Two PhD Positions Available: Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology - University of Virginia

Date: 
14 September 2020

Two PhD Positions Available
Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia

Application deadline: 1 October 2020

For more information and questions, contact:
Howard Epstein
Email: hee2b [at] virginia.edu

Claire Griffin
Email: cg4pm [at] virginia.edu


The University of Virginia (UVA) invites applications for two graduate students in terrestrial and aquatic ecology. These positions, with guaranteed funding for five years, will be located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The graduate students will work on a National Science Foundation-funded Navigating the New Arctic project, using field-based sensor data to understand coupled natural-built environments in Utqiagvik, Alaska. The transdisciplinary project includes environmental scientists, local residents of Utqiagvik, architects and designers, social scientists, and data scientists to explore how the built environment interacts with natural systems, and how to use this information in design and planning decisions. Co-production of knowledge with the local community is a key component of the project, and team members are studying how an interdisciplinary team communicates with each other, and community partners.

The two positions will focus on terrestrial or aquatic components of the system. For the terrestrial component, the PhD project will be co-advised by Dr. Howard Epstein and Dr. Luis Felipe Murillo Rosado (UVA School of Data Science) to install a network of micrometeorological stations monitoring land-atmosphere interactions along coastal and urban gradients. Extensive datasets will be analyzed to understand how components of the built environment influence local meteorological conditions, and part of the project will include strategies for making the data accessible to various stakeholders.

For the aquatic component, the PhD project will be co-advised by Dr. Howard Epstein and Dr. Claire G. Griffin (UVA Environmental Sciences). A network of water level and water quality sensors in ponds and lagoons throughout Utqiagvik, Alaska and the adjacent tundra will be used to understand interactions between infrastructure and hydrochemistry at a landscape scale, and include significant data visualization/accessibility components.

Qualifications include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, data science, ecology, or related field. Master’s degree is a plus;
  • Previous research experience is preferred, especially with regard to using environmental sensing equipment, handling large data sets, and time series analyses;
  • Interest in field and data science and strong communication skills are required. This project centers on collaboration with a wide range of team members, including Utqiagvik residents, architects, designers, and social scientists. Willingness to listen and engage with a diverse group is essential;
  • Ability to travel and work during sometimes extreme conditions is key. Site visits may include winter weather, with temperatures as low as -40F. Summer conditions will often be wet, buggy, and with 24 hours of sunlight.

To apply, contact Dr. Epstein prior to application to discuss projects at hee2b [at] virginia.edu. Students who are interested should send a brief description of their research interests and experience, a curriculum vitae/resume, and informal transcripts. Information on applying to UVA can be found at https://evsc.as.virginia.edu/prospective-graduate-students. Applications fees may be waived on request.

Application deadline: 1 October 2020

For more information, contact:
Howard Epstein
Email: hee2b [at] virginia.edu

Claire Griffin
Email: cg4pm [at] virginia.edu