My research group usually consists of 1-3 undegraduates, 3-4 graduate students, and 2-4 or post-docs, a visiting sabbatical scholar, and an assortment of post-docs and graduate students who use my lab, join in the lab meetings and are generally part of the intellectual environment. The mix varies, but I aim for a group size of about 8 or 9, which is generally best for scientific productivity.

M.S. students work on projects that I have pretty much formulated and know how to proceed (they only have two years). Ph.D. students, on the other hand, need to identify their own question (so that they can claim the project as theirs) and very often I will not know exactly how to proceed -- that is part of the joy of discovery. I hope that everyone will have components in their work that are theoretical/modeling and empirical (either field, laboratory or both).

I accept students through the graduate programs in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Ocean Sciences (OS) and Statistics and Applied Mathematics (SAM).

Funding and Support

I do not maintain a large grant from which to fund students by letting them "slip into a slot" in a project. On the other hand, I have never been without a grant and I always have at least one research position associated with grants and almost always use this position to support my students. However, I can make no promises and it would be good for you to investigate NSF fellowships, an other sources such as the NMFS-Sea Grant fellowships or the EPA STAR fellowships

The typical mixture of TAships and university fellowships are also available for students. Students who are interested in fishery problems can expect some support from the Center for Stock Assessment Research (CSTAR) and should apply to the California Sea Grant/NMFS graduate fellowships in population biology.

Your Background

The ideal training is a strong background in both biology and mathematics or statistics ( for example, a double major in biology and mathematics/statistics or major in biology an minor in mathematics/statistics). This will not always happen, but you should have mathematics that includes upper division courses in differential equations and probability or stochastic processes. It would also be very helpful if you have some research experience (a senior thesis, or other written document is ideal). If you are applying with a graduate degree, the research experience is usually taken care of.

If you are interested in conservation problems, it is good to have at least one undergraduate course in economics (two would be better - such as an introductory course and one in microeconomics) and one in political science.

Because people in my research group work on a variety of different systems, we are linked by a common conceptual foundation. This is described in my books with Colin Clark Dynamic Modeling in Behavioral Ecology (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1988) and Dynamic State Variable Models in Ecology: Methods and Applications (Oxford University Press, NY 2000), my book with Ray Hilborn The Ecological Detective. Confronting models with data (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1997) and my newest book The Theoretical Biologist's Toolbox. Quantitative methods for ecology and evolutionary biology (Cambridge University Press, 2006). As I said before, take a careful look at these books, because if they do not excite you, there is no point in us thinking about working together. For example, if you want to prove theorems about equations motivated by biological systems, I am not the right supervisor.

Everybody in the group does computations. I encourage people to work in C for serious computing and R for statistics and visualization. I also have about a dozen MATLAB seats for the group.

Your undergraduate GPA should be about 3.5 or higher and your GRE scores should be good.

Almost all of us have gaps in our background. However, enthusiasm and focused hard work can make up for almost any gap. In fact, focused hard work can make up for some native intelligence and gaps, but the reverse is not true. In addition, the only thing that you can really control is how hard you work.

In the Meyer-Briggs personality test, I am an ENTJ. The key here is the "J". I encourage you to do such a test; if you come out as a strong "P" then you should carefully read and think about the implications of us working together.

Intellectual Curiousity and Intensity

My style of mentoring is to allow people to achieve as much self-guidance as possible, with me providing intellectual, fiscal and emotional (if needed) support. I am not a "boss". People working in my group learn how to transition from students to colleagues early in their graduate or post-doctoral period. Two important features for this transition are intellecutal curiousity and intensity. Intellectual curiousity is manifested, for example, in your attending departmental seminars and the weekly lab meeting because you are interested in them, not because I tell you to do so. Intensity is manifested, for example, by occassionally being consumed by a question so that you think of pretty much nothing else.

In my opinion, success in almost anything in life requires intensity, motivation and discipline. These are traits that we can develop and the payoff is enormous. There is no better place to read about them than in the books Iron on My Mind by Dave Draper, Never Let Go by Dan Jon and Advances in Functional Training by Michael Boyle. Whether you are interested in weight-lifting as a form of exercise or not, I encourage you to take a look at them since they contain much wisdom about life.


If this description appeals to you, please send a copy of your transcript and statement of pupose directly to me at the time you apply to graduate school. That way, I can keep an eye open for your application. Even better, contact me directly if you would like to visit UCSC beforehand and we can try to coordinate such a visit; in this case, the sooner the better.

If you love science and things quantitative, the exploration of a wide variety of ideas, and -- like Marc Chagall -- have a distaste for pure abstraction, the Mangel Research Group is probably a good fit for you.