Prospective Lab Members

Statement on our undergraduate recruitment strategy:

As we recruit a significant number of graduate students from undergraduate student researchers in our lab, we strive to make this recruitment equitable. To that end, we try to widely advertise undergraduate research opportunities through the departmental web page and through recruitment drives in large introductory biology classes that tend to have the widest breadth of students before they specialize in their studies. In an effort to not exclude those with less familiarity with academia and scientific research, we also strive to fully describe the nature of research positions and how to apply for them (see below).

Undergraduate research opportunities:

Every undergraduate student is welcome to apply for research opportunities that are abundantly available in our bustling lab.

If you are interested in research opportunities in our lab, the best place to start is to review this list of our graduate students and explore what they research. This listing of people in the department actively recruiting for research opportunities may also be helpful. When you have found projects that you are interested in, please send the graduate student(s) an email! In your email, please include a bit about yourself, your major, year in degree, and even your weekly availability. If you do not receive a reply email within a few days, please do not hesitate to send a follow-up email as a helpful reminder. Graduate students get lots of emails everyday and yours may have simply been overlooked. If you make a substantial contribution to research, you may earn yourself a co-authorship on a published paper! This is a large feather in your cap and a great way to kick-start a career in research and beyond.


Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and opens the door to additional opportunities (listed below). In fact, many of our current graduate students started in our lab as undergraduate volunteers! Volunteering can range in weekly time commitment anywhere from 1 hour and up, so if you don’t have large windows of time, we still encourage you to reach out! Furthermore, if part-time jobs or other financial responsibilities are preventing you from exploring volunteering, please contact us and we will see if there is anything we can do, such as a work study position.

If you’re already volunteering, make sure to ask your graduate student mentor about any/ all of the following opportunities!

Directed Studies Courses (BISC 298/497W/498/499):

In a directed studies course, you essentially get credit for doing research! Expect to spend the same amount of time doing your research as you would for a 3-credit course (~10 hours/week). You will be in charge of collecting your own data, reviewing the literature, and writing your own (mini) manuscript! Don’t worry, you will be guided all along the way, and you will acquire new skills in the process.

Independent Study Semester (ISS) (BISC 490/491/492):

An ISS is similar to the courses listed above but it is more intensive. An ISS is worth 15 credits and involves studying full time with a faculty supervisor for one semester. To complete the requirements for an ISS, you will write a research proposal, carry out research, present your findings in a thesis, and defend it to your advisory committee – similar to a mini-MSc project. More information and how to apply here.

Summer USRA:

Ask us about applying for an undergraduate student research award (USRA). As an award winner, you will do research in our lab for a 4-month term (typically in the summer). Guided by a graduate student mentor, you will experience the many thrills of research: collecting data, trouble-shooting experiments, and presenting findings in our weekly lab meetings. The deadline to apply for these awards is in January each year.

What to expect when you are in the Lab as an Undergraduate Researcher:

All students in our lab are very friendly and helpful! So, no need to be shy! Introduce yourself to other graduate students (pro tip: they love being asked about their research). Join our group lunches or Friday beers. Introduce yourself to Regine, our lab manager and chemistry wizard, as she is the most helpful and knowledgeable of us all.

Things to ask us about when you are here:

  • Friday lab meetings
  • Presenting your work at a local conference
  • Letter of recommendations
  • Career advice

Graduate Students:

If you love the thrill of discovery (or would like to experience it for the first time), have a genuine interest in insect, spider or animal communication or foraging, and would like to join the Gries Lab as a graduate student, please email Professor Gries at as your first step in applying for graduate school at SFU. Please include your CV, and a brief statement of your research interests and their connection to our current research program. Please feel free to send a follow up email in a few days, if you do not hear back. Our lab offers research opportunities for Master of Science (MSc), Master of Pest Management (MPM), and Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) programs. You can find additional information about degree programs and financial support at these linked pages.

Postdoctoral Opportunities:

The Gries lab provides ample opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to gain a variety of new skills in all aspects of communication ecology including, but not limited to, chemical characterizations, synthetic chemistry, electrophysiology, behavioral and field research. Please contact Professor Gries at about potential opportunities.