Administration & Governance

Mission

The Conservation Sciences Graduate Program provides world class graduate training and research opportunities. We prepare leaders to develop effective solutions to conservation and management challenges through understanding coupled biological and human systems.

Administrative Home

The CS graduate program is administered by the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (FWCB) in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). The College provides funds for graduate student fellowship support, a small salary supplement to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and a part-time Graduate Program Coordinator who lends support to faculty as well as current and prospective students. Additional administrative support is provided by staff in FWCB.

Graduate Faculty

New graduate faculty may be added to the program by nomination of any Conservation Sciences (CS) faculty member. Nominees must be approved by the existing graduate faculty of the CS Program and the CFANS Associate Dean for Research and Education. New faculty are expected to contribute to the program by: teaching in CS courses, advising CS students, serving on graduate student examining and student advisory committees, or serving in the governance of the program. Each faculty member is expected to contribute to at least two of these categories during each five-year period to remain active. To ensure an involved, active faculty, graduate faculty will be asked to provide a self-assessment of their interests and involvement in the program once every five years.  Based on this assessment and the recommendation of the DGS, the Advisory Committee will vote on the assessment and recommendation to retain members who so desire for an additional five years.

The graduate faculty has primary responsibility for the administration of the program through meetings held at least once a semester called by the DGS. Decisions are made by majority vote of those voting. Votes for DGS, Advisory Committee Members, and major program changes will be done by email or online. Faculty will be given at least one week to cast their vote.

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)

The DGS serves for three years. An individual may serve at most two consecutive terms as DGS. Any program faculty member can nominate a candidate for DGS, but the Advisory Committee will be responsible for ensuring that a suitable candidate is nominated. The full Conservation Sciences faculty will vote to elect the DGS, who is then appointed by the CFANS Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education. In the event that the DGS must step down because of illness, sabbatical leave, or other unforeseen circumstances, the Advisory Committee may appoint an interim DGS who may serve for up to one year.

The DGS shall be responsible for calling faculty meetings at least once a semester. Meetings will be called with at least two weeks notice. The DGS is responsible for communicating all program issues to the tracks. In addition, the DGS is responsible for promoting the entire CS Program and the Tracks. The DGS shall chair the Advisory Committee and will be responsible for the daily administration of the CS program. The DGS reports to the CFANS Associate Dean for Research and is expected to attend the meetings of the CFANS Graduate and Research Policy and Review Committee.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee shall be comprised of three members of the CS Graduate Faculty. The DGS will chair the Advisory Committee and will be an ex officio member (with voting rights). The Duties of the Advisory Committee are to represent the needs of the Tracks within the CS program, provide oversight on the content of the core curriculum, form ad hoc committees as needed, make recommendations for fellowships, bring significant issues to the faculty-at-large for action, make policy decisions between faculty meetings, participate in other governance issues including grievances, and advise the DGS when requested.

Advisory Committee members are elected to two-year terms. Nominations for Advisory Committee members may come from Track faculty, individual faculty members, and the Advisory Committee; the Advisory Committee will be responsible for ensuring that a suitable candidate is nominated. Elections to fill vacancies in the committee will be held at the end of Spring semester. In the event that a member of the Advisory Committee must step down because of illness, sabbatical leave, or other unforeseen circumstances, the Advisory Committee may appoint an interim member who may serve until the end of that academic year.

Tracks

 All students must enroll in a Track and the Track name will appear on the diploma and transcript. Track faculty are members by association, not election. The program does not record faculty membership by Track and faculty are encouraged to associate with, and participate in, multiple tracks. Therefore, meetings of a particular Track faculty should be advertised to the entire CS program.

Conservation Science

The Conservation Science Track provides graduate education for students interested in the interface of population, species, and ecosystem biology with disciplines of social sciences, education, economics, and law.

Fisheries and Aquatic Biology

The Fisheries and Aquatic Biology Track provides graduate education for students interested in conservation, policy, and the social sciences as they relate to fisheries and aquatic resource management.

Wildlife Ecology and Management

The Wildlife Ecology and Management Track provides graduate education for students interested in conservation, management, natural resources policy, and the social sciences as they relate to wildlife biology.

Written Preliminary Exam

The Ph.D. Written Preliminary Exam is in the form of a written research proposal, no more than 8 pages, single-spaced, including figures and tables but excluding references. The proposal should describe all, or part of, the student’s dissertation. It must include a broader impacts section that clearly addresses the importance of the research to the broader community. This section can vary in length and focus as appropriate to the topic, but must be considered carefully in the review process. A successful preliminary exam proposal should be hypothesis or theory-driven, include appropriate methods for collection and analysis of data, demonstrate familiarity with the literature, and demonstrate that the student can write at a level appropriate for the Ph.D. It is expected that the student will consult with their advisor, their committee members, and with other graduate students during the writing process; however, the final product should reflect the student’s own work. The proposal should be written for a discipline, but not a specialty-specific audience. The format can vary, depending on the student’s interests and career goals, but we recommend that it addresses the requirements of a funding agency.

The preliminary written exam is associated with a 1-credit course to ensure a hard deadline and to provide students with guidance during the writing process. There is a single submission date for all students in a cohort, preferably in the first or second semester of the second year to allow time for gaining candidacy status by the third year. With written permission of the student’s advisor and committee, a student may submit their proposal with the next year’s cohort.

Preliminary exams are to be reviewed by a committee convened by the DGS. The committee will be comprised of at least three Graduate Program faculty (more will be required in years in which more students take the exam) with appropriate expertise to review the variety of proposals produced by Conservation Science graduate students. If necessary, given the number and breadth of proposals submitted, the DGS is encouraged to solicit written reviews from additional Conservation Science graduate faculty. The submission of written reviews will also keep other Conservation Science graduate faculty engaged in the written preliminary exam process.

The committee will form a review panel, chaired by the DGS. Each member of the committee will be the primary reviewer on one or more exams and will be responsible for writing a summary for those exams. Each exam will be reviewed by at least two additional committee members. The DGS is responsible for assigning proposals to the reviewers and determining their role as primary or secondary reviewer with each written preliminary exam. If possible, the committee should be constituted so it does not include the advisor or co-advisors of any students evaluated that semester. If it is not possible to establish a panel that does not include the advisor or co-advisors of the students being evaluated, the advisor or co-advisors should step out of the room when their advisees are being discussed. 

Course work

Required course work for doctoral  students is described below. Students will supplement these requirements as necessary to meet graduate school requirements and to obtain the background necessary to pursue their research interests.

  • 1 single-semester core course that serves to develop a body of common knowledge among Conservation Sciences graduate students, builds cohorts, and covers basic professional development and teamwork skills. The course should be applied and focused on addressing the key messages of our mission, providing effective solutions to conservation and management challenges through understanding coupled biological and human systems.
  • Preliminary exam preparation course.
  • Departmental Seminar: 3 semesters.
  • Quantitative course (Statistics, Systematics).
  • Coursework as required by the track in which the student is enrolled.
  • Remaining required coursework decided by SAC committee and student, consistent with Graduate School requirements.

Required course work for master’s  students is described below.

  • 1 single-semester core course that serves to develop a body of common knowledge among Conservation Sciences graduate students, builds cohorts, and covers basic professional development and teamwork skills. The course should be applied and focused on addressing the key messages of our mission, providing effective solutions to conservation and management challenges through understanding coupled biological and human systems.
  • Departmental Seminar: 2 semester.
  • Quantitative course (Statistics, Systematics).
  • Coursework as required by the track in which the student is enrolled.
  • Remaining required coursework decided by SAC committee and student, consistent with Graduate School requirements.