Eric L. Walters

Associate Professor

Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University




Joining My Lab

We have many opportunities in the Walters Lab.

I will consider those seeking postdoctoral studies, graduate studies, field assistant positions, volunteer opportunities, foreign exchange positions, or undergraduate research. Please stop by my office (in Virginia August-March, in California April-July), or send me an email and we can talk more.

1. Graduate Studies

January 2018 --- I am currently looking for an exceptional PhD candidate to work on my Acorn Woodpecker project. This person must have a strong interest in behavioral ecology (while I am not opposed to conservation research, this project is more suited to someone with more pure theoretical / basic research interests rather than applied questions). This project has served as one of the model systems in our study of the evolution of cooperative breeding. The population has been monitored for nearly 50 years and represents one of the longest continuous vertebrate studies in the world. This is a unique opportunity to join our international research team. You will also need to be able to rope climb trees up to about 70 feet (~20 meters). If interested, drop me a line and tell me how awesome you are.

If you are interested in a graduate position with me, please send me the following:

  • a letter of interest (PLEASE DON'T ASK ME IF I AM TAKING STUDENTS - I will always make room for an exceptional candidate) that tells me about your specific research interests (and PLEASE don't tell me something vague like you are "interested in conservation" or "something to do with birds" - I will just toss your application), background, types of questions you are interested in, etc.;
  • an unofficial university transcript (your undergraduate GPA should be >3.5);
  • your Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores (verbal and quantitative should be >316; ALL applicants, no matter what country you are from, must take the GRE);
  • your CV

If English is not your native language, you must also take the TOEFL or IELTS.

Graduate students will be supported in one of five ways:

  • A Dominion Scholarship (PhD applicants only) is available to qualifying applicants (undergrad GPA=3.2 (overall), 3.5 (in the major) and a GRE >300), a stipend of $18,000 per year (no teaching required) and full tuition exemption;
  • A teaching assistantship (PhD or MS applicants) stipend of $15,000 per year (teaching required) and full tuition exemption;
  • An external fellowship / scholarship (e.g. NSF GRFP) - I will provide feedback to prospective students that wish to apply for an NSF GRFP on the condition that they commit to working with me should they be successful;
  • A research assistantship funded by one of my grants;
  • Self-funded (GI Bill, etc)

Please indicate what category of support is applicable to your application. Students with external fellowships or those that are self-funded, for example, have a much greater likelihood of being accepted into the program.

In order to be considered for a graduate position in my lab, all prospective graduate applicants must eventually visit me at ODU (or in California, Apr-Jul) and meet with me face-to-face. I will not accept graduate students that I have not met in person. Please plan accordingly.

Please also read my Primer On Getting Into Graduate School.

2. Field Assistants

All of my projects require field assistants. They are the bread & butter of any research program. I have a number of field projects that need field assistants. Because these positions are quite competitive, you will need to have some sort of experience (beyond having worked at an animal rehab facility, a pet store, a field course in some exotic land, or a veterinary hospital). I want individuals with field experience and a strong interest in behavioral ecology, conservation biology, or community ecology. Typically I hire individuals in their "gap year" - those that have recently graduated and are in the process of applying to graduate schools. To find out what opportunities are available, please refer to my employment page. Please also read The Top 5 Mistakes Undergraduates Make When Applying For Field jobs.

Please see my employment page for more information.

3. Volunteers

We have lots of opportunities for volunteers. Whether you want to gain field experience or help out in the lab, we have plenty of projects on the go. What we do require is that you make a commitment for an entire semester, preferably putting in at least 10 hours per week. In return, you will either get academic credit and / or future letters of recommendation; not to mention valuable research experience and a feeling that you are doing a good thing to help the environment and your career.

4. Undergraduate Studies

Many students graduate from college without any research experience. This is your chance to gain research experience while earning academic credit. Why not do something you enjoy and get credit for it? It's a win-win situation. Come speak to Dr. Walters about potential projects and how you can help your career while making an important contribution to our overall research program. If you are contemplating graduate school, undergraduate research experience is a must. See my Primer On Getting Into Graduate School for more information on this.

Find out more about potential projects

5. Postdoctoral Positions

I am always interested in working with prospective postdoctoral candidates that share common research interests. I am happy to discuss possibilities for postdoctoral positions, but these will likely involve writing proposals to acquire funding. If you are interested in working in my lab, please contact me and include a CV and a brief synopsis of your research interests and what ideas you have for the direction you'd like to take for your postdoctoral work. I will certainly entertain the possibility of co-writing an NSF, EPA, or other type of proposal with you.

6. Foreign Exchange / Placement

Many foreign programs require that students find a potential advisor to gain research experience. While I am interested in sponsoring such foreign students, I do not have financial resources to support them. If you wish to work with me as a foreign sponsor, you will need to have your own funding for your time in my lab. Also, if you do want to work with me, do not include me in a mass email to several hundred potential PIs. Send one email at a time. I don't want to go to the trouble of speaking with you only to find out that you are negotiating with several other labs. Please have the courtesy to contact me, and only me if you are serious about working with my lab.

Eric L. Walters 2018 All rights reserved.