Expectations For Graduate Students


  • You may stop by or call my office any time; I will let you know if it is not a good time.
  • Help your fellow graduate students, especially those in your lab.
  • Attend lab field trips.
  • Maintain an awareness of the inherent power differential in a mentor-student relationship.
  • The relationship between advisor and student should be open, mutually beneficial, and respectful.

Professional Development

  • Attend at least one professional meeting each year
  • Present at least one paper at a professional meeting each year
  • Become a member of at least 1 professional society
  • Participate in the Graduate Student Organization


  • The major topic of your thesis must be potentially publishable in a major journal
  • Your research proposal must be finished and approved by the mid-way point of your second semester
  • In addition to the major thrust of your thesis research, engage in at least one additional project that will potentially result in publication
  • Provide me hard copies of your original data sheets and electronic copies of your entered data after each major data collection event.
  • Expect to spend about at least 30 to 40 hours per week working on your thesis research (exclusive of classes and TA/RA assignments).
  • Master’s thesis results must be submitted for publication within 1 year of graduation, if not, I reserve the right to publish results as first author (otherwise, you are first author)

In the Field

  • Obtain and required permits and adhere all permit stipulations (e.g., scientific collecting permits, research permits, access permits, etc)
  • Provide me with a field schedule in writing; let me know any schedule changes well in advance and in writing
  • While in the field, let these priorities guide your actions (in this order):
    • Human Safety
    • Animal Welfare
    • Data Integrity and Quality
    • Equipment Care and Upkeep
  • Absolutely no vehicle driving or firearms handling if you have had alcohol
  • Check in with me at least once per week


  • On an assistantship you are paid for 20 hours of work per week. This work does not include class time or time that you would normally spend working on your thesis.
  • I will assign your duties for research assistantships; your duties may or may not deal directly with your thesis.
  • Schedule a meeting at the beginning of each semester to discuss the specific duties of your research assistantship.
  • Duties for teaching assistantships will be determined by the chair of the department.


  • Consult with your committee prior to enrolling in classes each semester. All course work must be approved.
  • I must approve your enrollment in special problems, including the number of credits.
  • For special problems, schedule a meeting with me at the beginning of the semester to go over exact requirements and evaluation criteria.


  • Be on time and let me know well in advance of schedule changes
  • Be prepared
  • Give me a meeting agenda and any needed documents at least 1 day in advance. Be fairly specific in the itinerary. This will help me think about answers/solutions before we meet.
  • Reserve in-person meetings for discussing sensitive matters, complicated subjects, or many small items. You can always call, email, or drop by my office for trivial matters.
  • Meetings can be scheduled as frequent or as long as necessary. Schedule at least one meeting a month so that I know what is going on.


  • Allow at least 2 weeks for all manuscript reviews and letters (most major written works will require at least three cycles of review and revision)
  • All written work, including drafts, must be double-spaced, free from spelling and grammatical errors, and must be concise and well organized
  • Scientific writing involves a series of reviews and revisions.  Expect that the final product may be different than the original version you wrote.  The review and revision process should be viewed as an opportunity to learn how to become a better writer.


  • Academic honesty and ethics are foremost
  • If you are caught lying (or engage in any other form of academic dishonesty) you will be immediately dropped from the program and your assistantship will be terminated; there will be no second chances.
  • Meet all deadlines
  • Respect faculty and other students

What You Can Expect from Me

  • I will treat you with respect
  • I will listen with an open mind
  • I will give you honest opinions and advice
  • I will work towards your professional success
  • I will make beneficial opportunities available to you
  • You and your success are one of my top priorities
Dr. Joe Morris Iowa State University Natural Resource Ecology and Management Office: 515-294-4622