevolution leave their signature in the vertebrate skeleton over the long time spans of the fossil record.

Research in the lab ranges widely across the vertebrate tree of life. Students with backgrounds or interest in digital imaging (including microCT), morphometrics, and/or microvertebrate-focused paleontological fieldwork strongly encouraged to apply.

Example projects include:

  • How do individual species survive climate change, especially species that remain in the same region throughout the change?

  • How far back in time do you have to go before the morphology of extant species stops looking "modern"?

  • Does evolution between sister species follow intraspecific “lines of least resistance”?

Read the lab expectations first to give you a better sense of what you might be signing up for. After that, if this lab still sounds appealing then please contact me and provide information about why you are interested in joining and what previous experience fuels this interest. See this excellent blog post about writing to potential mentors. It is aimed at graduate students, but the advice is good for anyone.

Prospective undergraduate lab members, I also recommend that you read Ted Garland's advice on what it is like to do undergraduate research.

Prospective graduate student lab members, if you're thinking about going to graduate school, maybe becoming a professor, and you haven't yet looked deeply into what all that dream entails, I strongly encourage you to read Brian O'Meara's perspective. Then, you should also look at a broader list of options. I do not post these links to discourage you from becoming a professor. Rather, I want you to know enough to choose a career goal that fits you, then embrace that goal fully. I welcome students on all career paths into my lab as long as you can make a good case for how my lab fits in your path.

Thanks to April Wright's, Brian O'Meara's, Mariam Aly's, and Stacey Smith's, lab pages for guidance and examples of how to set expectations and talk about joining labs.