Two PhD students in water quality modelling

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA, USA 🇺🇸

The Sustainable Watersheds Group is recruiting two PhD students in water quality modelling for August 2024! Permalink

The Sustainable Watersheds Group in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia is recruiting two PhD students for August 2024! We’re looking for motivated and enthusiastic students that are interested in advancing our knowledge of the natural infrastructure in the environment (e.g. streams, wetlands, lakes) as nature-based solutions to protect our water resources.

Available Positions Permalink

Position 1: Quantifying the role of ‘biogeochemical hotspots’ (e.g. wetlands, riparian zones, etc.) in modifying water quality at watershed scales. Potential research areas could include: estimating changes in landscape biogeochemical cycles due to hydrologic extremes; quantifying how different management strategies of wetlands, reservoirs and/or riparian zones affect nutrient and contaminant fluxes to downstream waters, etc.; using machine or deep learning models to predict occurrences of algal blooms

Position 2: Quantifying the co-benefits and trade-offs between ecosystem functions under changing environmental conditions and anthropogenic pressures. Potential research areas could include: developing/using process-based models coupling hydrologic and biogeochemical processes; quantifying trade-offs between carbon storage, greenhouse gas emission, water quality improvements, etc. of different biogeochemical hotspots; exploring how combinations of different hotspots can enhance watershed biogeochemical functions.

Required/Preferred Qualifications

Successful applicants should:

  1. have or be completing an undergraduate degree in environmental science or engineering, hydrology, biogeochemistry, aquatic sciences, geosciences, physical geography, data science, or related fields (a master’s degree in one of the listed fields would be highly desirable);
  2. Have experience in, or have strong interest in developing skills in, many of the following: scientific computing (in one of R, MATLAB, Python), data science, geospatial analysis, statistical modelling and/or deterministic modelling.
  3. Past research experience is beneficial, but not required.

Both positions will be funded by research and teaching assistantships, which will include a competitive stipend, tuition waiver, and insurance benefits. The PhD program within the Graduate School of Arts and Science guarantees five years of funding. Office space, computing resources, and travel funds will be provided.

How to Apply Permalink

If you have questions and/or are interested in joining our group, please contact Dr. Frederick Cheng as soon as possible (fycheng\ with the subject line “Prospect graduate student”. Preliminary contact by Nov 1, 2023 is preferred so that we can chat to see if the position will be a good fit. All qualified applications reaching out prior to Nov 1 will be considered; however, only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. Students from underrepresented groups in environmental sciences are highly encouraged to apply. Please include the following in your email:

  1. A copy of your CV
  2. A brief description of why you are interested in joining our group
  3. A brief description of any prior research activities, and/or relevant skills (please note that direct research experience, and the listed skills above are not required for admission)
  4. A brief summary of your current and future career/educational interests

Formal applications to the University of Virginia are due January 15, 2024 for the fall 2024 semester, but sponsorship by a faculty member is essential. See for further information on the formal application process.





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