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Want to work with me? I am recruiting!

I am looking for enthusiastic and collaborative students with interests in aquatic ecology and global environmental change to join the Loewen Ecology Lab in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University. My lab studies the community and macroecology of freshwater ecosystems, with a focus on how the biota of lakes and ponds (especially zooplankton and algae) respond to compounding climate and land-use changes. Our work is both fundamental and applied, as we seek to understand the drivers of species diversity patterns and their implications for healthy ecosystem functioning and human well-being.

I am currently accepting applications from prospective PhD and MS students for start dates in Fall 2023 (or Spring 2024).

As a new principal investigator, I will be greatly invested in my students and their projects. Students will have considerable flexibility to develop independent experiments and/or observational studies (field sampling) on the topic of multiple stressors in urban and agricultural landscapes. Students may also focus on computational/ecoinformatic approaches to large data syntheses and make use of our (wet/dry) limnology lab. Funding will be provided through research and teaching assistantships offering an annual stipend, health benefits, and opportunities to develop a range of technical and professional skills. Tuition waivers and competitive fellowships are also available.

Applicants should have a relevant degree (MS/BS) and background in quantitative ecology or limnology, as well as experience with (or keen interest in learning about) aquatic field sampling and lab work, species identifications, geographical information systems, statistical computing (R or similar), and/or synthesis of large interdisciplinary datasets. Please email me (cloewen@iastate.edu) your current CV, unofficial transcripts, a brief statement/cover letter highlighting your relevant experience/background and research interests (why you want to work with me and what you want to do), and a sample of your technical writing (publication or other material). Materials will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so reach out early! Applicants with the best fit will be encouraged to apply to either the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program (due December 15) or Environmental Science Program (due January 15). GRE/GMAT are not required.

Iowa State University of Science and Technology is a public land-grant institution classified as a Carnegie “R1” research university. Founded in 1858, Iowa State is a large and storied school recognized for its beautiful campus and word-class facilities, centers, and institutes. It is located about 30 minutes north of Des Moines in Ames, Iowa, an affordable urban center with great parks and cultural events consistently ranked among America’s best college towns.


Other opportunities

My curiosities in ecology, limnology, and applied environmental science are wide-ranging and I conduct question-based research in a variety of systems, so I encourage students/postdocs that might be interested in any aspect of our work to reach out (via email) to discuss potential projects and means of funding. It is never too early to open a line of communication and I am happy to help develop/provide feedback on external fellowships.

Graduate students can pursue studies in my lab through either the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or Environmental Science programs. Undergraduates interested in obtaining research experience can participate through first year honors or other independent study programs. I also encourage undergrads interested in what we do, but looking for less formal research experiences to develop technical skills, to reach out about other ways to get involved.

Finally, I would be happy to hear from prospective postdocs. As senior members of my lab, postdocs will be encouraged to engage with student projects and contribute to our department’s collaborative culture, but also supported to pursue their own independent research programs and develop the skills/experiences necessary to advance their careers. I welcome scholars from any research background wishing to apply their unique abilities to collaboration within our group.


Lab values/philosophy

As a member of my lab, you will be joining (and contributing to) a supportive environment. We seek to build an inclusive intellectual space that welcomes students, postdocs, and other collaborators from all backgrounds. Diversity is a strength, and we pursue collaboration with people having different lived experiences and abilities to foster a variety of perspectives that enrich research outcomes and build capacity in underrepresented communities. We are committed to equitable hiring and mentoring practices and encourage all qualified persons who share this vision to apply.

I know how challenging it can be to navigate the complexities of academic and professional life, especially for first-generation scholars and those with young families. Whether you are interested in research, teaching, public service, or industry/consulting, I will share my experiences across these sectors and aim to provide individuated mentorship. My mentorship style emphasizes accountability with clear expectations for both myself and my students. While graduate studies are a long-term commitment that can be very demanding at times, I value open communication and healthy work-life balance. Lab members will be encouraged to take ownership and tailor studies to their interests. However, I will also be an active participant in projects and aim to provide training in all aspects of the research process. Students and postdocs will be afforded opportunities to develop a range of skills to serve them on the job market, including study design, proposal writing, aquatic field sampling and lab analysis, data management, statistical analysis, and scientific communication/outreach. Most importantly, I want my mentees to enjoy their time in my lab and leave having obtained the tools and experiences for the next steps in their careers.

From observing natural phenomena and forming conceptual models to testing hypotheses and updating one’s understanding of the natural world, lab members will be challenged to apply the scientific method and develop their technical, critical thinking, and communication skills.


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