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 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 crystal_ernst[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 crystal_ernst[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 (crystal_ernst[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.

A note about my supervisory style

If you are the type of person who needs a lot of one-on-one time and wants your supervisor physically present while you’re working most of the time, I may not be a good fit for you.

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 ideas. However, I am not always on campus, and prefer to take a more hands-off approach once I feel confident that you are ready to handle the bulk of the work on your own.  Part of the challenge (and joy!) of doing science is learning how to figure out stuff by yourself and becoming confident in your own knowledge and skills.  So, I will often encourage you to try to work things out independently, rather than simply tell you what the “right” answer is.

While some protocols or procedures will be non-negotiable (to ensure the accuracy and replicability of the data),  I appreciate students who can think for themselves, develop efficient workflows that work well for them (we all have our own way of doing certain tasks), and feel comfortable approaching me if they see ways of doing things better or more efficiently (or come up with novel research questions!).  So, I am usually looking for students who are happy working independently, who can use common sense to solve small problems/challenges, and who know when to it’s appropriate to seek advice for bigger issues.

If that all sounds fair, then I’m looking forward to working with you!

A note about diversity in my lab

I strive to have a diverse lab.  I welcome students regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or disability status. As long as you are a creative thinker who is respectful to others, you are welcome here.

(Text borrowed verbatim – because it says it perfectly – from the website of my most excellent former PhD advisor, Dr. Chris Buddle, McGill University).


* 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.