02 Mar 2021

Opportunties to Join the Johnson Lab

Despite the URL, we are interested in phylogenomics of all plants, not only mosses!

The Johnson Lab is accepting applicants at all levels! Our lab is broadly interested in plant phylogenomics– using the phylogeny to ask questions about the evolution of plant genomes. We are interested in any group of plants, but we often work with bryophytes. As a result of often working on non-model organisms, we are frequently adapting existing bioinformatics tools to work more efficiently for non-model organisms.

Prospective scholars at all levels should check out our Publications and Projects pages to get an idea of the current research going on in the lab. Applicants of diverse backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply, including women and members of underrepresented minority groups. Texas Tech recently received designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution, and we welcome Hispanic scholars at all levels!

All members of the Johnson Lab are expected to follow the Code of Conduct and should review the Lab Expectations document.

Postdoctoral fellows

Opening in Bioinformatics Methods Development, October 2022: Click here for more details and how to apply.

We are also willing to sponsor potential post-doctoral fellows through programs such as the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellows in Biology, the Ford Foundation or the L’Oreal Women in Science fellowship programs.

Prospective post-docs should send a cover letter that includes the names and contacts for three references and a short statement of research interests, along with a current CV to matt.johnsonobfuscate@ttu.edu

Undergraduate students

The Johnson Lab is accepting undergraduate students interested in any of our research projects. Student projects generally fall into three areas:

  • Working with specimens in the E.L. Reed Herbarium.
  • Laboratory projects (DNA extraction, PCR, electrophoresis).
  • Bioinformatics projects (working with high-throughput DNA sequencing data).

Within each of these project areas, students can get involved in several ways:

We typically ask for at least two-semester commitment from undergraduates, because training and background reading will often take most of the first semester.

Research Credits

Biology majors at Texas Tech may count 6 research credits towards their biology major as elective courses. I can also support students in other majors, by making agreements with professors in the home department. You should work with your academic advisor to ensure that research credits will not “overload” your course load and will fit within your degree plan.

For BIOL4100, students are expected to participate in data collection activities for an average of 2-3 hours per week. Activities may include preparation of herbarium specimens, digitization of collections, and participation in Herbarium group events (lab meetings, outreach events, etc).

For BIOL4300, students are expected to conduct an independent project that typically spans two semesters. In each semester, students prepare a “final product.” Previous final products have included research papers, detailed protocols, poster presentations, data visualizations, and computer programs. Projects will usually take 8-10 hours per week on average, though it is flexible week-to-week.


I typically do not accept volunteers in the lab, for several reasons: there is liability associated with students working in the lab that is more formally covered by directed course research or work study opportunities. There is also more accountability (in both directions) for course credit and student assistant positions, which helps ensure that a project is finished efficiently. Finally, not all students can afford to volunteer in a lab, and this creates an inequity problem.

Interested students should contact me (matt.johnsonobfuscate@ttu.edu) for further questions.

Graduate students

The lab is currently accepting graduate students for both the Masters and Doctoral track. Students interested in the interface between plant evolution and genomics or the development of new bioinformatics methods for phylogenomics, are encouraged to apply.

Students interested in applying should review the “Potential Graduate Student Projects” page, and fill out the Prospective Student form. Typically students will apply October - December to begin their graduate program the following fall. We do not typically accept students who wish to begin in the spring semester.

More information about applying to grad school at Texas Tech can be found on the TTU Biology Website. The Department of Biological Sciences supports graduate students through Teaching Assistant positions (TAs) during the fall and spring semesters. These TA positions are guaranteed for Master’s students for 3 years and for Doctoral students for 5 years. Additional funding, including summer TA and RA support, is contingent upon availability of external grants. You can see how the PhD stipend at Texas Tech compares to other schools using this web app made by Shelly Gaynor and Rhett Rautsaw.

Graduate students are encouraged to apply before December 1 to be eligible for several internal fellowships to supplement the TA stipend. I am also happy to discuss sponsoring Graduate Research Fellowship Program students or Ford Fellowship applicants.

Equal Opportunity Employment

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