I combine observations of natural systems and experimental data with models to make inferences about mechanisms in nature. This combination (observations, experiments, models) helps me to rigorously test logical, relevant ideas, and I think that interaction among these modes of inference yields powerful conclusions about nature. I am keen on training students who want to combine these approaches in their own work, or who are at least open-minded to linking the three.
I really enjoy interacting with my scientific colleagues, and I am keen on recruiting students who want to interact with me and others in the lab and department. Discussion of ideas over coffee, beer, lunch, lab meetings, and blackboards is fun. I anticipate that students in the lab will learn from and possibly collaborate with me, but also from/with each other and others in the intellectual communities that they form. Students cannot be afraid of constructive criticism - giving and receiving - since this helps us to learn. Attendance at seminars, brown bags, journal clubs, etc., will be expected, since these are functions of a vibrant academic community.
While I invite students to consider questions or work in systems closely related to the ones I pursue, this is definitely not a requirement. In fact, I will strongly encourage you to independently/interdependently form your own novel, interesting, answerable questions, with help and guidance from me (of course) and others. I do not assign dissertation projects to students. Instead, I will try to offer resources - intellectual and financial - to help you find your own path.
I would like to point out that IU offers a few opportunities for disease ecology and evolution that might interest students looking at the Hall lab or me as a potential (co)advisor. The Daphnia Genome project, headed by Mike Lynch, is opening new frontiers to study ecological genomics using Daphnia (a major study organism in the Hall lab). In collaboration with others at IU (especially Mike Lynch and Curt Lively), it will become possible to conduct interdisciplinary study of ecological and evolutionary dynamics of disease, using Daphnia and its parasites, at the scale of molecules to species interactions and ecosystems. (More about Daphnia and its parasites can be found by reading Dieter Ebert's book).