Prospective Students

Bill Walton talking. Photo by Katie Jackson.


If you are considering applying to work with me, I appreciate your interest in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences and my own research in marine invertebrate restoration, fisheries & aquaculture.

In my role as an advisor, I seek to first determine what you hope to accomplish both in terms of your research but also in regards to what you hope to accomplish after you obtain your degree. Based on this information (and the ongoing conversation we would have about this because goals can change), I will attempt to provide you with goal-appropriate challenges that will demand your best work, as well as opportunities to excel professionally. Each student in my lab will be conducting research at a level appropriate to peer-reviewed publication.

In regards to student research, I emphasize independent thought and actively encourage each student to formulate the questions that will drive his or her research. I will offer suggestions and advice, but my preference is to have you develop an aptitude for selecting your own questions as I believe this is one of the most significant skills that can be acquired during the pursuit of a graduate degree. I will actively help you hone your questions to testable hypotheses and developing rigorous experimental designs.

I strongly encourage and support student attendance and presentations at professional scientific meetings. I also urge my students to focus on producing peer-reviewed publications. I believe it is my role to provide you with opportunities to excel, helping you take advantage of your strengths while addressing any gaps.

In return, I expect my students first and foremost to bring their own motivation and enthusiasm to both their own work but also that of the lab. I expect you to take pride in your work and strive to do more than is required. There will be many long days and lots of hard work. Lastly, I expect that you share my desire to carry out high-quality applied research that is relevant to members of the community.

Practical Considerations

Typically, I accept 1 to 2 students each year (if I have sufficient funding), but this depends on a number of factors, including financial support, commitments to other students, applicant interests and ability and my current research & extension activities. I seek to bring in support for graduate assistantships through external funding. As you might imagine, that means there is very little predictability in the availability of graduate assistantships. I encourage you to compete for fellowships, as winning a fellowship overcomes the financial hurdle and suggests that you’re a strong candidate.

I should also note a logistic challenge of working with me. I am stationed along the beautiful Gulf coast, with an office and lab space at the Auburn University Shellfish Lab on Dauphin Island. This is approximately a 4 hour drive from the main campus. Other students have found that they can satisfy many of the course requirements by taking courses through the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, but all have found that they need to spend one semester up on campus where they can take a number of the core courses offered within the Fisheries & Allied Aquacultures Department. Some have opted to take these courses on campus during their first fall semester, while others have opted to start on Dauphin Island and head to Auburn for the first spring semester. Either way, it presents challenges in terms of housing. Housing at the Sea Lab is limited and my students have done best by looking for housing in the community.

Application Process

Start here, checking the Admissions section. Note the tutorials provided for domestic and international students. For further information, contact me.

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