Two PhD positions in natural-built environmental sensing, University of Virginia

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Two PhD positions in natural-built environmental sensing, University of Virginia

Claire Griffin
Two Ph.D. Positions open at the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences  

Dr. Howard Epstein and collaborators at UVA are looking for two motivated graduate students to work on an NSF-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. 

Terrestrial: This Ph.D. project will be co-advised by Dr. 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. 

Aquatic: This Ph.D. project will be co-advised by Dr. Epstein and Dr. Claire G. Griffin (UVA Environmental Sciences). A network of water level and water quality sensors in ponds and lagoons throughout Utqiagvik 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. 

  • 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 24hr of sunlight. 

Start date: Jan 2021 or Summer 2021 – there is some flexibility, but the aim is to have graduate students join for our inaugural summer field season in June 2021. 
Compensation: Students will be supported by a combination of RA and TA appointments, and the details can be discussed with Dr. Epstein. 

To apply: Contact Dr. Epstein prior to application to discuss projects at [hidden email]. Students who are interested should contact Dr. Epstein by October 1st, 2020, and send a brief description of their research interests and experience, a CV/resume, and informal transcripts. Information on applying to UVA can be found here: Applications fees may be waived on request. Candidates from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds including women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and members of other underrepresented communities are strongly encouraged to apply.  

Claire G. Griffin
Postdoctoral Associate, UVA
Ph.D., Marine Science

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