Join the Lab

Laboratory Overview: In addition to Professors Susan Foster and John Baker, our laboratory comprises scientists at three to four levels all working closely in concert.  When funds are available, post-doctoral scholars oversee research in the laboratory with the PIs.  We typically have two to three PhD students engaged in research with students in the laboratory at earlier stages in their careers.  These include students in the accelerated BA/MS program in which qualified Clark University students are able to participate tuition-free, and undergraduates at various career stages.  More insight can be obtained by looking at web pages of past and current laboratory members at our web site.  Undergraduates are added to the site only once they embark on their own projects as we often have as many as 15-20 undergraduates engaged in group research in the laboratory making the addition of all students quite unmanageable.

Post-doctoral position available: Anticipated funding should enable us to hire a post-doctoral scholar for just under three years beginning September 1, 2016.  The goal of the research is to explore the influence of phenotypic plasticity upon evolutionary pattern and process.  The research will exploit the unusual adaptive radiation of the threespine stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus, in which oceanic fish have repeatedly, and independently, given rise to freshwater populations, including thousands of post-glacial freshwater populations with origins less than 12,000 years ago.  Genetic data support this origin of freshwater populations, and confirm that extant oceanic fish are appropriate surrogates for the ancestor within geographic regions. This provides a unique and exciting opportunity: oceanic stickleback populations can reliably act as a model for ancestral populations, and can be subject to both genetic and phenotypic analysis to infer the properties of the ancestor, including patterns of ancestral plasticity and genetic variability. The research will examine the relationship between ancestral patterns of gene expression plasticity for salinity tolerance and subsequent evolution in independently evolved replicate populations exposed to similar, novel environmental conditions (oceanic to freshwater conditions). Our primary, general goals are to understand whether high levels of ancestral plasticity are associated with accelerated evolutionary rates both at the levels of individual candidate loci and in genomic regions of divergence.  Please contact Professor Foster ( for additional details.   The position is contingent upon anticipated funding.

Two PhD student positions are currently available in the laboratory: Likely funding should allow us to embark on the project described above (post-doctoral position).  We are looking for creative, engaged applicants who are interested in becoming accomplished scholar-mentors, and who would enjoy the collaborative environment of our laboratory and also that of a small research university combined with an extended research network involving faculty at five Universities.  Applicants should be interested in understanding the contributions of phenotypic plasticity to evolution in the remarkable adaptive radiation of the threespine stickleback fish from both genomic and phenotypic perspectives.  Please contact Professor Foster ( for additional details.   Positions are contingent upon anticipated funding.

Undergraduate students: Clark Undergraduates are always encouraged to contact Professors Baker or Foster to discuss the possibility of becoming engaged in laboratory research.  You know where to find us, and please feel free to do so. Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) funding is available through the University on a competitive basis for those actively engaged in research, and we have on some occasions hosted students from other institutions.