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Graduate Study

We are frequently looking to recruit ambitious, highly qualified graduate students into our group. Students in the lab are typically given wide latitude to design their own thesis projects, provided the projects fall within the general scope of our research. While thesis projects are never simply assigned or handed to students in our lab, there often are nascent ideas or preliminary experimental findings that can be used as a launching point for a thesis. If you think you might want to consider doing graduate work with us, you are encouraged to send Dr. Lazzaro an email describing your background and interests even before submitting your graduate school application.

Our lab takes students through three different graduate training Fields: Genetics, Genomics & Development, Entomology, and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Fields are Cornell's cross-departmental graduate training programs. The structure of graduate training varies slightly across the Fields, including differences in required coursework and whether or not laboratory rotations are available. There is considerable intellectual and social exchange among students in different Fields, and Field membership has very little impact on day-to-day life in the lab.

Please note that all graduate applications must be submitted through the Cornell Graduate School, and that final admissions decisions are made by faculty committees in each Field. Application deadlines are typically in December, although they vary slightly by Field and from year to year. Mid-year applications are almost never considered.

Postdoctoral Positions

Postodoctoral research positions may be available in the lab depending on our funding situation and the background and interests of the applicant. Inquiries about postdoctoral research can be sent directly to Dr. Lazzaro. Please include a CV and a brief statement of research background and interests with your message.

Postdoctoral research can be conducted in any area relevant to the overarching research themes in the lab. However, there currently are two areas in which we are particularly looking for postdoctoral expertise.

Genetic Mechanisms Linking Metabolism and Immunity
Dietary nutrition can have strong impact on the ability of insects to resist infection. Drosophila show diet-dependent alteration in the ability to tolerate and resist bacterial infection, but the mechanistic linkages between dietary nutrition and immune defense are largely unknown. A postdoctoral researcher could study how nutritional intake might influence overall defense against infection, including through design and execution of functional genetic experiments aimed at elucidating crosstalk between metabolic and immune pathways. Ideal applicants would have experience in Drosophila genetics and/or in insect metabolism and physiology, as well as an interest in the evolutionary consequences of physiological pleiotropy.

Comparative and Functional Bacterial Genomics
Our laboratory experiments emphasize several bacterial species that were originally isolated as infections of field-captured Drosophila. These strains and species vary widely in their pathology and virulence to experimentally infected Drosophila, as well as in other basic characteristics. A postdoctoral scientist with experience in bacterial genetics and comparative genomics could conduct targeted experiments to define the mechanisms by which opportunistic infectors establish themselves in insect hosts and/or the evolution of infection-related bacterial traits. This work would ideally extend deeper than classical virulence mechanisms and host immune responses, and would include physiological interactions between the host and microbe that may determine host-genotype by pathogen-genotype (GHostxGPath) interactions. Experimentation could be extended to include environmental components for analysis of GHxGPxE. Microbial taxa of particular interest include Serratia marcescens, various species of Providencia, and Enterococcus faecalis, but work on other microbes is also possible.

Undergraduate Research

Opportunities for undergraduate research experience are sometimes available in the lab. Undergraduate researchers in our lab typically work closely with a more senior member of the group. Students who demonstrate particular reliability and dedication may earn the opportunity to conduct research more independently, including projects that may be used to earn Research Honors at graduation. Students interested in undergraduate research experience should contact Dr. Lazzaro directly.