Prospective Students FAQ

This page provides helpful tips for prospective graduate students looking to earn higher degrees (M.S. and Ph.D) as well as for undergraduate students looking to gain research experience. If you are interested in joining the Seyfferth Lab group at UD, please answers to frequently asked questions below.

Prospective Graduate Students

What degree would I pursue? We accept both M.S. and Ph.D. students in three separate degree programs: Plant and Soil Sciences, Microbiology, and Water Science and Policy. Each program has different course and degree requirements, so explore each to find your best fit.

How would I be funded? Graduate students in the Seyfferth Lab are typically funded by sponsored projects or fellowships. For each, tuition and most fees are covered. Those funded on sponsored projects are considered Graduate Research Assistants and earn a stipend by working at least 20 hours per week on a project, with the remainder of time devoted to their thesis research and coursework. Most often, the project on which the student is a Graduate Research Assistant and their thesis research project are one in the same. This allows the Graduate student the ability to focus on their research without needing to find outside employment for living expenses. Some students also are employed as a teaching assistant, where they work 20 hours per week on assisting with the teaching of a course (e.g., grading, running a lab section, etc.), and having to conduct their thesis research and coursework outside of the teaching responsibilities. Some students in the Seyfferth Lab may be a teaching assistant for 1 semester.

Students funded on fellowships such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship or the USDA Pre-Doctoral Fellowship have much more flexibility in the choice of their research projects. For international students, there may be fellowships available in your home country that you could pursue. Your ability to secure your own external funding may substantially improve your chances of being accepted in the Seyfferth Lab.

What courses and background should I have in order to apply? Because the work we do is interdisciplinary, former and current students in the Seyfferth Lab have come from a variety of disciplines including soil science, chemistry, biology, environmental engineering, environmental science, food science, and agronomy. Work in the lab is largely focused on soil, water, and plant chemistry as well as advanced analytical techniques, so an interest in chemistry is essential. We also conduct field work in a variety of settings, so the ability to go from lab to field is important. The exact skill set might vary depending on the project needs. Also highly desirable is any past experience in a work setting, which can include undergraduate research experience, job experience, or vocational training.

Ok, I’d like to join the group! What do I do now? We cannot accept students without having funding for them, so it is now required to first make contact with the potential advisor first before applying to the program. To do so, send Prof. Seyfferth a resume/CV and brief statement of interest. We typically start reviewing materials for Fall entry from December to February and for Spring entry from August to September, but these may change depending on project funding. However, if you are interested in writing a fellowship application, it is in your best interest to make contact well in advance.


Prospective Undergraduate Students

Are you accepting students for undergraduate research? Yes, always. We are always looking for bright, motivated students to join the group.

Can I work in your lab during the school year or summer? Either. We have projects ongoing all year, so students are welcome to work with us at anytime during the year during regular work hours (e.g., 8am to 5pm M-F, no nights/weekends).

I’m only available for 1 hour per week during the school year, is that enough? Probably no. In order for the student to have a meaningful experience, at a minimum a solid block of 3 hours per week is needed. We have had students work anywhere from 3-10 hours per week during the school year, and ~30 hours per week during the summer.

I don’t have experience, is that OK? Yes absolutely! We will give you tasks that you are comfortable with and provide training in advance.

Will I be paid? That depends on the experience. Some students have volunteered, some students have worked in the lab while earning course credit (toward the Discovery Learning Experience requirements), some have earned a stipend through the many undergraduate research programs at UD (e.g., McNairs Scholars, Summer Scholars, CANR Summer Institute, Envision, DENIN Scholars, EPSCoR Scholars, Water Resources Internship, CENFOODS Internship), some have pursued an honors thesis, and others are paid hourly for their time. Volunteering, earning course credit, and pursuing an honors thesis are not paid.

Ok, I’m ready to apply. Now what? Send an email to Prof. Seyfferth to inquire and attach a resume and statement of interest. Prof. Seyfferth will discuss opportunities with you and provide guidance for internal funding applications.