GRADUATE STUDY AT THE
MARYLAND CENTER FOR SYSTEMATIC ENTOMOLOGY
The Maryland Center for Systematic Entomology (MCSE) is a consortium for research and graduate training in the systematics and evolution of insects and other terrestrial arthropods. It combines the resources of a major university with the world's largest community of arthropod systematists and its associated collections and facilities.
The Graduate Program
At the University, MCSE students receive formal instruction in arthropod classification, evolution, structure and function , and in all aspects of systematic theory and practice. Details of the curriculum and requirements can be found in the department's Graduate Guidelines booklet. An integrated, consecutive pair of courses, with instructors and participants from multiple departments, introduces students to systematic theory and methods and molecular systematics. Many students also take a course on taxonomic description , developed in cooperation with the systematics program at nearby George Washington University, taught at and drawing on the expertise in the National Museum of Natural History. Each Wednesday afternoon, MCSE students meet to discuss their own work, then join a campus systematics discussion group that draws participation from several departments. MCSE training benefits from the strength of the newly-formalized campus-wide program in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (BEES) , which includes faculty in several departments with interests in systematics, insect evolution, or both. The University is also a member of the Organization for Tropical Studies, giving MCSE students the opportunity to participate in OTS field courses.
MCSE students typically have both a University of Maryland advisor and a co-advisor in their particular taxonomic group, who becomes an adjunct faculty member at Maryland. Co-advisors are drawn from among the Curators in the Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History , part of the Smithsonian Institution (SI), or the Research Entomologists in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Both units are housed mostly in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.. Door-to-door travel to the Museum from campus takes about 40 minutes using the subway. Several Systematic Entomology Lab scientists work at the USDA's Beltsville Research Center, a few minutes from College Park. Collectively, the research interests of these Smithsonian and USDA systematists encompass tropical biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, behavior, molecular systematics and systematic methods, in addition to the systematics and biology of virtually all major groups of terrestrial arthropods. MCSE dissertation topics have been correspondingly diverse. Through their co-advisors, students gain access to the National Collections and the many other facilities of the National Museum of Natural History and USDA-Beltsville, including unsurpassed library resources at the National Museum and the National Agricultural Library. At some point during their training, most MCSE students also gain work experience in curation and other aspects of collections management at the National Museum. A steady stream of researchers visiting the Museum, including Smithsonian pre- and post-doctoral fellows, gives students the opportunity to meet many of the specialists in their disciplines. Numerous initiatives in the Smithsonian Biodiversity Programs offer the opportunity to participate in international research projects, particularly in the Neotropics.
MCSE graduates have typically gone on to tenure-track systematics positions in universities or museums, in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The University Community and the Washington D. C. Area
The campus offers many forms of recreation and entertainment, and is surrounded by cultural opportunities both in Washington and in Baltimore (30 miles away) that only a major metropolitan area can provide. College Park is also within easy reach of both the Chesapeake Bay and the Appalachian mountains.
Admission and Financial Support
Prospective MCSE students are urged to contact University faculty or museum-based systematists with whom they might like to work, at or before or the time they apply. We encourage interviews, in person or by telephone. Admissions procedures , detailed elsewhere on this site, can be summarized as follows. Formal application to the Graduate School can be made on the University of Maryland web site. Completed applications are reviewed first by the Graduate School and forwarded to the Entomology Department. A Department admissions committee then examines graduate and undergraduate grades, letters of recommendation, the statement of career and academic goals, other supporting evidence of scientific potential, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (details in Entomology Graduate Guidelines). The TOEFL test is also required for non-U.S. applicants. Students who meet the basic criteria are further reviewed by the MCSE Committee, with representation from each participating institution. The final decision is based additionally on the availability of space and financial support, and on the agreement of one or more advisor(s) to sponsor the student. To be guaranteed consideration for the fall semester and eligibility for all forms of financial support, applications should normally be complete by February 1.
For more information about the MCSE program, please contact:
Jeffrey Shultz at email@example.com
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