Frontiers Master's Program
How to apply
Applications to the EEB Frontiers M.S. program should be submitted via the Rackham Graduate School's on-line application process. No application materials should be sent to the department. The EEB application deadline is February 1 for all required materials. Please note that there is a fee waiver available to prospective students applying for this program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a code to be used when applying. Visit our application information page for more information.
Correspondence and information
For general inquiries about applying to graduate school in EEB, please contact:
For specific inquiries about eligibility or content of the Frontiers program, please contact the program director:
Program goals and admissions criteria
The NSF-funded Frontiers Master's Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan has three primary goals:
- To bring students to the study of ecology and evolution who might not otherwise have considered it.
- To give students opportunities to learn about the full range of subjects in ecology and evolution.
- To prepare students to succeed in top-rated Ph.D. programs in ecology and evolution.
- Show academic excellence and would benefit from a broad-based training program.
- Are members of a group under-represented in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology, including African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander.
- Are U.S. citizens or permanent residents
The Frontiers Program is looking for students who:
Why join the Frontiers Master's Program?
The Frontiers Master's Program is designed to attract a diverse student body interested in research within the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. Students explore the full range of research approaches in EEB – from molecular biology in labs, to field work in remote areas of the world, providing the foundation needed to continue on to a top-rated Ph.D. program.
Students become part of exciting research that has a positive impact and work with an internationally diverse student body representing dozens of countries. The program offers the opportunity to work with outstanding researchers and a faculty committed to ensuring an exciting and supportive environment for students.
The Frontier's program enables you to:
- Explore a wide range of questions in ecology and evolutionary biology and their applications to solving problems in areas such as sustainability, health, and conservation.
- Experience the full range of approaches to studying topics in ecology and evolutionary biology from field work in natural ecosystems to molecular biology in a laboratory.
- Complete a focused research project with a supportive research mentor.
- Interact with students in our Ph.D. and Traditional M.S. programs by sharing office space, attending seminars, discussion groups, fall retreat, teaching training, and core courses.
- Develop teaching skills and experience, with extensive training and ongoing support.
- Participate in research and career development workshops on topics such as career options, choosing a research topic, grant writing, presentation skills, research ethics, applying to Ph.D. programs.
- Receive mentoring and advice from the faculty program director and staff committed to enhancing the diversity of the discipline in general and our department in particular.
For specific information, see the Frontiers Program of Study page.
Profile of a current Frontiers student: Omar Bonilla
Omar Bonilla’s first summer as a Frontiers student in 2012 was spent working at the U-M Biological Station on the “Detection of sap accumulation in the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) by the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius).”“The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius, is a double keystone species, which plays an important role in the mixed hardwood forest and boreal forest of North America by providing cavities, as well as feeding sites, for many other organisms in the forest,” Bonilla said.
“S. varius feed on tree sap as a primary source of food, and has a strong preference for the sap of the paper birch, Betula papyrifera. It has been suggested that S. varius farm their own sap by girdling the phloem of the trees on which it feeds, and later it can detect sap accumulation due to the previous girdling.
“In this study, I determined that S. varius was able to detect sap accumulation due to changes in its foraging behavior. In artificially girdled B. papyrifera trees, the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers made their feeding sites at an average height of one meter above the ground, whereas the average height for feeding sites made in non-girdled trees was 3.5 meters above ground level. The height for the feeding sites in artificially girdled trees was significantly lower than in non-girdled trees. Thus, they were able to detect sap accumulation by making their feeding sites at a height just above the girds where sap accumulated due to clogging of the phloem as a result of girdling the tree.”
Bonilla earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He took part in a research experience for undergraduates program at Bodega Marine Lab, University of California Davis where he evaluated the priority effect that the first organism that settles in an empty substrata has on the marine fouling community.Bonilla is a member of Strategies for Ecology, Education, Diversity, and Sustainability Program (SEEDS) program of the Ecological Society of America. He went on a SEEDS field trip to the Mountain Lake Biological Station of the University of Virginia. He was awarded the SEEDS travel award to attend the ESA annual meeting of 2011 in Austin, Texas, where he attended the diversity luncheon and talked with Professor Mark Hunter about Frontiers, which piqued his interest in the program. In addition, he participated on the 2012 ESA-SEEDS leadership meeting, where the topic was Ecological Science and Public Policy: an Intersection of Action Ecology and is first author of the article that resulted from that meeting, published in the ESA Bulletin, October 2012. Bonilla was invited to be a part of the 2013 ESA-SEEDS leadership meeting planning committee, which took place in February 2013 in New Orleans, La.
Why study ecology and evolutionary biology?
The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology embraces education and research on virtually all aspects of biodiversity, including the origins and history of species ranging from bacteria to humans, the processes by which this diversity has evolved, and the ecological context in which this evolution takes place.
These basic sciences underlie some of the most important applied sciences in the world today, such as global climate change, sustainable agriculture, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, invasive and exotic species, conservation biology, natural resource management, and evolution of pesticide and antibiotic resistance.
Our focus on a wide diversity of organisms and how they function in the complex environments of the natural world offers a unique perspective among the life science units at the University of Michigan. In addition, the outstanding and innovative academic environment combines with a diverse campus community and a central location in dynamic Ann Arbor to make it one of the nation's most desirable universities.
Consult this list of faculty accepting students for training in their labs.Research facilities
Read about EEB's varied research, field and laboratory facilities.
The Frontiers Master's Program in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan is a fully-funded master's program. This means that students in good standing receive a stipend, tuition and health care for two years at rates determined by University of Michigan policies. Support is available for four incoming students each academic year. For more information on funding, see the Frontiers Program of Study page or check out a select list of more funding opportunities.
The U-M Frontiers Master's Program in EEB is funded by:
- The National Science Foundation
- The Michigan AGEP Alliance (Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate)
- U-M Rackham Graduate School
- U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts
- The U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology