Join the lab!

The Wetzel Lab is looking for motivated PhD and MS students, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate researchers (see specific advertisements below). Please check out the research page for descriptions of some of the major projects happening in the lab. And please have a look at our publications to get an idea of the type of research we do. If these ideas interest you, please email me to start a conversation ( I’m excited to hear from you.

In general, I am looking for people who love thinking deeply about the natural world, who love plants and insects, and who want to use science to make fundamental discoveries that are relevant for agricultural sustainability or responding to climate change. Most of the lab’s work has a strong quantitative component, so potential graduate students should either have skills in statistical and mathematical modeling or be highly motivated to learn them. I am primarily looking for students interested in working with me on the projects described on the research page. Because the projects are very broad, lab members will have the opportunity to develop their own research directions within the broader context. I am also, however, simply looking for the most exciting and enthusiastic scientists I can find, so I am very open to considering mentoring students or postdocs on completely new projects. My mentoring philosophy is to treat mentees as junior colleagues, whose future success is my goal. I also strive to mentor adaptively, being hands-on when a student needs and wants close guidance and being hands-off when a student needs space to think.

I take graduate students through both the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program and the Department of Entomology. This means students graduate with a dual degree in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior and Entomology.

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PhD and MS opportunities

The Wetzel Lab at Michigan State University is seeking prospective PhD and MS students interested in studying how biological diversity or environmental variability influences insects and their interactions with plants and predators. Students would start in summer/fall 2018. The lab uses field experiments and quantitative tools to address fundamental ecological questions that are relevant to agricultural sustainability or climate change. There are currently two main lines of inquiry in the lab:

1) How does diversity and variability in plant defenses and plant nutrients influence insect herbivores and their interactions with predators? We are interested in how insects respond to plant diversity at the scales of individual physiology and behavior, population dynamics, and community-level interaction webs.

2) How does temperature variability influence interactions among plants, insect herbivores, and predators? We are interested in understanding how the increased frequency of high temperature events (heat waves) associated with climate change is changing the ecology of plants and insects.

I am interested in students who would like to collaborate with me on these projects as well as students who would like to develop novel projects related to the ecology of plants and insects in a variable world. Please see for more information. I plan to take students both through the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program ( and the Department of Entomology (


Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in ecology, biology, entomology, environmental science, or related field. Preference will be given to applicants with ecological research experience. Applicants should be interested in learning both field ecology and quantitative tools. A passion for understanding how nature works and boundless enthusiasm are key assets. The Wetzel Lab strives to be a safe space for diversity in STEM.


Students in the lab receive a generous stipend, a tuition waiver, and a travel budget. This financial support comes through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and university fellowships. Students are also encouraged to seek external fellowships through the NSF, USDA, and other sources.

*Plant-insect ecology at Michigan State University*

MSU is an exciting place to study the ecology of plants and insects. The university has a large and dynamic community of scientists working on cutting-edge questions about plants and insects in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Potential collaborators and colleagues can be found in the departments of Entomology, Plant Biology, and Integrative Biology, and across the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. The university has an extensive greenhouse facility and access to field sites on campus and at the MSU Kellogg Biological Station nearby.

Those interested in applying should read the lab webpage ( and email me ( with the following.

  1. “Prospective student” in email subject
  2. Brief cover letter describing research interests and career goals
  3. CV
  4. Unofficial transcripts
  5. Sample of scientific writing (e.g., published paper, manuscript in preparation, MS or undergraduate thesis, research paper or essay from a class)
  6. Names and email addresses for 3 references

I look forward to hearing from you!

Postdoc opportunities

We’re always on the look out for excellent people who are interested in applying for postdoctoral funding with us. Please email me if you’re interested (

Undergraduate research opportunities

The Wetzel Lab has opportunities for undergraduate students at Michigan State University. We are looking for students who are interested in the ecology of plants and insects and who want to get their hands dirty doing ecology in the lab, greenhouse, or field. I’m interested in students who want to participate in ongoing research projects. I am also interested in mentoring students on independent research projects. Usually the students I choose to mentor on independent projects have already spent some time working on ongoing projects. This allows them to get to know us and lets them get some research experience before starting their own intellectual adventure. Please explore the lab website and email me if you’re interested (