We are recruiting graduate students for entry in Sept 2018


The Shefferson lab at the University of Tokyo is recruiting graduate students at both the MS and PhD levels with interests in plant evolutionary ecology, for entry into the Graduate Program in Environmental Sciences (GPES, online at http://gpes.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/) in Sept 2018. We specialize in evolutionary demography and plant/microbial evolution, with particular interests in rapid evolution and eco-evolutionary dynamics. We are particularly hoping to recruit students to work on the following funded research projects:

  • Deep demography: Demographic patterns are strongly influenced by both evolutionary history and geography, but a mechanistic understanding of these relationships is still lacking. We hope to unravel it using a number of large-scale projects focused on herbaceous perennial plant species.
  • Evolutionary origins of plant-microbial symbiosis: We seek to understand the first steps in the evolutionary process leading to the development of widespread symbioses, such as the mycorrhiza.
  • Eco-evolutionary impacts of individual history: We hope to understand how long-term experience influences evolutionary processes, particularly at the micro-evolutionary scale.

  • In addition to these projects, we seek students generally interested in the following topics:
  • Micro-evolutionary interactions between symbiosis and population dynamics, with a focus on the mycorrhiza.
  • The micro- and macro-evolution of senescence-related life history patterns and life history costs, with a focus on herbaceous plants and terrestrial fungi.
  • Interactions between community structure and phylogeny at differing timescales, with a focus on the mycorrhiza.
  • Eco-evolutionary impacts of conservation problems and management.


  • Students applying to work in the lab may focus on these topics, or choose other research themes in plant and microbial evolutionary ecology. Research methods typically involve in situ monitoring and experimentation, combined with modeling and analysis based in R and/or C++. We typically work with plants and their symbiotic microbes, and students should generally be interested in these study organisms. The Shefferson lab has active field sites in the Japan, USA, and Estonia, and also regularly conducts field work in China, Central America, and Western and Central Europe.

    The Shefferson lab is located within the University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus. U Tokyo is home to some of the finest scientists in Japan, including ecologists and evolutionary biologists, and more Nobel laureates than you can shake a stick at. Komaba in particular has a particularly large community of ecologists and evolutionary biologists working on plants, animals, and fungi. The GPES program conducts all graduate education in English, although students have the opportunity to learn Japanese and take courses from throughout the U Tokyo curriculum. Our campus is only 15 minutes’ walk from Shibuya, one of the most vibrant parts of Tokyo.

    Applications to join the lab MUST be received by 24 November 2017, and students MUST INCLUDE a current, official GRE transcript. Please note that GRE scores are only valid for 5 years, so students with transcripts older than this need to re-take the GRE. Applicants with high scores, high grades, and strong recommendations will be considered for a competitive, full-ride scholarship.

    If interested, please contact me, and please also explore the Shefferson lab website.

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