We strive towards an inclusive and empowering environment for people to explore the social aspects of ecology and evolution

Core Principles

  • We believe that people are at their best when they feel safe to be themselves. We encourage all lab members to bring with them their whole selves–their culture, identity, personality, values, religion, etc.–when doing science.
  • We will lift each other up through support, collaboration, feedback and friendships.
  • We will work to actively create a safe environment, both within and outside the lab, in which everyone can thrive and fully participate in the act of discovery.
  • We will communicate with each other to collectively create an open and productive environment for all lab members.
  • We will encourage and support productive lives outside of the lab, in all spheres of life.
  • We will set ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and openness in our data and science.
  • We believe that training in research builds skills that are applicable to all types of careers, not just academic.

How our lab works

In our lab, each member has the opportunity to carve out their own research projects. This could involve expanding on work with existing study systems, or coming up with your own projects. There is no a priori requirement that you work on an existing project in the lab. Of course, there are real constraints with respect to costs, time and logistics involved with starting new studies.

For undergraduates, research experience often means working on an existing project with someone in the lab. Postdocs may come in with existing study systems that they continue to pursue, or switch to an ongoing project in the lab. For Ph.D. students, some have worked closely with me on funded projects, and others have carved completely new study systems.

One common theme in our lab is that almost everyone does some kind of fieldwork, mainly because I believe that the most interesting questions in biology are “out there” in nature. However, I encourage everyone to incorporate multiple approaches to their science, including quantitative methods, genetics/genomics, comparative studies, simulations, etc. This can help you develop a well-rounded portfolio of work that can help you in whatever career you choose.

Lab recruitment

We seek motivated and talented undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs and collaborators who share our passion for ecological and evolutionary research. You do not need to have specific research projects in mind to inquire about joining the lab. In fact, we are proud of a lab tradition of students carving out new areas of research that expand the scope of the work we do.

As a POC in the ecologist and evolutionary biologist I am well aware of the dismal lack of diversity in our field. I am eager to mentor and collaborate with more scientists of color. I am increasing efforts to seek out students of color who may be looking for mentorship and opportunities. But if we don’t find you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

About me (Dai)

I am a first-generation immigrant from Japan. I grew up in Tokyo, Houston and Chicago. I am a Japanese citizen, but I identify as Asian American and a Person of Color in the U.S. I am a proud father of two kiddos.

As a city kid, my passion for field biology and behavioral ecology grew out of books and exploring urban parks and zoos. It was not until college that I learned how to camp and hike, or to identify species of birds.

Aside from scientific research, I am passionate about empowering and supporting people from marginalized communities. I have served on the board of the Asian Community and Cultural Center–a nonprofit serving immigrants and refugees in Lincoln, NE–for 6 years. On campus, I serve on the Chancellor’s Commission for the Status of People of Color. I conduct a lot of behind-the-scenes work to bring initiatives to promote faculty and students of color in biology and in the academy. People who know me know the work I do.

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