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Open Positions

Undergraduate Students

Stanford students are welcome to apply to the lab by emailing a Statement of Interest and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement (no more than one page each) to Prof. O’Connell. We are especially interested in mentoring students from groups historically excluded from practicing science. We do not offer unpaid internships as this promotes inequity in science. Students are either paid for their work in the lab or can receive course credit. See flyer for details.

Community college students are welcome in our laboratory. Prof. O’Connell is a community college alumna and is passionate about uplifting community college students in STEM. We have funding from the National Science Foundation to support two students per summer. If you are a local community college student, please contact Prof. O’Connell with a Statement of Interest and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement (no more than one page each).

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Graduate Students

We generally accept one or two graduate student(s) into the lab each year. If you are from a group historically excluded from science, we recommend applying for the Stanford Biology Preview Program for guidance on how to navigate the Biology PhD application process. Please note that external funding is not required for admittance as Stanford fully funds students for 4 years and then our lab continues to fund students until they complete their PhD (average of 5.5 years). Most graduate students in the lab have NSF GRFPs, but these were obtained after they joined our lab and not as a requirement of admittance.

Our lab accepts students through Cellular, Molecular, and Organismal Biology (CMOB) and Ecology and Evolution (EcoEvo). There are important differences between these programs in the application and selection process.

CMOB is a rotation-based program where you spend your first year rotating through different labs learning techniques. Typically, people in the lab interested in molecular mechanisms in physiology or neuroscience are admitted through this program. Students are advised to write their application personal statement with a broadly important scientific topic that links to several CMOB faculty in the Biology department. The admissions committee is populated by faculty and graduate students from across the department who score Departmental Fit (interested in several CMOB faculty), Motivation for Science, and Achievements.

EcoEvo is a direct admission program where students join a specific laboratory (rather than rotating). Students in this program are often interested in ecological processes and broad patterns on how behavior or physiology evolve. For this process, Prof. O’Connell receives all the applications that marked our lab as a primary mentor and an internal committee of lab members scores candidates on Contributions to Diversity, Motivation for Science, and Achievements. Three candidates are then nominated to the EcoEvo admissions committee who scores all nominated applicants and one or two students receive interview invitations for our lab.

Who do you talk to about applying and what the lab environment is like? To make the application process equitable, Prof O’Connell does not video conference with select applicants. This is because there are too many requests to accommodate everyone and it takes some level of social capital to know to email prospective advisors. However, lab environment and fit are incredibly important to success in graduate school, and so grad students in the lab offer “office hours” each week in the Fall application season where prospective graduate students can ask questions about research, mentorship, and laboratory environment. Hours will be posted here each Autumn.


Postdoctoral Researchers

There are two general paths to obtaining a postdoc position in our lab.

Open searches: Open funded positions in the lab are advertised in a broad search. Broad, advertised searches result in a more diverse candidate pool and therefore is the preferred method of attracting postdocs to our lab. Application materials include a Statement of Interest and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement of no more than one page each.

When we have an open search, applicants are reviewed by an internal committee made up of graduate students and current postdocs in the lab as well as Prof O’Connell. Applicants are ranked and the committee selects individuals to interview. For the interview process, candidates present both their past research and future research ideas in a lab meeting. Candidates also meet other lab members in small groups. After all candidates are interviewed, the entire lab discusses the candidate pool at a lab meeting and an anonymous vote decides who we hire. Every person in the lab that met with candidates gets a single vote, including undergraduates, technicians, graduate students, postdocs, and Prof O’Connell.

Targeted fellowships: The other mechanism to obtain a postdoc position in the lab without an open search is to be awarded a fellowship supporting your position in the lab. This can include federal or private foundation fellowships. If you are interested in applying for fellowships, please contact Prof O’Connell with a Statement of Interest (no more than one page), a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement (no more than one page), and your CV.


Research Associates

We currently do not have any open positions for research assistants.

Job ads will be advertised here, on the Stanford Careers site, and on twitter. Technician positions generally require a CV and a Cover Letter that states why you are interested in the position. Individuals invited for an interview are also requested to submit a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement of no more than one page.