Considering grad school?
My students mostly study the evolution of cooperation, in systems ranging from legume cover crops to test-tubes full of evolving yeast. For example, why do symbionts like rhizobia invest resources in costly activities that help their host (and competing symbionts sharing that host) rather than using those resources for their own reproduction? PhD students Toby Kiers and Ryoko Oono found that, when a soybean or clover root nodule fails to fix nitrogen, the plant often imposes "sanctions" on the rhizobia inside, reducing their reproduction. But does that translate into lower fitness for rhizobial "cheaters?" Or do density-dependent effects equalize the number of rhizobia released into the soil? And how do the relative numbers of rhizobial cooperators and cheaters change during the months or years between hosts? Is the starvation-resistant "persister" form, discovered by PhD student Will Ratcliff, key to long-term survival in soil?
I am interested in a variety of topics, but prefer to have students work on something related to a current grant, so they can be supported more by a Research Assistantship, rather than having to work as a Teaching Assistant every semester. Getting some teaching experience is highly recommended, though. I have two grant proposals submitted on legume-rhizobia cooperation.