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Bylaws|Program in Ecology

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Program in Ecology
Berry Center 231
Phone: 307-766-6240
Email: ecology@uwyo.edu
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Bylaws of the Program in Ecology

The Program in Ecology (PiE) is an interdepartmental, intercollegiate doctoral program. Its purpose is to provide advanced, integrated training in the science of ecology, a research discipline that focuses on organisms and biological processes in the context of their environments.

The Program in Ecology functions according to a democratic governance structure. The responsibility for the operation of the Program, except where specifically designated below, is vested in the Program's faculty. The basic operation of the Program can be divided into the following areas: administration, graduate curriculum and program, and personnel. Each of these areas is specified below. Any change to this document must be endorsed by at least a two-thirds majority vote of a quorum of PiE Faculty.


Administration

The PiE Faculty are responsible for administering the Program as set forth in the following structure of committees and policies, except those responsibilities specifically delegated to the Director.

1. Director

The Program Director serves at the discretion of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the PiE Faculty. The Director will be nominated by the PiE Faculty based on a majority vote of a quorum of PiE Faculty. The PiE Faculty will forward their recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for appointment. The Director will serve a three-year, renewable term, and is bound to the principles and policies as set forth in this document. The Director supervises the Program and its committees, assigns Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships, chairs the meetings of the Program Faculty and Affiliates, and represents the Program to the central administration of the University.

The Director and the Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designated representative) will meet at least once per year with the Heads of all participating departments and Deans of all participating colleges, to facilitate direct communication between the Program and the participating academic units.

2. Membership

The Program in Ecology Faculty consists of faculty members and academic professionals at the University of Wyoming who are active researchers in the discipline of ecology (Appendix A). PiE Faculty members can advise doctoral students in the Program, vote at PiE Faculty meetings, and serve on PiE standing and ad hoc committees. PiE Affiliates can co-advise doctoral students together with a PiE Faculty member, attend and participate (without voting) in PiE Faculty meetings, and serve on PiE ad hoc committees (Appendix A). Affiliates may include UW faculty members and academic professionals who work in fields closely related to ecology, and doctoral-level scientists from other institutions and agencies who are collaborating with PiE Faculty members. Applications and associated materials (credentials and representative publications) for PiE Faculty and Affiliate status will be evaluated by the PiE Steering Committee according to policies set in the Faculty Status document (Appendix A).

3. The Committees of the Program

All meetings of the Committees of the Program in Ecology are open to Program Faculty, Affiliates, graduate student representatives, and invited individuals. The sole exception consists of those meetings or parts of meetings in which personnel are being evaluated, where only Program Faculty members may attend. Members are selected for or elected to these committees by the PiE Faculty members, and they in turn will select one of the committee members to act as the chair of the committee. Each member (faculty and student) of the following committees has one vote on matters before the committee, and all decisions and recommendations will be reached on the basis of a simple majority vote as established within the guidelines set out in the committee's operating policies, unless otherwise specified. The Program Director will vote in the committees only in the case of a tied vote. The actions of the Program's committees, when carrying out their charge in accordance with their operating policy, do not require the approval of the Program Committee. All decisions and recommendations must be communicated in written or electronic form to the members of the Program Committee within five work days.

a. Program Committee

The Program Committee serves as the committee of the whole of the PiE Faculty and is chaired by the Program Director. This committee is responsible for governing the Program in Ecology in accordance with the Bylaws established in this document. A quorum must be in attendance in order to vote on any matter, although votes can be cast in absentia as proxies. Proxy votes must be submitted to the Program Director prior to the meeting in which the vote is to be taken. A quorum is defined as two-thirds of the Program Committee. The Program Committee is composed of the PiE Faculty and the graduate student representative. Each member of the PiE Faculty and the graduate student representative has one vote on matters before the Program Committee, except as elsewhere specified. The graduate student representative to the Program Committee will be elected by PiE graduate students, who will forward their nomination to the Director for appointment. The graduate student representative may participate in discussions and vote in any matter except those concerning personnel. Graduate student representatives to other relevant Standing Committees will be elected by PiE graduate students, who will forward their nominations to the Director for appointment. Members of the following Standing Committees will be elected by majority vote of the Program Committee.

b. Steering Committee

The Steering Committee advises the Director in setting and implementing Program policies, and also serves as the screening committee for evaluation of applications for Faculty and Affiliate status in the program. The Steering Committee is bound by the Faculty Status Policy in these evaluations. The Steering Committee meets twice a year, and more often as needed.

The Steering Committee consists of five members, to include the PiE Director and four PiE Faculty members elected by the PiE Program Committee. The Director serves as Chair of the Steering Committee. Faculty serving on the Steering Committee must represent at least three of the participating departments and at least two of the participating colleges. With the exception of the Program Director, Steering Committee members will serve staggered two-year terms.

c. Graduate Affairs Committee

The Graduate Affairs Committee screens graduate-student applicants to the Program, selects students for Graduate Assistantships, Fellowships, and other competitive awards, and tracks the progress of graduate students in the Program. The Committee will have authority to admit students into the Program, and will forward recommendations for Assistantships and Fellowships to the Program Director.

The Graduate Affairs Committee consists of five members, representing at least three of the participating departments and at least two of the participating colleges. Graduate Affairs Committee members will serve staggered two-year terms.

d. Seminar Committee

The Seminar Committee coordinates and schedules the PiE Seminar series. The Committee works closely with its departmental counterparts (committees or individual coordinators) in this regard.

The Seminar Committee consists of three PiE Faculty members and one graduate student representative. The Faculty members will represent at least three departments and at least two colleges. Seminar Committee members will serve staggered two-year terms.

e. Director Review Committee

The Director Review Committee shall evaluate the Director's performance in administering the Program biennially, during odd/even academic years (e.g., 07/08). The Steering Committee, without the Director, shall either assume the responsibilities of the Director Evaluation Committee or appoint members to that Committee. The committee is composed of at least three faculty members representing at least three departments and at least two colleges. This Committee shall solicit input from all PiE Faculty members and graduate students to assist in the evaluation. The Committee will submit their evaluation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Director will meet with the Vice President for Academic Affairs to discuss the evaluation.

4. Program Policies

The administrative policies of the Program are established and modified by a two-thirds majority vote of the Program Faculty members. The Program's policies, listed below, are presented in Appendix A.

a. Faculty Status Policy
b. Graduate Affairs Policy

Adopted by an 11 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty on Monday 11 April 2005. Revised by a 13 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty, 8 October 2007. Revised by a 24 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty, 23 April 2008. Revised by a 20 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty, 11 December 2009.

APPENDIX A. Program Policies

Faculty Status Policy

Preamble

The Program in Ecology is centered on the science of ecology, a research discipline that focuses on organisms and biological processes in the context of their environments. Ecology overlaps with many other disciplines in the biological, physical, and social sciences, and many scientists whose research lies primarily in other areas may nevertheless do ecological research and sponsor students pursuing research in ecology.

The Program aspires to maintain a culture of participation and intellectual engagement by its faculty. All PiE Faculty members are expected to participate in its activities and contribute to its objectives. Meaningful participation in the Program includes contributing to graduate education (teaching and co-teaching courses, serving on graduate committees, and mentoring individual students), assisting with curricular development and Program governance, and actively contributing to the Program's intellectual community. The latter contributions include but are not restricted to such activities as attending Program-sponsored seminars and other events, hosting seminar speakers, serving as guest lecturers or panelists in Program courses, serving on Program standing and ad hoc committees, and assisting in fundraising efforts.

Faculty participants in the Program in Ecology may take either of two forms: as a Program Faculty member, or as a Program Affiliate. Program Faculty members include tenured or tenure-track University of Wyoming faculty members and academic professionals who are active and credentialed researchers whose research focus is centered in the field of ecology. Program Affiliates comprise a broader category of participants, including individuals who are not tenured or tenure-track UW faculty, or whose primary research area relates to, but is primarily outside of, ecology. The Program Affiliate category provides a means for broad participation in the Program by UW faculty and academic professionals and by ecologists outside UW.

Program Faculty members may serve as Chairs of doctoral committees for students enrolled in the Program in Ecology. Program Faculty members may also participate in all aspects of Program governance, including voting in the Program Committee and Standing Committees, and serving as Director. Program Affiliates may serve as Co-Chairs of doctoral committees for students in the Program in Ecology, provided a Program Faculty member agrees to serve as Chair. Program Affiliates are invited to participate in Program meetings and activities, but are not allotted a vote in Program governance. Program Affiliates may serve on ad hoc committees as appropriate.

Program Faculty: Criteria for admission

Minimum criteria for admission to the Program Faculty include status as a tenured or tenure-track Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor, or status as an extended-term-track or extended-term Academic Professional at the University of Wyoming. In addition, individuals seeking admission to the Program Faculty must provide evidence of ongoing, scholarly work in the field of ecology, as defined in the Preamble to this document and in our mission statement. It is expected that the preponderance of research done by Program Faculty members be ecological or have direct relevance for ecological science.

Individuals seeking Program Faculty status must be able to document nationally or internationally recognized research that has advanced understanding of fundamental and/or applied aspects of ecology. There should be evidence of quantitatively substantial and qualitatively rigorous contributions to the field of ecology in the context of the following criteria:

Primary standard (this benchmark must be clearly documented)

Publications:

Members of the Program Faculty are expected to have regularly published ecological research in highly respected, peer-reviewed research journals, as evidenced by a listing of publications (authors, titles, dates, and journals) and representative reprints.

Secondary standards (at least one of these four benchmarks must be clearly met for Assistant Professors and Academic Professionals, at least two for Associate Professors, and at least three for Professors)

Grants & Contracts:

Securing of financial resources for ecological research from nationally competitive funding sources, as evidenced by a listing of grants and contracts (investigators, titles, dates, and funding agencies).

Courses:

Teaching of courses in the discipline of ecology, as evidenced by course offerings (course titles, syllabi, and dates). Such teaching must include courses that integrate ecological scholarship at an advanced level (e.g., advanced or graduate courses and/or seminars).

Graduate Students:

Mentoring of graduate students who have conducted research directly relevant to the science of ecology, as evidenced by ongoing or completed theses and dissertations (authors, titles, and dates).

Professional Service:

Providing of leadership in the field of ecology, as evidenced by editorial positions, elected offices in ecological societies, and/or service on review panels or advisory committees (listing of positions, responsibilities, and affiliations).

Program Affiliates: Criteria for admission

Program Affiliates comprise a broader and more heterogeneous group than Program Faculty. All Program Affiliates will possess a PhD or equivalent. All Program Affiliates must demonstrate potential for contributing to graduate training in ecology, and capacity for research in ecology or closely related fields. In addition to these criteria, Program Affiliates must satisfy the criteria outlined in one or more of the following tracks:

Track 1

Program Affiliates who are not members of the University of Wyoming faculty (e.g., scientists from other entities such as other universities, government agencies, or private organizations) must (a) be sponsored by a Program Faculty member, and (b) document research contributions in the field of ecology. Criteria for judging the latter will be similar to those applied to Program Faculty.

Track 2

Tenured or tenure-track faculty members and academic professionals at the University of Wyoming may participate as Program Affiliates based on documentation of their research contributions to fields closely allied to ecology. Such fields may include (but are not restricted to) systematics, genetics, evolutionary biology, physiology, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences, statistics, mathematical modeling, economics, and geographic information sciences.

Track 3

Typically, Track 3 Affiliates will be productive researchers in disciplines that overlap with ecology and who are interested in co-sponsoring students in the Program or otherwise contributing to Program activities.

Review of Applications

Individuals seeking to join the Program, either as Faculty members or as Affiliates, should submit a letter of interest addressing the preceding points, together with a full C.V. and copies of representative recent ecological publications, to the Program Director. The letter of interest should specify whether the individuals seek to join the Program as Faculty members or Affiliates. Applications received during the academic year will be reviewed by the Steering Committee within one month. Applications received during the summer may not be reviewed until the first month of the following Fall semester. The Program Steering Committee will make all decisions regarding Faculty and Affiliate acceptance into the Program.

Review of Faculty Status

Once admitted as a Program Faculty member or Affiliate, an individual retains this standing for 5 years. At the end of each 5-year term, the individual must provide evidence to the Program Steering Committee of continued productivity through a re-application consisting of supporting documentation with regard to the stated standards. It is generally expected that activities in the preceding five years will include advising and mentoring graduate students in the Program and serving on PiE student committees.

Revised by a 13 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty, 8 October 2007. Revised by a 20 (for) to 0 (against) vote of the Program in Ecology Faculty, 11 December 2009.

Graduate Affairs Policy

Preamble.

The Program in Ecology is an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Ecology. Students and faculty from multiple departments and colleges at the University of Wyoming participate in the Program.

Graduate students admitted to the Program will have a home department, which will typically be the home department of the respective committee chair or co-chair. Funding in the form of graduate assistantships and tuition waivers will often come from state-funded Graduate Assistantships and individual faculty grants administered through the home departments. Home departments may impose obligations on students, including attendance at departmental seminars and other functions, but home departments may not impose any curricular obligations on students beyond the Program in Ecology curriculum. Students pursuing degrees within the Program in Ecology are expected to attend PiE speaker's series and other PiE functions as they arise.

The Program in Ecology is expected to produce PhDs with broad perspectives in the field of ecology. The Program aspires to educate scientists who are:

  • capable of integrating concepts and perspectives from across the discipline 
  • familiar with the historical and philosophical roots of the discipline
  • able to relate concrete ecological phenomena with abstract concepts and theory 
  • capable of solving problems and analyzing data quantitatively and qualitatively
  • able to conceive, design, and execute ecological research in their area of specialization
  • able to anticipate emerging issues and questions in ecology, particularly integrating with other fields (including the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities)
  • able to communicate clearly in oral and written form to technical and general audiences
  • imbued with a strong sense of professional ethics
  • committed to advancing ecological knowledge and its application

Admission.

Only students seeking a doctoral degree will be admitted into the Program. Minimum criteria for admission to the Program in Ecology are:

  1. minimum score of 900 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, 
  2. minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0,
  3. agreement by a member of the PiE Faculty to sponsor the student, or to co-sponsor the student together with a PiE Affiliate, and
  4. admission to a home department at the University of Wyoming.

All applications to the Program will be reviewed by the Graduate Affairs Committee, which has authority on admissions. Students applying to the Program who lack a Master's degree must show exceptional promise and commitment (e.g., through undergraduate or post-graduate research experiences, peer-reviewed publications, and/or success in competing for research fellowships). Such students are encouraged to consult with their prospective advisor on whether to apply directly to PiE or to Master's programs in individual home departments of PiE faculty.

Students already admitted to doctoral programs in individual departments at the University of Wyoming may apply to transfer to the Program. Transfer is not pro forma. Transfer applications are subject to the same criteria as for entering students, and admission to the Program for transfer students must be approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee.

Transfer from other Programs.

Students who wish to transfer into the Program from department-based doctoral programs must submit a formal application to transfer into the Program, and must satisfy all of the admission requirements specified for entering students. Such application will consist of copies of all of the application materials originally submitted to the program in which the student is currently enrolled, as well as a letter of recommendation from their prospective PiE advisor. In addition, they must submit a letter stating their reasons for wanting to transfer to the Program. All applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Affairs Committee. In addition, the following provisos apply for transfer students: 

  • Students enrolled in departmental programs who have not yet taken their preliminary examinations may pursue the PhD in Ecology provided they (a) appoint an Advisory Committee under Program rules before they take their preliminary examinations, and (b) fulfill the curricular requirements.
  • Students who have been admitted to departmental programs before Fall 2005, and who have already taken their preliminary examinations, may pursue the PhD in Ecology provided they (a) appoint an Advisory Committee under Program rules within one month of admission to the Program, and (b) fulfill the curricular requirements. The student's Advisory Committee has the option of requiring a new preliminary examination.
  • Students who have been admitted to departmental programs during or after Fall 2005, and who have already taken their preliminary examinations, may pursue the PhD in Ecology provided they (a) appoint an Advisory Committee under Program rules within one month of admission to the Program, (b) take a new preliminary examination within one semester of admission into the Program, and (c) fulfill the curricular requirements.
  • In all cases, waivers and/or substitutions of required courses are at the discretion of the Graduate Affairs Committee.

Degree Requirements.

Advisory Committee. Before the end of the second semester of study, the student should nominate a five-member Advisory Committee to the Graduate School. At least three members of the committee, including the committee chair (usually the student's advisor), will be members of the PiE Faculty. One other member, who will serve as Graduate School representative, must be from outside the home department of the major advisor, although (s)he can be a faculty member in a department that participates in the Program. The committee will advise the student on his/her program of graduate study, execute and evaluate the student's preliminary examination, evaluate the student's dissertation proposal and dissertation, and conduct the student's dissertation defense.

Program of Study. All students are required to take ECOL 5100 or equivalent. This course should be taken during the first year of residency. All students are required to take ECOL 5550 no sooner than the fourth and no later than the eighth semester of study. All students should take ECOL 5350 or its equivalent at least once a year, excepting years when they are enrolled in 5100 or 5550. Exceptions or substitutions of these requirements are subject to approval by the Graduate Affairs Committee.

The program of study must include at least six credit hours aimed at developing a tool skill, which except for rare cases shall be in the quantitative/analytical domain (e.g., statistics, modeling, GIS, remote sensing, bioinformatics). Courses relating to research tools should be taken early in the student's residency to ensure that they can be used in thesis research and advanced studies. Specific coursework and tool-skill development for the student's program of study will be developed in consultation with and subject to approval by the student's Advisory Committee.

Admission to Candidacy. Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. requires two steps: 1) providing evidence that the student is prepared to identify a research question, design an approach for investigating that question, and a plan for executing the approach, all in the format of an NSF-style research proposal, and 2) illustrating adequate proficiency in the subject matter of ecology through a process involving both written and oral exams.

Proposal. Students must submit a NSF-style proposal to their committee outlining their project, typically by the end of the fourth semester. Each committee member will provide feedback to the student on the proposed research and indicate approval of the proposal or request revision. The proposal must be approved by all committee members prior to starting the preliminary exams.

While this proposal should be a plan for actual dissertation research, unforeseen circumstances may require altering the student's dissertation work after the proposal has been approved by the committee. In the case of a major alteration, the student should reformulate a research plan and submit it to the committee in writing for committee approval.

Preliminary Exam.

Written portion of the preliminary exam. The student will take the written exam portion of the preliminary exam no fewer than 2 weeks following approval of the research proposal . The goal of this exam is to test breadth of knowledge in ecology as described in the Preamble to this document. The design of this exam will be coordinated by the graduate committee under the leadership of the advisor. Each written exam will cover the following topics:

  1. Ecological topics ranging from organismal / evolutionary to ecosystem-level perspectives, integrating concepts and perspectives from across the discipline, over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.
  2. The philosophical and historical development of ecology.
  3. The conceptual background of the student's area of specialization.

The exam will consist of 4-6 questions developed collectively by the committee and organized by the student's major professor. The exam will be open book; however the answers will be solely the work of the student. Answers should be fully cited and collectively should be no longer than 30 pages double spaced exclusive of references cited. Students will have one full week (7 days) to complete the exam.

Committee members will indicate pass/fail within one week following completion of written exams. Four of five passing votes are required.

Oral Portion of the Preliminary Exam. No sooner than 2 weeks after successfully passing the written exam, the student may proceed to an oral exam administered by his/her graduate committee. Oral exams center around three goals from which questions will be derived:

  1. To verify that the student is prepared, conceptually and methodologically, to carry out successful dissertation research.
  2. To evaluate the student's ability to conceptualize specific questions in a broad, integrative context.
  3. To evaluate the student's ability to think spontaneously and creatively and to articulate responses about unexpected or novel questions.

The advisory committee will discuss and organize specific questions based on these goals in a short session at the beginning of the exam period before admitting the student to the examination room and starting the exam. Following the exam each committee member will provide non-binding paper votes of pass/fail for each of the three goals of the oral exam. Following discussion of the student's performance, committee members will each assign a grade of pass/fail for the overall exam. Four of five committee members must vote for passing the overall oral exam.

Students whose performance is unsatisfactory will be given one opportunity for retaking the oral examination. This retake will occur no later than the academic-year semester following the first examination.

Public Seminars. Students are required to give two oral presentations on their research. The purposes of these presentations are to provide the student with practice in oral presentations and to keep the PiE community informed of the student's progress. The first will describe the student's dissertation research proposal. This presentation will be given before the student submits his/her thesis proposal. The second presentation will summarize the student's completed dissertation research, and will normally be given the same semester as the student's dissertation defense. Under extraordinary circumstances (subject to approval by the Graduate Affairs Committee), this presentation may be given at an earlier time. These presentations must be open to the public, and may comprise part of a departmental or Program in Ecology seminar or brown-bag series.

Approved 3 X 05; Revised 15 XII 05. Revised by a 24 (positive) to 0 (negative) vote, 25 X 07.

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