Teaching and Graduate School


George Roderick

(scroll down for K-12 education, undergraduate research  and graduate school)

Recent undergraduate and graduate teaching

  1. Freshman Seminar, Invasive Species: Why, When and Where? (ESPM 24)

  2. Insect Natural History (ESPM 42)

  3. Invasive Species (DeCal Course, ESPM 98/ ESPM 198)

  4. Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands--Field course in Moorea, French Polynesia (IB C158 = ESPM C107)

  5. Molecular Ecology (IB C149/C149L = ESPM C149/C149L)

  6. General Entomology (ESPM 140)

  7. Environmental Forum (ESPM 201C)

  8. Applications in Population and Conservation Genetics (ESPM 290)

  9. Arthropod Biodiversity Science (ESPM 290)

K-12 education, Exploring California Biodiversity (PI: Rosemary Gillespie)

The primary goal of this project at Berkeley is to inspire in urban children an appreciation for the overwhelming diversity of life and a recognition that biodiversity is not confined to the rain forests of exotic places, but exists even within their own school yards. This project, funded by NSF, develops a learning community among graduate student fellows, classroom teachers, and their students that focuses on understanding the natural environment. Graduate fellows associated with the UC Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHM) work with middle and high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area using the facilities and resources of the BNHM and the Berkeley Natural History Field Stations. The program involves field trips, the building and studying of natural history collections in the K-12 schools, additional study of BNHM collections, and the use of interpretive tools.

Undergraduate research and science careers

Undergraduate research is an exciting way to get a feeling for what science is really all about and it can provide the opportunity for independent work.  Here is an article in Science magazine about the importance of undergraduate research.  In our laboratory, we have a number of opportunities for undergraduate research, some of which are funded by UC Berkeley sources, such as Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) and our College’s Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research Program (SPUR). Science has also just published feature articles on science careers targeted for undergraduates.  Click here for these articles and here for a list of funding sources for research.

Applying for graduate study at Berkeley? 

Since 1999, Rosemary Gillespie and I have been on the faculty at UC Berkeley, in a large multidisciplinary department (ESPM) covering all aspects of Environmental Science.  For ecologically minded students, see our Ecology@Berkeley page for a list of potential advisors and other links; for systematics and evolution, see the Systematics@Berkeley page; and for arthropod science, see the Berkeley Arthropod Science Program. The Berkeley Natural History Museums pages are also good places to see what potential advisors work on and where they work. At Berkeley, ecology and evolutionary biology are covered by 2 departments, ESPM and Integrative Biology (IB).  The programs are very similar, often confused, with cross listed courses and professors serving on each others students’ committees--you should contact the professor in either department with whom you are most interested in working.  Please ask me if you have more questions about the 2 departments.

Previously, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, I advised students in both Zoology (soon to be Biology?) and Entomology, now Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences (PEPS) and I continue on the Graduate Faculty as an Affiliate. Our students also participated in the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) graduate program. Before that, I taught at the University of Maryland, College Park, in Entomology and participated in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Science (MEES) graduate program. Respective programs should be contacted for application materials and for further information.

UC Berkeley’s graduate programs in ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, and environmental sciences, are consistently ranked very highly, though one should always think carefully about the types of data that go into these rankings, and whether these sorts of data are indicative of the program in which you may be interested.  In its 2010 ranking of US graduate programs U.S. News and World Report ranked Berkeley 1st in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and 2nd (tie) in Biological Sciences overall.  The National Research Council ranked 2 of Berkeley’s programs (ESPM and Integrative Biology) highly in is 2010 rankings (using data from 2007) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  In this ranking, Berkeley had 48 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 nationally, the most of any school.  Of course, Berkeley also has many graduate programs.  Berkeley had more NSF Graduate Research Fellows than any other school from 2000-2009 (938 out of a total 9,587).  Berkeley was also ranked 1st in a 2007 survey of faculty scholarly productivity in Environmental Sciences by The Chronicle of Higher EducationJB Grant and colleagues in the journal Conservation Biology in 2007, ranked Berkeley 6th in productivity in Conservation Biology

Among universities, a 2009 review by Washington Monthly ranked Berkeley 1st when considering what universities do for the world and local communities. In 2010, US News &World Report ranked Berkeley as the top public university. Berkeley also does well in international rankings, including the 2010 “The Shanghai List” from ARWU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, an Academic Ranking of World Universities broadly and in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the 2009 World University Rankings in Natural Sciences from Times Higher Education Supplement (UK).  All these rankings vary considerably by field and methodology.

Click here for a useful article by Walter Carson from the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America about getting into graduate school in ecology and evolutionary biology.  If you do not have access to this, email me and I’ll send you the pdf.  In my opinion, the comments in Carson’s pdf are right on the mark, especially the parts about choosing an advisor, visiting the school before applying, and talking to current students. Here is an article in Nature about choosing a mentor. Here is a PDF from Berkeley’s Academic Senate’s Graduate Council about best practices for faculty mentors, and what you should expect from them.

Click this link for some of my comments in Science magazine about careers in genomics and environmental biology.  Here is a booklet from Science Careers about planning careers in science.

Students and postdocs in our lab have gone on to a variety of careers in academia, state and federal agencies, NGO's and foundations, and the private sector.  Current and past employers include colleges and universities, nationally--Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, San Deigo State, Texas State, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, Vermont, and Washington--and internationally--Auckland, British Columbia, National Chung Hsing University Taiwan, University College London, São Paulo Brazil, Siena Italy, US Virgin Islands; the private sector, government agencies, and non-profits--BASF, Center for Biological Diversity, Field Museum Chicago, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), State of Hawaii, UC Gump South Pacific Research Station Moorea, USDA, USGS, and See our Evolab page for links to current and former students and postdocs.


déjeuner, French Polynesia