What is Research (or adjunct) Faculty status?

We are subject to similar standards of review and promotion, however, we are not on the “tenure-track”. Our salaries and research are supported fully or in part by grants, a.k.a. “soft money.” We are not required to teach or advise students, but do so for the mutual benefit of the Moss Landing community and our own research programs.

Are you taking students?

Possibly, depending on the number of students currently in the lab, but there are conditions that apply in this situation. We can accept and advise students but only if there is a member of the tenured or tenure-track faculty that co-advises the student. In many cases, this co-advisor remains “silent” and exists on paper only. You can use the co-advisor to your advantage though if you choose wisely, and add an element to your research program that we alone cannot provide. In all cases, if one of us accepts you, we will be your primary advisor. You need not worry about our commitment to you or your success in the program, regardless of title. There is additional information about this arrangement in the MLML Student Handbook, which should always be referred to for the most current information regarding the graduate program and the associated policies and practices.

How does admission to MLML work?

The MLML website has more complete information about this process, and you should read that information carefully. However, we will reiterate the main points here and note how they vary when applying to work with a Research Faculty member. First, you need to be accepted to Moss Landing Marine Lab’s program. To apply to be a student at Moss Landing Marine Labs, you need to apply to Graduate Admissions at one of the consortium schools that are affiliated with the lab. These are San Jose State University, California State University Hayward, Sacramento State University, Fresno State University, San Francisco State University, California State University Stanislaus, and California State University Monterey Bay. The school that accepts you will become your “home” institution. Acceptance decisions are usually made by the faculty at MLML and then relayed to the home institution and on to you.  In the situation of co-advising, we let the faculty member know that we want to accept a student and we sit down together and review your file.

The school that you choose as your home institution matters little in the long run. You will spend most, if not all, of your time at MLML in residence at the lab and will likely never need to visit your home campus except perhaps to turn in your thesis. Be aware, however, that the requirements for acceptance (i.e., GRE’s or not), maintaining student status, and ultimately graduation are determined by your home institution; not by your advisor. Also, some campuses require that students obtain another tenured CSU faculty member for their thesis committee and we have none with the necessary specialty. Students can then go to their home institution for another committee member who potentially has some interest and advice to bestow on the project. This usually works smoothly for all involved, but be aware of the requirement. You should check out each of the consortium schools and decide which is right for you.

What factors affect your decision to take a student?

As a general rule, we usually do not accept students without meeting them first.

We can only accept new students if there is space in our “lab” for them.  Currently, we have very limited space. This will severely limit the number of students that we can accept for the time being. You should keep in mind that even if a Research Faculty member is not your primary advisor, we can serve on your committee. If you plan to do work directly related to one of us, however, you should try to become a student through us.

We expect the students that we accept to have research interests that overlap with ours, or we simply cannot advise you effectively. We expect you to have a good undergraduate GPA and GRE scores, and most importantly, good letters of recommendation. Having some research experience is a good idea, and can make up for less than perfect grades and scores. We are looking for students who are hard-working and dedicated and, most importantly, know why they want their MS degree in Marine Science (note that MLML cannot currently award the PhD degree). Again, strength in these areas can sometimes make up for less than perfect grades and scores. It will help us in our evaluation process if you include a short, concise, well written, Statement of Purpose when you contact us that outlines your research interests, why you want to get an MS degree, and why at MLML with one of us.

You should also realize that MLML, in general, funds few of their students.  This means that unless you are among the lucky few that lands a TA or RA position during any given semester, you will likely have to work outside of the lab to make ends meet.  We write grants to support ourselves and try to include student support in those grants, but there are no guarantees.

What to do next?

Make sure you have read and are familiar with the Information For Students provided on the MLML home page. If you are still interested in working with one of us, here’s a checklist to help you through the process.

– Think about what you want to do and determine if your interests match ours
– Prepare a Statement of Purpose (tell us why you want to come to MLML)
– Email us with your interest and Statement of Purpose
– Contact Graduate Admissions at one of the consortium schools that are affiliated with the lab and determine what you need to do to apply.
– Contact us and arrange to visit MLML so we can talk with you. We should work together to determine if the program is right for you, to identify the best co-advisor, and to get you admitted.