Ecosystems and Global Change Research Group at Virginia Tech

What are the ecosystems of the future?

We study how ecosystems, especially forests, change over time in response to global change forcing (climate, nitrogen deposition, and land-use).  We have a particular interest in carbon and nitrogen cycling, but think broadly about how anthropogenic stressors interact to affect many ecosystems at multiple scales.

To address these questions, we work across a wide range of spatial scales, from individual trees to the globe using a broad set of tools, including ecosystem and Earth System models, remote sensing, large dataset analysis, and whole-ecosystem flux measurements.

Two Graduate Assistantships in Ecosystem Forecasting at Virginia Tech

The Thomas Lab in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech has funding for two graduate student positions to start in either January or August 2018. We are looking for enthusiastic and highly self-motivated students at the M.S. or Ph.D. level to develop and apply innovative new techniques in model-data fusion to forecast ecosystem dynamics.

Position 1: The graduate student will help integrate remote sensing with a process-based model to study forest carbon cycling in the Southeastern U.S. This position is part of a recently-funded NASA project focused on integrating managed forests into models predicting land-use and land-cover change.

Position 2: The graduate student will help integrate high-frequency sensor data with process-based models to study reservoir water quality responses to changing climate and management. This position is part of a recently-funded NSF project that will develop a water quality forecasting system for a drinking water supply reservoir and Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) site.

Both positions are highly interdisciplinary graduate projects that will combine modeling, ecosystem forecasting, and data-intensive analytical approaches from ecology, computer science, and social science.

We seek conscientious and energetic students with strong quantitative and computing skills who can work independently in a collaborative environment. To learn more about what we do, please visit our lab website: http://epics.frec.vt.edu. Students are also encouraged to apply to be a fellow in Virginia Tech’s Interfaces of Global Change graduate program (http://globalchange.vt.edu) and interact with other students in the Virginia Water Research Center (http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu) and Center for Environmental Applications of Remote Sensing (http://www.cears.cnre.vt.edu) that is housed within our department. Virginia Tech, as Virginia’s leading research and land grant institution, has a strong interdisciplinary focus on the environment and natural sciences, and is located in scenic southwestern Virginia.

The student positions will be funded on a combination of research and teaching assistantships, which include a competitive stipend, tuition waiver, and health insurance benefits. Interested students should send an email letter of inquiry containing an overview of your research interests, your C.V., an unofficial transcript, a list of past research experiences and mentors, and GRE scores (if available) to Quinn Thomas (rqthomas@vt.edu).  Please feel free to contact me with questions about the application process, graduate school at Virginia Tech, or potential research ideas.