Hewson Lab at Cornell

Team Aquatic Virus - Microbial Oceanography, P.I. Ian Hewson, Ph.D.

Information for Prospective Graduate Students

“We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile."

–Star Trek

From Ian:

OK, OK, a bit corny, but this is actually pretty accurate about graduate students in my lab. Each grad student (and undergrad for that matter) comes to the lab with a different background, different interests, and different perspectives on science. All of these are added to our distinctiveness in microbial oceanography. For this reason, I welcome inquiries from prospective students and postdocs who explain their own interests and how they fit into my lab’s mission. And resistance isn’t entirely futile!

Prospective students come (at present) through two streams of graduate study at Cornell:

Research in my lab spans these two disciplines, and enrollment in one program does not exclude participation in, nor learning of, courses and programs targeting the other discipline. In fact, a modus operandi of my lab is to build bridges between these foci of research. Each program has its own distinctiveness and procedures (and required courses).

For example, microbiology field students typically take courses in molecular microbiology and biochemistry, along with a set of modules to familiarize students with key aspects of the microbiological discipline. Students in micro also typically rotate between several labs in their first year before coming to the Team Aquatic Virus. Students in ecology and evolutionary biology take field classes and courses appropriate to the discipline; most do not rotate between labs. All students must gain experience in teaching through TAships, and most find this to be a very rewarding experience!

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Grad students at work in the field at Shoals Marine Lab in the Gulf of Maine, underwater, on boats or at the green lakes of upstate New York.

Being a graduate student or postdoc in the Hewson Lab takes you everywhere!

As with all programs in the natural sciences, my expectation is that students conduct an original set of research aimed centered around a basic question in biology. While there is a lot of flexibility in topic, ultimately we’re constrained by available funding so students research should fall under the umbrella research themes in my lab: bacterial gene expression and how it is impacted by environmental perturbation; and environmental viral ecology.

Did you know?

Marine bacteria comprise a significant fraction of biomass in the ocean – up to 80% in some places! And viruses have ~10^8 times as much C as blue whales!

Unfortunately, we don’t offer master’s programs in either field of graduate study, and we don’t have a graduate program in marine science. However, there is a lot of latitude within the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Microbiology fields to work on marine science!

For undergraduates who would like to work in my lab during the school year or summer, I welcome people who are interested in marine microbiology and viral ecology in an environmental setting. Cornell has a wide diversity of faculty involved in marine science, including labs focused on global climate change, cetacean biology, coral reef ecology, and conservation genetics of marine organisms. If you’re not so much into microorganisms, then check out the Marine Biology at Cornell webpage for faculty who work in these areas.

So if you are interested in working with Team Aquatic Virus, don’t hesitate to contact me – I’m always open to new ideas in biological oceanography! And if I can’t help you out, then I might know someone who can in the field.

Ian Hewson, Ph.D.

Send Ian an email at hewson at cornell dot edu or check out either the Microbiology graduate students page or the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate students page (both links will open a new tab).