PhD: Climate Risk and Adaptive Infrastructure

Rice University
Houston, TX, United States
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Prospective PhD students are invited to apply to my group in Rice Civil and Environmental Engineering, where I’m starting in January.

Our core research theme is developing infrastructure management strategies that integrate nonstructural instruments (including insurance, nature-based solutions, early warning systems, and household-scale adaptation) into existing infrastructure to improve near-term system performance while simultaneously increasing capacity to flexibly manage deeply uncertain long-term changes. Through generative environmental modeling, uncertainty quantification/characterization, and optimization as well as deep collaboration with academic and community partners, we’re looking for effective and applicable strategies.

Strong candidates have strong quantitative and critical thinking skills, are curious to explore new ideas, perspectives, and methods, and can clearly articulate their research goals. Funding is not tied to a particular project but applicants should articulate interest in mission-oriented basic research that advances the broad themes articulated above.

Minimum qualifications

Preferred qualifications


No applicant is expected to have all of these characteristics. Ph.D. students are just that -- students -- and we will teach you what you need to know. If you're not sure whether you're a good fit, reach out!.

  • Ability to code in at least one programming language (Julia or Python preferred)
  • Coursework in any of: Bayesian modeling, machine learning, water systems analysis, electricity systems, hydrology, climate dynamics, reinforcement learning, optimization, software engineering, economics, or similar
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Firsthand experience collaborating with stakeholders to design, build, or critique infrastructure systems

Why Rice CEE

There are many fantastic graduate programs for smart and motivated students! All of them will expose you to brilliant faculty, professional development opportunities, and rigorous courses. However, please permit a brief sales pitch:

  • Houston is a great place to live. Compared to other large cities in the US, Houston is relatively affordable and offers a high standard of living. Houston is also sunny, diverse, and host to a great international food scene. Rice’s campus is stunningly beautiful.
  • Campus culture at Rice in general, and in CEE in particular, is friendly and collaborative.
  • The region is a living urban laboratory for issues including flooding, drought, urban water systems, and renewable energy. (As detailed in our lab guide it is important to approach case studies with humility and deep respect for our partners).

How to apply

As explained here, you must apply to the program of your choice in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. You are strongly encouraged to:

  1. send an email with your current CV, a statement of your personal and research interests, and any relevant experience before submitting your departmental application
  2. request information from Rice Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  3. examine the admissions requirements on the Rice CEE website


The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering requires the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) as part of a holistic application review. However, since research indicates that the GRE primarily identifies race and socio-economic status, and its usefullness to predict research ability is limited at best, I will not consider GRE scores to allocate graduate research assistantships. If the GRE requirement or application fee poses a burden you, please reach out.