Graduate Opportunites

Beginning Autumn 2010

Thank you for your interest in studying with me at CBL. CBL offers a very strong graduate program in fisheries ecology and management through the MEES program. I plan to recruit two students for Autumnn 2010. Funds are available to work on the population ecology of blue crab, and on the role of diadromous fishes in marine. There are also funds available competitively through CBL that offer the chance for highly qualified student to work on a wider variety of projects.

1. The Structure, Function and Dynamics of Marine Fishery Ecosystems (PhD Student)

I have recently received funding through the NSF/NOAA CAMEO program to study the structure, fuction and dynamics of marine ecosystems. The project will involve analysis of existing data on patterns of abundance and trophic interactions among fish species and their prey in the northwest Atlantic. We have proposed a hierarchical approach to describe and quantify the influence of connectivity among regional ecosystems on overall patterns of sustainability. This project is a collaborative effort with Drs. Jason Link (NOAA-NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Mike Wilberg (CBL), Rob Latour (VIMS), Mike Frisk (Stony Brook), Howard Townsend (NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office) and Alida Bundy (DFO-Canada).. The student working on this project will be expected to develop a dissertation project around the funded work. The student will have access to the extensive monitoring data that has been accumulated by NMFS. The position tenable as early as Sept 2010.

2. Population ecology of blue crab (Ph.D. studentship)

Blue crab supports the last great fishery on the Chesapeake Bay, yet the population ecology of this animal remains enigmatic. My research program on blue crabs, developed since my arrival at CBL, has two main motivations. Most fundamentally, the latitudinal and local distribution of blue crab offers the ability to test fundamental life history and population dynamic questions regarding tradeoffs between growth and reproduction. From an applied viewpoint, the species supports the single most valuable fishery in the region, and yet we lack quantitative tools adequate to assess the status and trends in its population. My group’s research has involved population modeling, stock assessment, geostatistical analysis and laboratory experiments to generate a better understanding of crab growth.

We are funded to complete the next assessment of this species, and as a part of that project, funds are available to undertake some basic research into the population dynamics of this species. The student working on this project will be expected to develop a dissertation project around the funded work. It is anticipated that research would likely include spatial modeling of theblue crab population. The student would be resident at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, but would matriculate through the MEES program at the University of Maryland. A competitive package of salary, tuition coverage and health benefits is available. The position tenable as early as Sept 2010, but a Jan 2011 start is more likely.

My overall philosophy regarding graduate education is that I view and treat students as potential colleagues. As a student I would expect you to attend and present at national meetings, publish in the primary literature and collaborate fully throughout CBL. In return, my role is to facilitate your success and provide professional connections when we can't solve your problems between ourselves. In short, my role as an advisor is to give you the tools you need to be successful scientifically and in the job market.

As you are aware, CBL is a part of the University of Maryland System. The lab is located about 1 hr drive south of Washington, D.C. in Solomons, MD. You would live and work in the Solomons area, taking what courses you need at CBL or over an interactive video network. Solomons is a small town on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. Historically it was an "oyster" town, but currently it is more responsive to the tourist industry. CBL has a total of 23 faculty at the lab with interests ranging from ecology to marine geochemistry. Within the fisheries area there are five faculty members. Consequently, we offer an excellent programme in both basic and applied issues. Together with faculty at other University of Maryland campuses we offer a "Fisheries Area of Specialization" within the Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Studies (MEES) Program administered through College Park. Acceptance into the Fisheries AOS is a two-step process. First you must apply to the MEES program at College Park. Members of the Fisheries AOS will then review your file and determine your general acceptance into our program based upon GPA, GREs, letters of recommendation, etc. You may obtain an application packet for the MEES program by contacting the MEES office at 301-405-6938. Most of the 40+ students at CBL are supported directly off of research grants. However, there are also three competitive fellowships awarded each year. Each fellowship is tenable for up to three years and covers tuition and salary. These awards are highly sought after, and you would need good GRE and GPA scores to be competitive. You can find out more about CBL by visiting our web site at

If you remain interested in my research programme, please contact me again to discuss how you might fit into my research programme. Do not hesitate to email or phone me to discuss my research and life at CBL in general.


Tom Miller


Last revised: 9/20/2010