Prospective Students

This page is maintained by Dr. Rick Starr, although the content generally applies to all ‘Research Faculty’ here at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML).

What is research (or adjunct) faculty status?

Research faculty are subject to similar standards of review and promotion as full professors, though they are not considered “tenure-track”.  The salaries and research of these faculty members are supported fully or in part by grants (soft money).  Research faculty are not required to teach or advise students, but do so for the benefit of the MLML community as well as their own research objectives.

Are you taking students?

Yes, but there are some conditions. Research faculty accept and advise students with a tenured or tenure-track faculty as a co-advisor. In many cases, this co-advisor remains “silent” and exists only on paper. However, you can use a co-advisor to your advantage (if you choose wisely), adding an element to your research that your primary advisor cannot provide alone. With respect to the unique advisorship provided by adjuct faculty, you need not worry about our commitment to you or to your success in the program. Please review the MLML Graduate Student Handbook for additional information about this arrangement, the most up-to-date information regarding MLML’s graduate program and all associated policies.

How does admission to MLML work?

Please read over the MLML website for more complete information about this process.  We will reiterate the main points here and note how they vary when applying to work with a research faculty member. First, you need to be accepted to Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ program. To apply to be a student at MLML, you need to apply to Graduate Admissions at one of the consortium schools that are affiliated with the lab. These are San Jose State University, California State University East Bay, Sacramento State University, Fresno State University, San Francisco State University, California State University Stanislaus and Cal State Monterey Bay. The school that accepts you will become your ‘home’ institution. Acceptance decisions are usually made by the faculty at MLML and then relayed to the home institution and finally, on to you. In the situation of co-advising, adjuct faculty discuss desirable candidates with potential co-advisors.

The school that you choose as your home institution matters little in the long run. You will spend most, if not all, of your time at MLML and will likely never need to visit your home campus (except, perhaps, to turn in your thesis). Be aware, however, that the requirements for acceptance (e.g. GRE scores), maintaining student status and ultimately graduation are determined by your home institution (not by your advisor).   Also, some campuses require that students obtain another tenured CSU faculty member for their thesis committee. In this case, students can go to their home institution to seek out faculty who may have some interest and advice to bestow on their particular project.  Note that you should check out each of the consortium schools and decide which one is right for you.

What factors affect your decision to take a student?

As a general rule, we do not accept students without meeting them first and we can only accept new students if there is space (which is usually very limited).  Please note that even if one of us is unable to be your primary advisor, we can serve on your committee. If you plan to conduct research directly related to our work, however, you should try to become a student through us.

We expect the students that we accept to have research interests that overlap with ours, or we simply cannot advise you effectively. We expect you to have a good undergraduate GPA and GRE scores, and most importantly, good letters of recommendation. Having some research experience is a good idea and can make up for less than perfect grades/scores. We are looking for students who are hard-working, self-starters, dedicated and, most importantly, know why they want their MS degree in marine science (note that MLML cannot currently award the PhD degree). Again, strength in these areas can sometimes make up for less than perfect grades/scores. It will help us in our evaluation process if you include a short, concise, well written, statement of purpose when you contact us (outlining your research interests, why you want to get an MS degree, why you would like to attend MLML and what brought you to one of us).

You should also realize that MLML, in general, funds few of their students. This means that unless you are among the lucky few who lands a teacher assistantship during any given semester, you will likely have to work outside of the lab to make ends meet. We write grants to support ourselves and try to include student support in those grants, but there are no guarantees.

What to do next?

Make sure you have read and are familiar with all of the admissions and academics information provided for prospective students on the MLML homepage. If you are still interested in working with one of us, here’s a checklist to help you through the process:

  1. Think about what you want to do and determine if your interests match ours.
  2. Prepare a statement of purpose telling us why you want to come to MLML.
  3. Email us with your interests and all of the appropriate documents.
  4. Contact Graduate Admissions at one of the consortium schools that are affiliated with MLML and determine what you need to do to apply.
  5. Contact us and arrange a visit to MLML so that we meet in person. We should work together to determine if the program is right for you, to identify the best co-advisor and, if appropriate, to get you admitted.