The Department of Ecology and Evolution provides training for research
and teaching in the ecology, evolution and behavior of whole organisms,
at the levels of the organism, the population, and the ecosystem. The
research interests of our faculty include molecular evolution, population
genetics, quantitative genetics, animal behavior, plant and animal ecology,
evolutionary theory, systematics, paleontology, and related subjects.
Individual levels of study range from molecules to communities. A common
theme is the conduct of studies in a rigorous ecological and conceptual
context, and the faculty share an interest in the architecture of populations,
species and communities.
The department stresses scientific breadth and the interrelations between
various specialized fields. Students are encouraged to approach basic
biological problems with the most appropriate techniques: biophysical,
biochemical, mathematical, physiological, or organismal. Departmental
laboratories are equipped for a wide variety of contemporary research
methods. Courses in other departments may be taken for credit in ecology
and evolutionfor example, in the Departments of Organismal Biology
and Anatomy, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics and
Cell Biology, Statistics, Geophysical Sciences, Anthropology, and Chemistry.
Many students in the Department of Ecology and Evolution participate in
interdepartmental programs in genetics, cell biology, developmental biology,
population biology, theoretical biology, and evolutionary biology, and
in these programs dissertation research may be cosponsored by faculty
from different departments. Collaboration is also maintained with the
Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium for students interested in research
in systematics, taxonomy, and evolutionary biology, and with the Brookfield
Zoo for basic research in conservation and behavior involving zoo animals.
Possibilities also exist for field studies in Central America, Africa,
and other regions of the earth.
Program of Study
Most students in the Department of Ecology and Evolution complete their
Ph.D. program in about five years, though students entering with masters
degrees may finish in slightly less time. A student advisory committee
advises all incoming and second year students on academic and research
concerns. The first and second years consist largely of course work and
individual reading courses, aiming toward successful completion of an
oral general knowledge examination by the spring quarter of the first
year, supervised by the student advisory committee and the department
chair. The student and faculty advisor then choose a five-member faculty
doctoral committee, scheduling a defense of the dissertation research
proposal by the end of the second year of study.
Work in subsequent years shifts to dissertation-centered research and,
finally, preparation and defense of the Ph.D. dissertation. All students
are required to be a teaching assistant in two approved courses during
their tenure in the doctoral program. While there is no masters
program in the department, students may elect to receive the S.M. degree
upon successful completion of their dissertation proposal defense.
Entering students are expected to have received a broad undergraduate
training in biology, and a good background in related quantitative subjects,
such as chemistry, statistics and calculus. Students who are admitted
without having fully satisfied these requirements will be required to
remedy their deficiencies by taking appropriate courses during their first
two years in the graduate program.
General Knowledge Examination
Each first year student will be expected to pass an oral general knowledge
examination during the first year of study, generally no later than the
10th week of the spring quarter. This examination session shall be attended
by all three members of an examination committee appointed, in writing,
by the department chair; the committee will be composed of two faculty
members in the students general area of research, and one member
of the student advisory committee. The goal of the examination will be
to assess each students general knowledge of key concepts, processes
and issues in ecology and evolutionary biology, as covered in the courses
recommended to the student by the student advisory committee during the
students first year in the program.
Dissertation Proposal Defense
This examination consists of the submission of a written Ph.D. research
proposal and an oral presentation of the proposal in a public or closed/private
seminar format, followed by a closed discussion and examination on the
proposal presentation with the faculty committee chosen by the student
and the chair of the department. Students are expected to schedule the
dissertation proposal defense before the end of their second year.
Doctor of Philosophy
Upon successful completion of the dissertation proposal defense and admission
into candidacy for the Ph.D., students work closely with the faculty advisor
and dissertation committee on the dissertation project. During the period
of two to three years in which students do primary original research,
they also participate in seminars, discussion groups, and professional
meetings and conferences, leading to the completion of the written Ph.D.
dissertation. The Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution is awarded based upon
(1) submission of a written dissertation based on original research, which
must be approved by the faculty adviser and dissertation committee; (2)
presentation of a public seminar based on the dissertation research; (3)
following the public seminar, successful performance during an oral examination
by the dissertation committee and other relevant faculty; and, (4) acceptance
of the approved written dissertation by the University Office of Academic
Publications in compliance with that offices regulations.
Applications for admission to the department may be made at any time,
though students applying for financial support should submit formal applications
no later than January 5. We strongly advise students considering application
to the department to begin preparation of their application early in the
autumn quarter, so that all materials will arrive by the January 5 deadline.
The department requires GRE General Test scores from all applicants, and
strongly recommends submission of GRE subject test scores in biology.
Foreign applicants whose first language is not English also must submit
TOEFL test scores with their application materials.
Interested students should write to the Administrative Director, Graduate
Programs, Darwinian Sciences, 1101 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637,
for a brochure describing the graduate program and faculty research interests,
and to obtain required University application materials. Further information
also may be obtained from the departments home page on the World
Wide Web, at http://pondside.uchicago.edu/darwin,
or by sending an e-mail to Darwin@pondside.uchicago.edu.
This text was last revised on 9/05/2003.