Information for Prospective Students

I welcome inquiries from potential students interested in a variety of ares of interest in evolutionary biology and systematics—as long as the questions of interest are close enough to my area of interest that I can provide sufficient guidance.  Thus, students interested in taking an evolutionary approach to a wide variety of subjects are welcome to apply.  These include but are not limited to the study of phylogenetic systematics, comparative methods, character evolution, phylogeography, population and conservation genetics, biogeography, and the evolution of animal behavior.

Students are encouraged to develop their own topics for study and to pursue original research of their own design.  Studies that use molecular phylogenies to test evolutionary hypotheses are particularly encouraged.  Students may also take advantage of numerous projects that are in progress in our lab group (either in collaboration with other lab members or myself) but I encourage students to pursue their own dissertation research with their own questions.  Aside from being an Associate Professor at KU's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I am the Curator-in-charge of KU's Herpetology Division at the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute.  As such I am most qualified to advise students who want to use amphibian or reptilian model systems in specimen-based research, but I do not exclusively advise students in herpetology. 

I think it is extremely important that students develop their own evolutionary questions and model systems for independent dissertation research.  But I like to work in collaboration and so I welcome students with interests that overlap with my own.  If you are interested in discussing the possibility of applying to KU to work with me, please take the time to determine if your interests are compatible with the kinds of work being conducted in our lab. In addition to our laboratory webpage and publications list, take a look at the the EEB webpage, the KU Herpetology division webpage

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me directly (rafe at

Additional information on other KU Herpetologists can be found here.