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PhD Student

Welcome to How to get SMAL Research Project! This is a National Science Foundation funded project to study the evolution of the molecular networks underlying life history traits, using the repeated evolution of dwarfism in reptiles on the Channel Islands.

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD Student to join our team and either conduct common garden reptile cell culture experiments, or conduct functional and population genomics research, and if interested helping lead the field research teams on mainland California and/or Channel Islands.



Schwartz Lab

at Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama

We currently don't have funding for more graduate students, but we welcome discussions about fellowships you may  apply for. 

What You'll Do

As a PhD student on this project you will be involved in various research projects. You will assist with designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and writing first-author and co-author scientific manuscripts. You will work closely with other members of the research team at Auburn and collaborating institutions. Our lab is focused on cutting-edge research in fields such as stress physiology, molecular biology, functional genomics (gene expression & epigenetics). As a gradute student, you will have the opportunity to to learn these other skills. Additionally, you will have opportunities to mentor undergraduate students, work with our high school teacher program, and if interested engaging is pedagogy training. 

Selected applicants will also benefit from presenting at national meetings, attending workshops, and career development opportunities.

Work Culture

In addition to your research, you will also be responsible for maintaining a positive and inclusive lab culture. Our research groups are family-friendly and value diversity to create an inclusive and equitable environment, along with the efforts by the College of Sciences and Mathematics.


We strive for our research team members to be passionate about science and working with us to create a diverse, equitable, and supportive research environment. The Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University is a highly collaborative and friendly place to work. In combination with efforts in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, we have strong support and mentoring for our graduate students and are committed to improving diversity and inclusivity within our Department and College. Our research group is family-friendly and value diversity to create an inclusive and equitable environment.

Learn more:

Auburn Graduate School


Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Program

Who You Are

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated evidence of the following:

  • strong writing skills,

  • interpersonal communication skills,

  • ability to work well with a diverse team as well as independently

  •  previous research experience (undergraduate research or MS degree)

  • would be interesting in focusing their dissertation research on in one or more of these areas:

    •  conducting cell culture experiments in reptile cell lines to test for divergence in cellular signaling.

    • population/functional/conservation genetics of the reptile populations on the mainland and islands;


Additionally, the candidate must meet the requirements for acceptance into our graduate program.

Whatever their background, they must have a strong interest in evolutionary biology and understating molecular mechanism driving life history traits.

How to Apply

1. Email Dr. Tonia Schwartz ( directly to discuss your research interests and qualifications.


2. You must formally apply through the Auburn Graduate School

(or use the orange button below).


In your email please send the following: 

    a. A Cover Letter describing your background, previous research experiences, you interests and fit for this position and what you hope to gain from doing a PhD.

    b. Your resume or CV highlighting your past employment, any research experiences, products to which you have contributed, (established cell lines, published protocols, R packages, genomic datasets),  your role in any published research papers and submitted manuscripts.

I encourage any students considering joining my lab group to reach out to my current (and previous students) to gain perspective on graduate school and working in the Schwartz lab group to see if this is a good fit for you.

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