Dr. Karen E. Hodges  Professor, Conservation Ecology

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers

Faculty jobs, another degree, government positions, consulting – Where will your interests take you?

Former trainees in my lab have moved into a variety of positions, some that involve research, others than focus on management or the application of scientific information.  I am interested in supporting students with a variety of career aspirations, as long as students commit to doing – and disseminating –high quality research for their degrees.

I am committed to supporting a diverse, equitable lab group, and helping to advance the careers of people from groups that are under-represented in ecology.  I thus foster discussions in my lab about systemic and implicit bias; inequities in funding, publishing, and citations; and including equity considerations while hiring or while building research partnerships.

Expressions of interest from potential postdoctoral fellows are welcome at any time, either in relation to the research topics addressed specifically in these pages or on related topics.

Below, I outline some graduate student positions that are possible in the near future.  Potential graduate students interested in working on topics or systems other than those listed below are also welcome to inquire, but please be advised that students are accepted only when adequate funding is in place to support each student’s research.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for fellowships and scholarships to support their degree aspirations.

Field projects

1.  Pending some funding decisions, I anticipate 2-3 new fire-related projects on small mammals, hares, and potential predators, with work to start in 2022 or beyond.

2.  I may be able to support a new project to continue working on grasslands treated with biosolids, building from several previous years of work we have done in this grassland ranch system.  The position would focus on our emerging understanding of trophic and community interactions as these grasslands experience this nutrient addition, with work on insects, birds, and mammals.

3.  If students have their own ideas or partnerships for field-based projects, I would happily explore options for whether I could support such projects.

Modeling, synthesis, and meta-analysis projects

A major unresolved problem in biogeography is the extent to which densities, survival, and reproduction vary across species’ ranges, let alone the mechanisms driving such variation.  This lack of understanding damages efforts to predict range expansions related to climate change.  These projects are desk-based, making use of population modeling (e.g. population viability analysis) and spatial analyses.  They are ideal for students interested in advancing their modeling skills while addressing questions with direct policy and management implications.

  1. Range-wide demographic analysis of selected mammal species.  This student will select several Canadian mammal species then collate demographic data (densities, survival, reproduction, dispersal) from the literature from across the species’ ranges.  The student will address how variable vital rates are in space and time, and will build population models for each species using the collated data to project population growth rates and to estimate missing vital rates.
  2. Meta-analysis on range shifts.  Climate change is inducing many range shifts, both expansions and contractions.  At present, our ability to predict what any given species or peripheral population will do is quite limited.  The student on this project will use species’ traits, environmental and climatic variables, habitat variables, and demographic information to model range-edge dynamics (expand, contract, stay stable).  The focus will be on Canadian mammals and reptiles.
  3. Critical habitat designations.  I have on-going interests in how the US Endangered Species Act and Canadian Species at Risk Act are implemented.  I foresee an opening for a student to review recent critical habitat designations in both countries, especially in relation to how disturbances are incorporated during decision-making.

Biology Graduate Program

The Biology Graduate Program offers MSc and PhD degrees in Biology. Most students enrol in September, but January and May admissions are also possible if circumstances warrant.   The MSc requires 12 course credits at the graduate level and a research-based thesis.  The PhD requires a research-based dissertation, coursework at the discretion of the advisory committee, and some kind of outreach based upon the research topic (e.g. engagement in schools, community groups, government advisory committees). Please visit the UBC Okanagan College of Graduate Studies webpages for more information about graduate studies at UBC Okanagan, including information on how to apply.

People interested in working with me are strongly encouraged to contact me first, prior to applying formally.

Undergraduate students

Directed studies (Biol 452).  This course offers students a chance to pursue in depth a topic of their choosing via original research, extensive reading or mathematical modelling, and weekly discussions.  A range of topics are possible; former students examined conservation policy, global amphibian declines, response of wildlife to wildfire, and analysis of movement data.

Honours Projects (Biol 440).  Students who wish to undertake an Honours Project are encouraged to contact me as early as possible with their ideas after having consulted the UBC Okanagan calendar to check whether they meet the requirements. Projects may be undertaken in conjunction with graduate projects or may be entirely separate.  Students undertaking these projects are encouraged to explore NSERC’s USRA program and the Barber School’s URA funding program to help support research costs.  Students are encouraged to talk to me as early as the fall of their 3rd year about possibilities, especially if fieldwork is desired as a component of the thesis.

Field or lab assistants.  Undergraduate students are regularly hired as field or lab assistants to support the graduate students’ field projects. People hired directly as field assistants do not undertake their own research projects, but they do work closely with other researchers and will learn field and research skills. Most of these positions require people who are comfortable working outside in rugged and remote areas for extended lengths of time.

Work-study positions. During the school year, I sometimes have a position available for a work-study student.