Special opportunity to participate in the T3 PhD Program in Ecological and Environmental Informatics

NAU recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to support an innovative new PhD curriculum that blends environmental sciences with informatics, and I'm actively recruiting well-qualified students. Prospective students could work on one of the research questions below, or develop an related question, focused around the theme of how climate change affects the health and productivity of ecosystems. More information is available here.

Funding Opportunities: During the initial four years (2019-2022), the T3 program will provide 1- to 2-year fellowships that offer a competitive stipend (full funding of $30,000 per year) for about 6 incoming students per year. Additional research and travel funds are available through a competitive application process.

Please email me if you're interested in working with me and other faculty involved in this cohort-based Program at NAU.

Potential Projects

Patterns and processes of rapid Arctic warming based on paleoclimate observations and models

We are seeking a cohort of graduate students to join an NSF-ARCSS-funded interdisciplinary team at the University at Buffalo (UB) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) that aims to better understand the feedbacks, patterns, and processes associated with rapid warming in the Arctic. We are seeking a cohort of graduate students to join an NSF-ARCSS-funded interdisciplinary team at the University at Buffalo (UB) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) that aims to better understand the feedbacks, patterns, and processes associated with rapid warming in the Arctic. The UB team will quantify the climate response to three periods of abrupt warming (14,500; 11,700; and 8,000 years ago) by generating new temperature and precipitation records based on lipid biomarkers and compound-specific isotopes. We will also refine and apply proxy system models, which allows more direct comparison with climate model output for these time periods. The NAU team will develop new methods for extensive and precise chronological control for our sediment records, and will conduct paleoclimate data synthesis, analysis, and climate modeling. There are opportunities for semester-long exchanges between UB and NAU. The project team will also contribute to outreach efforts that aim to connect K–12 students in Buffalo and Flagstaff to higher-education opportunities. We are looking for highly motivated students with excellent communication skills in English (written and oral), and with experience with, or a strong interest in developing skills in, numerical modeling and scientific programming skills. We encourage candidates from groups underrepresented in the geosciences (including, but not limited to, black, indigenous, and people of color) to apply; we are committed to creating an inclusive environment where all team members can learn and excel. If you’re interested in applying to work on this project or just want to learn more, check out our research websites:

Degree options at NAU include:


Dust-drought interactions in the southwest United States

We are seeking a highly-motivated Ph.D. student to work on a foundation-funded project investigating dust-climate interactions in the southwest United states at NAU. This project is the second phase of a collaborative research project between Northern Arizona University and Cornell University (with Drs. Toby Ault and Carlos Carillo). This project will leverage our strength and our recent success to tackle a new and highly ambitious project: tracking the flow of dust from the land surface into the atmosphere using low-cost sensors mounted on uncrewed aircraft and weather balloons.

The primary questions we seek to answer are:

(1) What are the primary short-term controls on dust emissions, transport and deposition in the region? How much influence does land management have on dust emission?

(2) Can we hindcast, and potentially forecast, dust emission, transport and deposition? What would a sustainable, large-scale dust monitoring, assimilation and forecasting operation look like, and how could it be used to informed land management and policy?

To address these questions, we will work collaboratively with Cornell University to design and deploy instruments in northeastern Arizona with the goal of monitoring the full dust cycle, including emission, transport and deposition. A major component of this project is using the results to inform recommendations for land management and policy, and communication of the key results to local and national stakeholders. The ideal candidate will have experience with fieldwork, lab and numerical analyses, and eager to work with local stakeholders including Native American communities, land management agencies and the funding foundation.

For more information, checkout a recent news article about the project, or get in touch with us.

Degree options at NAU include:


Testing the resilience of US Food-Energy-Water systems to megadrought

We seek prospective Ph.D. students to work with Dr. Nick McKay and Dr. Ben Ruddell to pursue an interdisciplinary Ph.D. that blends paleoclimatology and sustainability research. This project focuses on investigating how modern food, water and economic infrastructure would cope with severe prehistoric droughts in the southwest US, which were both more extreme and longer-lived than anything observed during the past 200 years. Prospective students will be integrated with both the Paleoclimate Dynamics Laboratory and the Complex Systems Informatics Laboratory at NAU, as well as the larger FEWSion project, which is mapping the interconnectivity between food, energy and water, and their responses to shocks and stresses, for the United States.

Degree options include:

Want to learn more?

Check out our team here!