Information for Potential Students

We encourage both graduate students and undergraduates to apply for admission to the lab. Prospective graduate students should apply through the Duke Biology DepartmentIf admitted to the program, graduate students in the Yoder Lab are encouraged to develop their own projects, and though the subject matter and relevant scientific disciplines are not constrained, work within the Madagascar biological system is preferred.  When applying to the Department, be sure to explicitly describe your research interests, and why you believe Duke and the Yoder Lab to be a good fit for your academic goals.  Admission decisions are determined by the Graduate Admissions Committee (the “GAC”), and the department tends to favor applicants who demonstrate a clear idea of their scientific interests.

Undergraduate students interested in gaining research experience through work study or volunteering should contact Dr. Rachel Williams. Undergraduates are usually assigned projects after consultation with lab personnel in order to explore scientific interests and goals. Once in the lab, students will work with a lab mentor, usually a postdoctoral associate or a graduate student. We place a high priority on assuring that undergraduate projects translate quickly into published work.

Duke Courses

Evolutionary Genomics: Who are we, where have we been, and where are we going?

Fall 2017: Biology 128FCS; Instructor: Anne Yoder (Wed 3:05 – 5:35 p.m)

Synopsis: We are now nearly a decade into the genomics revolution.  In a matter of only a few years, this technical revolution has generated data that allow us to gaze into our past, present, and future in ways that were beyond imagining when Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection was introduced to the world more than 150 years ago.  The unification of genomic data, bioinformatic analysis, and evolutionary theory has transformed our understanding of human history, our place within the Tree of Life, and the impact that our species is having on those with whom we share the planet.  Evolutionary genomics has also allowed powerful new insights into human vulnerabilities to disease pandemics, their origins, and their likely trajectories.  This course will draw from the primary literature to familiarize students with the multifaceted power of genomics, with a slant towards examining human history and disease from an evolutionary perspective.  When possible, published studies will be read along with reports from the popular press in order to provoke discussion of science communication strategies. Readings will be drawn from a wide variety of sources, from some published more than a century ago, up through the contemporary popular press.  As 50% of your grade, students will be responsible for choosing a relevant topic for scholarly exploration and evaluation.  The results of this project will be presented in both written (a critical essay) and verbal (a class presentation) formats.


Much of our research activities have a significant focus on collaboration with Malagasy students and colleagues. Research opportunities for American graduate students are enhanced by the formation of Malagasy/American partnerships wherein Malagasy students will serve as mentor/guides while in Madagascar, with the converse being true in the U.S. By working together in a mutual exploration of the natural and biogeographic history of specific groups of Malagasy vertebrates, the student pairs can efficiently progress from field, to lab, to analysis, to completion and write up of their respective theses.  Further opportunities exist for connecting with Malagasy colleagues and field opportunities in Madagascar via the Duke Lemur Center SAVA Conservation Initiative, described here.

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