Future Member

Thinking of joining us?

First and foremost, we are intellectual omnivores; we are not tied to a particular study organism, system or analytical approach. We pursue what we deem to be the most important and interesting questions, utilizing whatever organisms, systems and approaches will yield greatest insight. While we are a diverse group, EcoGastronomy is the central axis around which our work is organized. EcoGastronomy is a research orientation that explicitly recognizes food and drink are emergent products of human agency and ecological/evolutionary processes. This research programme puts particular emphasis on the “eco" in ecogastronomy by focusing on the connections of ecology, biodiversity and ecological processes to food production systems, sustainability and gastronomy. Members of the Ecogastronomy Research Group work on land in the water.

Please feel free to contact me anytime.  Your initial contact should include:
i) Your CV

ii) Your academic transcripts (unofficial is fine)

iii) A brief overview of the kind of research questions you wish to pursue – “I am passionate about conservation" is laudable but not helpful in determining if this lab is likely to be a good venue for your graduate degree.

What I look for in prospective students? I’m always interested in discussing potential research options with motivated, skilled potential graduate students who have a demonstrated capacity to undertake graduate level research and are keen to be part of a close-knit research team. I see passion to pursue a particular line of research as equally important to good grades. In particular I look for evidence of taking on projects, completing them and dissemination of the work. The act of taking on projects is tangible evidence of your engagement and motivation. Completion of the project(s) demonstrates you have the array of organizational and intellectual skills to execute independent research. Dissemination demonstrates a conviction to ensure your work informs discourse (be that within the academic community or beyond) – an objective we take seriously.

Please understand that I do not accept graduate students with whom there has been no record of personal contact. Students who are a “good fit" will have an excellent experience and contribute to a thriving research community. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest, most of all yours, to ensure joining our group makes sense for you. Contact current and past grad students (of any lab you may be considering) and get a sense for how the lab operates, the teaching / mentoring style of the professor and the general social / quality of life dynamics of the academic unit. If you think our lab may be the place for you, contact me to discuss options.

Graduate students are expected to be self-motivated, independent thinkers who take ownership of their research. I do not “parachute” students into an already mature research agenda (hence the request for you to provide an anticipated research overview). Instead it is expected that students will develop – in collaboration with me, lab colleagues, and others – their own research program. I pursue this model for two reasons:

i) No matter how exciting you may think graduate work is, the truth is that it is hard, demanding, often-times humbling work. This is not to say that there are not terrific rewards too, however if it were easy, everyone would be doing it… If you begin your research by being issued the research questions, the design etc., you are a research technician, not a student. Execution of the work is only part of the graduate student experience. Development of the research project is where the real work – and learning – occurs.

ii) By taking ownership from the start, the project is yours. Your ultimate success will be a direct reflection of your ability. This being a far more rewarding and ultimately valuable experience. Students assigned a research project often quickly view their research as a form of drudgery rather than rising to and overcoming the inevitable challenges. For these reasons, it is advisable that all potential graduate students have at least a coarse sketch of the research they wish to pursue. All research programs
are developed and honed by individuals with much input and support from the group as a whole.

What should be evident in the passages above is that my mentoring style is “hands off". I am not a micro-manager and believe that learning to swim is most quickly mastered by jumping in at the deep end. I see my role as a facilitator and supporter of your work and am as involved as you need me to be. Thus, those that thrive most when given latitude and freedom to explore will do well with us. Those that thrive in a structured, predictable environment are likely to find a happier home elsewhere.

PhD vs. MSc?
Applicants with a BSc are required to apply to our MSc / MA program. In some instances a student may change their program from a MSc/MA  to a PhD however this is only undertaken in circumstances of exceptional performance by the student. An MSc or MA is necessary to apply directly to our PhD program.

Application Deadline:
The main intake of MSc / MA and PhD students occurs each September with the application deadline being the previous January 15 (e.g. to begin in Sept 2021 the application deadline is nine months earlier – January 15 2021; see the links below for more information). For numerous reasons the preferred start for graduate students is September each year, however under certain circumstances a January or April start is possible. I will be happy to explain these and any other details to you. 


John Volpe

School of Environmental Studies

University House 4

University of Victoria

Victoria, BC Canada


Contact Information

Call:  +1 250 472 4298

Email: jpv@uvic.ca

Grad Studies FAQ