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Prospective Students

What I expect from my students

What You can expect from me


Field Equipment

Tim Carter
Ball State University
Dept of Biology

Dept of Biology



  1. Assistantships – funding - Before you agree to join my lab, we should be very clear on what you are or are not being offered.  Here are some of the assistantships options available at Ball State University.

A.   Teaching Assistantship (TA or GA).  Teaching assistantships are very common.  With this method the student is paid by the Department to assist with or teach the lab portion(s) of some class(es).  In some cases you would teach 2-4 lab sections a week of a lower level biology course or you may be responsible for helping to set-up and run the lab of an upper level course with the instructor.  In return you would get a stipend (salary) and get tuition waved (you will still have to pay student fees).  The catch to this method is that there are a limited number of openings each semester and often there are very few or no positions for Summer semesters, leaving most TAs without work (or pay) during the summer.  There are annual deadlines for applying for these positions.

B.   Research Assistantship (RA).  These are very similar to TA but instead of teaching the student does research.  The money that is used to pay your salary and for classes must come from a grant that you or I have obtained.  The research work that you would be doing may or may not be associated with your own research that you must conduct as part of your degree.

In general, it is my desire for each of my MS students to be on a teaching assistantship (TA/GA) for fall and spring semesters and on a research assistantship (RA) during the summer.  However, this is not always possible, especially the RA because it is dependant on funding.  Additionally, Ball State University limits TA support of Masters Students to two years (4 semesters) – though that may change.  Tenure past that time would require funding from a RA – which is not always possible.

  1. Supplies and Research Materials - Over the years I have acquired a wide variety of research equipment that is available for you to use. Additionally, I have a good working relationship with my colleagues here at Ball State University and at other Universities and there is always the possibility of borrowing equipment.  I have always identified with the famous motto “have done so much with so little for so long that we can now do anything with nothing!”  As part of your education we will work together to figure out ways of getting things done within the budget we have to work with. Since budgets are often limited you probably will be required to use your personal vehicle for your research.  This may be as little as to and from the field, but depending on the project may include transporting traps or other equipment.  I will never ask you to do anything that would damage your vehicle, but you will be expected to use your vehicle as needed.  When available I will reimburse you for your mileage.  

  1. Moral support – As a member of my lab you can expect my complete support.  Once a member of my lab your job is not to worry about impressing me but to learn and grow academically.  As long as you try your best and continue to progress, you can always count on my encouragement. I am most impressed by those that take initiative and get things done with little or no reminding from me.
  1. Your research project - Part of my goal is to work closely with you to develop an interesting and exciting project that you can take ownership in.  While we often are constrained by the requirements of a grant that is funding a project, we can always find unique and interesting aspects for you to research for your thesis.  Science does not have to be monotonous and boring, on the contrary the best science is usually exciting and motivating.
  1. Gaining experience and confidence - I encourage and expect my graduate students to partake in any and all activities that I do.  Some of the best learning comes from witnessing and doing.  When I give talks, be it educational talks at a grade school or an oral paper presentation at a professional meeting, I expect my students to come along and learn from the process.  And when you are ready for you to give it a try.  I struggle to walk the fine line between letting you learn the “hard way” and showing you the right way the first time.  There will be ample opportunities for you gain valuable experiences involving everything from field methodologies to classroom lecturing.  It is up to each student to take advantage of these opportunities, I will not force them on you.
  1. Assistance in getting jobs or further educational opportunities - As your advisor I feel that your future success in part reflects back on me and my lab.  As such, you can expect me provide all my connections and contacts to help you in your future endeavors.  You can also expect me to provide a supportive but honest reference for all future mentors and or employers.  Our relationship should not stop after you graduate, but rather should simple enter into a different phase. However make no mistake, your future is in your hands. You will be judged on your credentials and aptitude. I good reference for me can carry only so much weight.  It is still your responsibility to get everything you can out of your time in graduate school. Simply showing up is not enough.