Student Opportunities

Employment Opportunities

I try to hire undergraduates (or recent grads) whenever possible, for part- or full-time work, to support my research program: field work, lab work, greenhouse studies, data entry, etc.   If opportunities exist, I will post them here, with instructions for applying.

No positions are available at this time. Please check in again later!

Fourth-year Research Projects at SFU (BISC 498, Fall and Spring Terms)

I would love to hear from undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University who want to discuss ideas for an undergraduate research project.  As a member of John Reynold‘s (super-awesome) lab,  you will get first-hand experience designing and conducting research about invertebrates, under my supervision. Students will be also be encouraged to join and contribute to our weekly lab meetings: a great opportunity to learn from a bunch of really fun people about a bunch of really cool science.

If you’d like to explore this option, please send an email with a brief statement about your research interests/experience, and a copy of your CV (with two references), to c_ernst1[at], with “BISC 498” and your last name in the subject line. Please make sure to get in touch well before the start of the term during which you hope to do the work.

When I have specific projects in mind, I’ll post them here, and also through the Department of Biological Sciences, here.

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Opportunities may exist for students to get extensive summer field or lab research experience – a 16 week period – via a NSERC USRA.  These are prestigious and competitive federal awards that look great on a CV and will open many doors for you if you hope to pursue graduate studies.  They also offer a monthly stipend (i.e., it’s a pretty darn great summer job).  Sometimes I will have specific projects in mind, in which case I will post them here, and also through the Department of Biological Sciences, here.

If you meet the criteria (check them out, and learn more about the program here), have a strong GPA, are really excited about doing research related to invertebrates, and plan to go on to grad school, I’d like to hear from you.  You would “officially” be supervised by John Reynolds, but I would actually oversee the work.

Applications are usually due at the end of January, so get in touch with me during the fall term: please send an email with a brief statement about your research interests/experience, and a copy of your CV (with two references), to c_ernst1[at], with “USRA” and your last name in the subject line.

Also, keep an eye out here for opportunities in other labs.

Note: No specific positions are available at this time, but get in touch if you have ideas or are interested!


If you are an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University and want to get a taste of what research or working with invertebrates is like, I am happy to discuss opportunities to contribute small amounts* (3-4 hours a week, max) of volunteer time in my lab.

The work might include sample sorting, specimen identification/counting, preparation of samples for chemical analyses, assisting with greenhouse experiments, doing literature searches, or data entry.

If you’d like to chat, send me an email with “Volunteering” and your last name in the subject line, and tell me about your interests and experience (c_ernst1[at]

If you enjoy the work and want to take it to the next level, we can try to find opportunities for you to do a fourth-year research project (see above), or other funded work.

My Supervisory Style and Expectations

My expectation for students in my lab is that they will develop confidence in their own abilities, master their study subject, and become independent learners and scientists.  I will always make sure you are properly trained and comfortable with your tasks, and I am happy to have regular meetings or help on an ad-hoc basis when you have questions or concerns or want to chat about your ideas.  As you settle in with your project and we both feel that you are ready to handle the bulk of the work on your own, I’ll start to take a more hands-off approach – I’m not a “helicopter” supervisor, nor a micro-manager!

While some protocols or procedures might be non-negotiable (in the interest of safety, or to ensure the accuracy and replicability of the data), I appreciate students who can think creatively, develop effective workflows (we all have our own way of doing certain tasks, and mine aren’t always the best way), and feel comfortable approaching me if they see ways of doing things in a better way.

My supervisory style seems to mesh best with students who want to work independently (or for whom that is a goal), who can use common sense and/or creative thinking to solve small problems, and who know when to it’s appropriate to seek advice from others. These students know that part of the joy of doing science is learning how to trouble-shoot when things aren’t going as planned, how to seek different kinds of resources and support to get past unexpected hurdles, how to balance the different tasks and deadlines, and ultimately becoming confident in your own knowledge and skills. If you’re someone who likes to be handed detailed to-do lists, work in a super-organized and predictable environment, and have their supervisor on-hand at all times to direct or double-check your work, I might not be a good fit for you.

Work-Life Balance and Wellness

I am acutely aware that students have other things to do outside of my lab: you have course work, family commitments, jobs, volunteer work, friends, partners, children, pets, and hobbies that all require and deserve your time and attention. I understand that typical Monday-Friday, 9-5 workdays may not be practical for everybody,  and that unexpected conflicts or challenges can arise. I’m more than happy to work around your scheduling needs as much as possible, as long as your work is of high quality and gets done in a timely way. I work hard to have a healthy work-life balance, and will encourage you to do the same.

I know that college/university can be a whole lot of fun, but that it can also be very stressful. Being away from home and far from your usual support network can be lonely; making friends and finding your place in a new community can be hard; juggling all your responsibilities can be overwhelming; mental health concerns can take a real toll on our productivity and more importantly on our well-being. Know that my lab is a safe space for everyone: my door is always open if you’re struggling, and I’ll do my very best to help you access resources and people who can help if you want them.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

My lab is a safe and respectful space where peers work side-by-side and in collaboration with many other people. I strive to have a diverse lab where members feel welcome, valued, heard, and included regardless of race, colour, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, family or marital status, income, or disability status, etc.  Discrimination and harassment are not tolerated and any complaints or evidence of such are taken seriously and dealt with swiftly.


* I value my volunteers and recognize that there are real benefits to volunteering (hands-on experience, opportunities to figure out what your interests/skills are, getting references for jobs, etc.). However, I am also uncomfortable asking students to perform unpaid work, especially extensive amounts of it.  I believe a student’s time is valuable and should be financially compensated whenever possible, and I recognize that having the freedom to do unpaid work is a privilege that is not universally shared by all students. I do my best to offer paid opportunities when I can.  Volunteers will never be asked to choose their time in my lab over, say, their studies, their families, a paid job, or other interests, nor will they ever be penalized or berated in any way for doing so.