About OEB

OEB provides interdepartmental training for MS and PhD students in ecology, animal behavior, organismal biology and evolutionary biology. Graduate students, post-docs, and faculty study biological processes ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level, often bridging the gap between basic and applied research. Our faculty and students conduct research in four broad areas:

Animal Behavior: Behavioral ecology, communication, learning
Ecology: Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology
Evolutionary Biology: Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution
Organismal Biology: Physiology, morphology, paleontology

News & Announcements

IDGP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The Interdepartmental Graduate Programs in Life Sciences (IDGPs) believe that a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment is critical to all that we do.  We recognize that systemic racism exists in our society and we pledge to educate ourselves so that we can change our ingrained habits and beliefs. We are committed to make our programs accessible to all and to increase the success of all our members. We dedicate our time, effort and financial resources to these activities. We work with Institutional leaders, faculty, staff and students to achieve these goals. We are providing this link so that you are able to view a working document of our activities. 

We are proud of our amazing students and post docs who have worked tirelessly for the betterment of our community. Our students have fostered a tight-knit, progressive community and their recent efforts have resulted in this petition for systematic change.  We stand with them in recognizing that change is required in order to make progress toward a more equitable, just, diverse and inclusive environment. 

The University has established an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and their website provides links to many resources. We encourage to make use of these tools, including links to videos, books and podcasts as well as programing, as we embark together on our journey to improve our community for all our members.  

Statement from OEB Program Leader, Paige Warren

I echo the sadness and concern expressed by our Chancellor and others about the recent acts of violence and intimidation against Black people and other marginalized groups. I know that we in the OEB community reject racism and violence, and we send our condolences and support to the families and friends of those who have been killed. I also recognize that some of our community members are currently feeling devastated by recent events, and may be finding it hard to focus on their work. I encourage advisors and peers to be kind, patient, and generous; ask if your students and colleagues need help. While diversity in OEB has increased over the time I have been at UMass, our community still has no Black graduate students and very few Black faculty members. Among the important actions that we can take going forward is to consider why that is and how we can change it. I will be talking with our newly formed Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee about other actions that we can take to continue fostering the inclusive community we aim to be. I welcome and encourage others to contribute to this effort. The Ecological Society of America has shared a message that provides some helpful suggestions for becoming a positive force for change in our communities, our disciplines, and in the wider world: 


One article I'd like to highlight provides a call for graduate advisors to openly discuss the impacts of racism with our lab groups:

Every member of our community is responsible for creating a safe, inclusive work environment. I encourage everyone to consider steps that they can take to help achieve this, both within OEB and at UMass Amherst. Individual actions matter, even small ones.


John Swenson wins Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society

John Swenson received the prestigious Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society in the amount of $10,000. The committee praised his proposal as addressing "a subject of key importance in marine conservation." Way to go, John!

Lian  Guo, Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan win OEB Research Awards

Lian Guo received the Irwin Martin research award for her proposal on "Testing Thermal Sensitivity to Understand Differential Climate Effects in River Herring." The Irwin Martin Award is provided by a generous OEB donor to support graduate student research. 

Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan each received an OEB research grant award for their proposed research on secondary defense chemicals in non-native mustard (Elsa) and effects of species interactions on carnivore community structure (Kadambari).

Dr. Paige Warren Wins Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award

Paige Warren

OEB Graduate Program Director Paige Warren has been selected by the Graduate School as one of this year's three Distinguished Graduate Mentors. Each year, the Graduate School recognizes three outstanding members of the faculty based on nominations by their peers on the graduate faculty and supporting letters by students and colleagues. These nominations showcase the many ways in which faculty mentors provide extraordinary guidance in research, excellent teaching in both formal and informal settings, and strong support for students' professional development as they prepare for their chosen careers. This year's awards also recognize winners for making significant and consistent contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion in graduate education at UMass, and for supporting not only their own advisees but other graduate students as well.

Congratulations, Paige!