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Graduate Research

We are looking for enthusiastic, creative, motivated, and hardworking graduate students (MS and PhD) to join us in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

Students interested in doing research on conservation science, freshwater ecology, macroecology, conservation psychology, and ecological statistics are encouraged to apply. Exemplar research questions include (but are not limited to):

  • How do human activities affect the environment, and what are the implications of such environmental impacts on human livelihoods?

  • How would future demand for food and bioenergy impact biodiversity conservation?

  • Can we change human attitudes toward conservation and climate change by modifying the way we frame these issues?

  • What factors drive species distributions, temporal stability of species assemblages, and different facets of species rarity among communities?

These and other related questions can be answered through field research, statistical modeling of existing data, and theoretical work. We work in the forests and human-dominated agricultural lands in SE Asia and the southern Appalachians; students can leverage on existing connections and local knowledge to design their own projects in collaboration with me and other lab members and/or local collaborators.

Applicants who are quantitatively minded and have had research experience in ecology, conservation science, statistics, or in a field related to the proposed graduate research, would be most competitive for graduate research positions. Teaching and other fellowships that come with a stipend/salary are available to admitted students.

I encourage interested applicants to contact me (Xingli Giam; with the following information: (1) CV; (2) Copies of transcripts; (3) Summary of research experience; (4) Statement of research interests and potential project topics; and (5) GRE results (optional; note that GRE results are not required for an official application starting from this year). The departmental deadline for Fall 2019/Spring 2020 admission is Dec 31 2018, but I ask that you contact me as soon as possible.

Undergraduate Research

We are always looking for bright, curious, and committed UT undergraduates to join our lab. Undergraduates who are broadly interested in exploring research in ecology and conservation science are encouraged to contact us. Depending on the nature of the research pursued, students may be eligible to obtain academic credits for their research either by enrolling in EEB 400 Undergraduate Research, EEB 407 Senior Thesis Research, or EEB 493 Independent Study. Interested students are encouraged to email me ( to discuss research opportunities.

Undergraduate Positions
Postdoctoral Positions

Postdoctoral Research

Thinking about doing postdoctoral work in our lab? I encourage prospective candidates to write to me about your interests and project ideas at least 6 months to 1 year before your anticipated start-date. I will be excited to develop a postdoctoral fellowship proposal and research project with you. Relevant funding opportunities include the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program, NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program, Ford Foundation Fellowships Program.

Our Commitment To Diversity and Equity

Diversity and Equity

Our lab is inclusive, welcoming, and committed to advancing diversity; we welcome everyone regardless of their ethnicity, color, socioeconomic background, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and age. We especially encourage members of historically underrepresented groups including (but not limited to) people of color, women, veterans, and people from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to inquire about  opportunities and apply to join our group.

Why EEB at UT?

Why EEB at UT?

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is home to an energetic, diverse, inclusive, and collaborative group of faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students working in various disciplines in ecology, evolutionary biology, and behavioral ecology. Our students are highly talented and motivated: in 2015-2016, our graduate students have published >80 papers in top journals such as Science, Ecology, Systematic Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and American Naturalist. Among all graduates from 2000-2015, 43% have gone on to a tenure-track faculty position, 22% to a postdoc position, and 15% to a government position. In a recently published quantitative ranking of ecology departments in North America, EEB is ranked 21st out of >250 departments in terms of academic productivity .


The Giam Lab, EEB, and the university as a whole, are strongly committed to creating and sustaining a welcoming, supportive, diverse, and inclusive studying and working environment. For example, graduate fellowships are available for members of underrepresented groups in science. Department members also meet once a month to celebrate and value diversity in science, discuss issues regarding the unique challenges that women (or other underrepresented groups) face in science, and learn strategies to help women in science succeed. These discussions are open to all students and faculty – men and women alike – and will include guest speakers. Further, we have co-hosted a seminar series that invites internationally renowned as well as promising early career women scientists to present their cutting-edge research and mentor graduate students, postdocs, and early career faculty members.


The city of Knoxville, Tennessee, is well-known for its diverse and vibrant community. With 86 miles of greenways, hiking trails, as well as dedicated mountain/downhill biking trails in Knoxville alone, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Further, the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only an hour drive away! There are also many festivals and parades throughout the year. The live music scene is active and varied; we get our fair share of touring indie bands visiting Knoxville for shows as well as local classical, bluegrass, old-time, and country groups. Food lovers would be pleased to know that the culinary scene is growing rapidly, with an increasing number of affordable restaurants, cafes, and brewing companies located throughout the city.

Join Us!

Dr. Xingli Giam measuring the pH and conductivity of a stream in Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia, with the help of our local partner, Ms. Mega Triani, from JATAM KalTeng.

Dr. Matt Troia transferring Tennessee shiners (Notropis leuciodus) into acclimatization tanks in our "fish room".

Undergraduate research assistant, Rajeev Kumar, working on thermal tolerance experiments.

Paedocypris progenetica, the smallest fish in the world, sampled from a highly acidic blackwater stream in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Illegal logging in a peat swamp forest in Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.

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