Join the lab!

General Information

We have a lab full of diverse and interactive people who are interested in plant evolution. We are set up for field work (transplants, pollination biology, collecting), greenhouse and growth chamber experiments, molecular pcr- and illumina-based markers and phylogenetic studies, lab measurements of floral morphology, scent and color, and fluorescent and bright-field microscopy. Santa Cruz is an amazing place to live and UCSC is one of the best universities in the country for ecology and evolutionary biology. We have a fantastic arboretum, top notch greenhouse facilities, a common-use Molecular Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics (MEEG) Lab, access to the UC Natural Reserve System, and a Museum of Natural History with extensive local collections. The Kay lab is also a part of the UCSC Genomics Institute.


If you are interested in gaining research experience in plant evolution, please send me an email describing your interests and experience. If I don't respond right away, send it again, or stop by my office hours!

Graduate Students

I am likely to accept a new PhD student for Fall 2019. I am particularly interested in a student who wants to work on speciation, speaks fluent Spanish, and would like to do a significant amount of field work on the Costus system in Costa Rica and/or Panama. I would also be excited about mentoring a student working on pollination biology in Clarkia in California. I expect my PhD students to be fairly independent, as long as their work falls within my sphere of interests. I am generally open to students working on one of the plant groups with which I am currently working or developing their own system, but currently only have funding for work on Costus. Either way, it is important for students to develop an independent body of work that is in line with their interests and that they can build on when they graduate. I will be available for advice and regular meetings, and I am very committed to mentoring students and working closely with them to obtain funding and develop successful research projects. Students should plan on attending regular lab meetings and journal clubs and participating in collaborative lab research projects. Entering graduate students will be assigned a light load of interesting reading over the summer.

If you are interested in applying to EEB under my sponsorship, please email me the following information: (1) a description of your academic and work background, especially any past research experience; (2) what types of research questions you are interested in addressing in graduate school; (3) why you want to do a Ph.D. and your ultimate career goals; (4) why you are interested in EEB at UCSC and working with me in particular; and (5) what fellowships or funding sources you have applied for or are planning to apply for. This information will be helpful to me in determining whether I would be a good advisor for you.

All prospective students who are eligible should plan on applying for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Applications are generally due in October.

I am not currently accepting Master's students as they require full grant funding, and I do not currently have funding for a MS student.


I am not currently hiring any postdocs, but if you are interested in working with me and applying for independent funding, please shoot me an email.