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Dr. Mattison may be able to support motivated undergraduate and graduate students with independent projects that are able to be conducted under close supervision. Interested students should carefully read the lab expectations below and contact Dr. Mattison well in advance of the March deadline to investigate possibilities.


Expectations for graduate students in the HFED Lab. Please see our current fieldwork code of conduct here and offer suggestions. 

As a graduate student in the Human Family and Evolutionary Demography Lab (HFED), we expect you to:


  1. This is a living document. Its most recent edits were 3/7/2024. If you have suggestions for changes, please email me

  2. Value diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. The lab is your home for several years. It emphasizes understanding variation in the human condition. This emphasis is theoretical and lived. Listen and contribute with respect and understanding. When someone makes a mistake, politely let them know, so we all can learn from the mistake. We welcome all humans, regardless of dis/ability, gender, social race, sexual orientation, religion, position on the neurological spectrum, family status, etc. If you don't feel like you belong, help us to understand how to change that. We also support students who wish to engage in careers outside of academia.

  3. Develop skills and character traits that will facilitate your transition to independence. This requires personal motivation, curiosity, dedication, and enthusiasm. Independent scholars have clearly established research trajectories (i.e., not only projects) that will also clearly support the training of more junior colleagues, if you are hoping to become an academic. The ultimate arbiters of your success as a scientist, researcher, or scholar is not your PhD committee, but our scholarly community. Work to understand what the field of evolutionary anthropology expects and values in scientific research and use this as your guide; avoid substituting what you believe your advisor/mentor “wants” or “requires” of you for this personal understanding.

  4. Approach your education with an attitude of growth. Graduate school is one of the best opportunities you will have to learn new skills and to master new theory. Realize that in spite of what is likely your strong background in evolutionary biology and anthropology, you are only beginning to develop expertise in the specific content that will inform your dissertation. HFED is an environment of learning and, to a lesser extent, teaching. Let's plan to learn from each other as much as we can.

  5. Be a good citizen of the lab and your academic community. This means being professional, respectful, and courteous. Your actions affect your lab mates just as theirs affect yours. HFED aims to establish a culture of sharing and of thoughtful, constructive criticism and collaboration. Comport yourself with candor and maturity. Be receptive to criticism of your work and ideas, and do not take constructive challenges personally. Strive to build upon your many strengths and address weaknesses that you, your peers, and your mentors identify during your tenure here.

  6. Display respect and courtesy for your colleagues, for example, by arriving punctually and prepared for meetings. Your mentors may ask you to prepare for your meetings, by providing agendas, documented updates, and other items as necessary. Your mentors may ask for written summaries of your meetings and any action items that should occur before your next meeting. Expect to meet with your mentors as frequently as weekly or as infrequently as monthly. Not all graduate students will meet with their mentors with the same frequency. If you believe you need more or fewer meetings, communicate this clearly and politely, and with as much notice as possible. If you ask for a meeting, please specify in as much detail as you can what topics you would like to discuss so that your mentors can prepare.

  7. Whenever possible, maintain a reasonable GPA and stay on top of your coursework. Occasional justified tardiness or absence is acceptable, but repeated instances are not. When life happens, let us know, so we can help to support you. 

  8. Graduate students are expected to work 20 hours a week, on average, in addition to coursework and research. Your personal success depends on fulfilling your obligations to the University, on your progress in the Lab, and in your own work. The rewards are often not instantaneous, but will accrue in proportion to your efforts. 

  9. Commit to work-life balance. Start from the moment you arrive in graduate school. It doesn't get easier. Find hobbies, communities, etc. and pursue them with as much joy and excitement as you do your time in graduate school. 

  10. Actively seek internal and external funding to support your work. Anticipate an initial trip to your chosen field site during the summer following your second academic year, so consider possible sources of funding well in advance. In fact, we advise that you search for all viable funding sources early in the fall semester (or the prior summer) and note due dates for potential applications in your calendar (with reminders). Your mentors might occasionally provide additional funds to supplement those you obtain on your own. Such supplemental funds are frequently not available, so please plan and begin writing your proposals early in the fall of each year to maximize your chances of success. It is rare to get any proposal funded on the first try; anticipate applying to several fellowships or grants for the same project, including applying to multiple rounds of the same fellowships or grants.

  11. If you cannot do fieldwork in the "traditional" way, that's ok. We welcome alternative ways of learning about variation in the human experience. You will almost certainly still need funding to do so and a good proposal at the end of your second year sets you on the path to success. 

  12. Continually solicit feedback on your work via presentations in lab meetings and academic conferences. Seek internal feedback well in advance.  Circulate all co-authored presentations and posters at least one week (and preferably two) to all co-authors prior to dissemination (e.g. presentation at meetings, grant or conference applications, etc.). Circulate manuscripts, to all co-authors at least two weeks (and preferably one month) before submitting them for review.  Give your co-authors enough time to provide feedback on your work, to remove themselves as co-authors, and, in rare instances, to suggest that your work is not ready for presentation. Timely circulation of work should prevent this last eventuality from arising. Build in time to incorporate co-authors’ feedback into your work before dissemination. Attend at least one professional conference every year and begin presenting in these by your second year. Expect to fund conference travel, registration fees, and other expenses via your own efforts (departmental funding is available and you may be able to access extramural sources), but not through personal money! You should not have to pay to be part of the academic community. It is my job as your mentor to help secure funding to participate in the academic enterprise and your job to follow through. The HFED Lab will sometimes provide supplemental funds for research or travel to meetings if such funds are available and research is conducted in relation to HFED projects. Any reimbursement for your expenses from lab coffers must be pre-authorized in writing to avoid the potential for miscommunication.

  13. Be first author of all of your dissertation chapters and submit at least two of these as manuscripts for review prior to defending your PhD dissertation. To be a first author in the lab, you must write a full draft of a manuscript that is of reasonable quality for submission to one of the journals of our field (Evolution & Human Behavior, Human Nature, American Journal of Human Biology, etc.). If a co-author has to revise your manuscript prior to submission without making major overhauls to reasoning or analysis, you should anticipate maintaining your position as first author. If a co-author has to substantially re-write your manuscript, you might no longer be first author. Please realize that no co-author is likely to be completely satisfied with your first drafts, but that this diminishes in no way your efforts, abilities, or intelligence. Do not allow perfectionism to stand in the way of contributing to our field.

  14. Attend all lab group, journal club, and seminars. This includes job talks and faculty presentations. Meet with speakers and visitors whose work interests you and seek their input on your work. If you cannot attend in person or require accommodations to participate, please let me know! 

  15. Adhere to this approximate timeline:

    1. Year 1: Coursework; develop and possibly submit NSF GRF; begin to identify specific areas of research for your dissertation and identify a plausible field site; contribute to lab projects and begin to develop your own, with or without lab data; develop language, area, and statistical skills.

    2. Year 2: Finish coursework, submit NSF GRF if not submitted in Year 1; develop an initial draft of your NSF DDRIG or related funding proposals (e.g., Wenner-Gren, Leakey, Fulbright, Fulbright Hays, etc.); complete your MA; present your work at a conference; obtain pilot funding and plan to conduct pilot work in the summer; finalize committee.

    3. Year 3: Defend your proposal and submit it for funding; continue working on publications and presentations.

    4. Year 4: Conduct fieldwork or other research.

    5. Years 5 & 6: Analyze data and write manuscripts/dissertation; submit first-authored work for publication; look for jobs and work on securing a position.

  16. When you have concerns, air them directly and politely to avoid failures due to miscommunication. Good communication is essential to a successful, mutually-respectful working relationship; develop these skills to achieve success in your academic pursuits.

  17. Combat unconscious bias. The lab is inclusive with respect to race, gender identity, disability, and socioeconomic background. Look inward and recognize beliefs and values that can lead to unconscious bias. Cultivate empathy for those who have been adversely affected by bias, and bring this understanding to your collaborations and your scholarship.

  18. Avoid inappropriate relationships: The lab adheres to UNM’s policy on consensual relationships and conflicts of interest. You should read and abide by this policy. The lab does not condone sexual or romantic relationships with any individuals whose consent may be compromised by power differentials. Any relationships potentially involving a power differential, which may be especially likely within field settings, should be immediately disclosed to the lab director. If you are aware of a lab member engaging in an inappropriate relationship, you should report this to the lab director so that appropriate action (possibly including immediate termination of fieldwork and expulsion from the lab) may be taken.


As your mentor, I will work constantly to help you succeed in this program and beyond. This includes assisting you to develop your research trajectory, meeting regularly with you to discuss your projects and engagement with the lab, providing you opportunities to work on lab projects, reviewing your applications and work, and using my networks to help connect you to people, field sites, and so on. It is my genuine goal that you succeed in our program and that you will make important contributions in your future career. Our mutual understanding of expectations will aid considerably in our joint efforts to advance the field of evolutionary and disability anthropology.

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