Join Us

Research Opportunities in the Evolutionary Immunology and Genomics lab

Interested in joining us? Please read below and send me an email. I can take graduate students through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of Anthropology, the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior and can advise Vet MD/PhD students during their dissertation years. I am also willing to discuss co-advisement with other departments. I admit PhD students, but not every year – ┬áso if you are interested in joining the lab as a doctoral student it is important that you contact me months before our department’s December 1 deadline. I am always willing to work with motivated trainees, no matter your stage of the game. Please note that I will not be taking graduate students in 2023-2024. Undergraduate space will be very limited until at least January 2023. Plan accordingly.

Broadly, I study how our evolutionary past affects genomic responses. The lab is very much focused on comparative primate immunity (innate), evolutionary immunology and infectious disease. Trainees are also welcome to pitch projects that connect these interests with other topics. For example, we often use agricultural models and OneHealth projects that cut across human and veterinary medicine are welcome. We try to make lab science more sustainable, and projects that help reduce waste are needed. We have multiple projects focused on severe infection and health disparities that need new techniques and community partner engagement. Students will be involved in data gathering via community-based, immunological and genomic techniques, as well as bioinformatic analysis, but will also be engaged in developing new protocols. That means that students should be interested in human/non-human primate evolution, community-based research, immunology, genomics/bioinformatics, severe infectious disease, or sustainable labs, have a strong background in statistics and be either competent in basic programming (i.e. R, linux) or committed to learning such programming very quickly. UIUC is a renowned supercomputing and genomics research institution. Trainees who learn and use these techniques are very well supported by institutional resources.

I am a first generation student and I had several careers before completing my PhD. It’s my professional experience that the skills necessary for any non-academic job are a serious edge in academic lab research, and that training in how to complete research is very useful for jobs outside of the academy. All students who work with me receive training in landing jobs in STEM in university and non-university environments.  If you are switching careers to or from a research environment and feel a PhD in biological anthropology (or EEB, etc.) will help you get there, please get in touch. 

For a lab like ours to function, all members must collaborate and contribute to funded projects to make space for new projects. This means that, above all else, I am looking for lab members with heart. A passion for the work is a must. Everything else can learned.

Thanks for your interest,
Jessica Brinkworth