Join the McMahon Lab

Join the Lab!We are always interested in recruiting bright, motivated, and curious researchers. I am particularly open to helping promising applicants apply for fellowship opportunities.




Graduate Applicants

As of November 8, 2023, I am not sure whether I will be taking any new students for Fall 2024. However, I have a pending research grant proposal and other uncertainties that could open a funded position with notice before the April 15 deadline.  I am currently collecting responses from prospective students in this google form.

Students can join my lab by entering through one of four graduate programs: Microbiology (deadline Dec 1), Freshwater and Marine Sciences (deadline Jan 1), Environmental Chemistry and Technology (deadline Dec 15), or Environmental Engineering (deadline Dec 15). The annual stipend varies by program, though all provide tuition remission and health insurance. Graduate students at UW-Madison are responsible for paying segregated fees each semester.

UW-Madison and Professor McMahon are committed to providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds to help create a welcoming, empowered, and inclusive community. We encourage women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities to apply.


This is not the formal grad school application that would be required for admission to UW-Madison. The formal application includes a $75 fee. My reason for encouraging you to use this form is to save you the fee if my lab does not seem like a good fit. I will review your submission and reach out to you for a zoom conversation to talk about funding possibilities, if your interests and preparation align with potentially available projects.


Undergraduate Applicants

We encourage undergraduates to join our research team. Interested students should submit a list of current and planned course work, and a 1-2 paragraph statement about why you want to work in our lab. We are most interested in enthusiastic and motivated students who can commit at least two full years to research (freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to apply), with a minimum of 5-10 hours per week during the academic year.

My mentoring philosophy

Mentoring Philosophy SectionI put a great deal of thought and effort into mentoring my students and postdocs. It is my job as a professor to help each student/postdoc achieve you personal goals during the time that you are in my lab, and beyond. I will help you tailor the courses you take, the research projects you work on, and the outreach/teaching activities you engage in, to match your goals. We meet regularly to discuss progress towards these goals and possible changes in your path.

I expect my students and postdocs to be highly independent, developing research directions and collaborations beyond their initial primary project. I provide lab members with opportunities to participate in grant proposal writing and large collaborative projects within and beyond UW-Madison. Our research group very much functions as a team and I place a high priority on best practices for “team science” which include open communication, mutual respect, accountability, and shared vision.

The effectiveness of my mentoring is demonstrated by the high degree of success of my former students and postdocs, several of whom have moved on to tenure-track positions at prestigious institutions.

A detailed description of my expectations of graduate students can be found here.