To prospective graduate students:
I am always looking for bright, motivated, and highly independent graduate students. I am open to students from all majors, including backgrounds in Ecology, Botany, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Engineering, but incoming students are expected to have a usable understanding of math through a minimum of a few of semesters of calculus and/or statistics, and at least a year of physics, chemistry, and some hydrology and ecology classes. Field and research experience is a must, as is lab experience that can be helpful. I take on a mixture of MS and PhD students, and acceptance is usually driven by the availability of funding (RA) unless you can support yourself through TA or AA positions that may be available on-campus.
Students are expected to participate in regular lab group meetings along with other group lab/research activities as a team, and should also be willing to participate and assist in other students’ projects. You will learn more from your peers in graduate school and in informal discussions than you will in most courses.
A qualified student with a Bachelor's degree can proceed directly to the PhD program (fast-track option), or obtain a MS as an intermediate step to the PhD (highly recommended). Typically, the MS gives the opportunity for more publications in the course of graduate training, which increases the students' competitiveness in the job market. Also, the MS provides the opportunity to pursue two distinctly different projects in graduate school. Students with more diverse capabilities are also at an advantage in the job market. All my graduate students publish with me. I also stongly encourage my graduate students to write a lay piece of their work at the end of their graduate career and get it published to better communicate their work with the public audience. The essence of my scholarly activities is in 4Ps: Propose, Participate, Present, and Publish. I strongly believe that all graduate stuednts should be well trained in all four categories.
The common form of support for my students is Research Assistantships, combined with Teaching Assistantships depending on availability along with fellowships you can apply for. Almost all graduate students teach for more than one year, which is a great experience for many reasons. A typical mix for a 4-5 year doctoral program would be a year of teaching, a few years of research assistantship support, and hopefully a fellowship along the way as well. All of my students are strongly encouraged and expected to pursue external funding as part of their time in graduate school, including writing proposal for graduate research funding in NSF, EPA, USDA, and other regional/local organizations.
Graduate training requires focused time by the student, advisor, and group. Therefore, I have only a few students at a time, and much of this is dependent on current projects, the current size of my research group, and funding availability. Some years I will accept zero new students, and other years I have room for one or two.
If you are interested in research for my group, I encourage you to send me an email with your CV/resume, a description of your research interests, and your transcript. Be as specific as possible, as this will allow me to gauge if my group is the right place for you, or if you should look elsewhere. I will also encourage you to contact some of the current students in my group to get a sense of the work we do, and the atmosphere; they can often give you a better sense of the place than I can. An interview will follow after I review your CV.
Dr. Changwoo Ahn
I've been mentoring extensively and intensively undergraduate students over the years for research and scholarship training in a variety of majors (science, engineering, communication, business, psychology, art, theater, music, and film/media). For undergraduate students, see Mentoring Statement by Dr. Ahn –
Teaching with head, heart, and hands: a continuing journey of becoming an inspiring teacher by Dr. Changwoo Ahn
Dr. Changwoo Ahn
Professor & Principal Investigator