UNC – IREU Ecuador (2020)
See Program Flyer UNC – IREU

The Carbonshed Lab at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications for International Research Experiences for Undergraduates (IREU) during the summer 2020 and the academic year 2020-2021. Up to four paid positions are available to outstanding undergraduate students interested in gaining field and lab experience in hydrological and ecological processes. Selected students will participate in an international research experience focused on data collection in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador during the summer 2020, in collaboration with Ph.D. students at UNC and Ecuadorian scientists at our strategic partner, the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).

See a story about this year’s IREU scholars published by Endeavors Magazine: http://endeavors.unc.edu/climate-game-changers/

Upon their return to the U.S., students will participate in outreach activities with the Museum of Life and Sciences in Durham, NC, and be supported through a research-intensive, year-long program focusing on increasing their chance to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The year will culminate with a formal research presentation by each student at UNC’s Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research, which takes place on UNC campus every April.

CRS Designation:

After successfully completing field, outreach, and professional development activities, students will receive a research designation on their transcript and will graduate as a Carolina Research Scholar.

Project Description:

A rapidly growing body of work recognizes inland waters as fundamental players in the carbon cycle. In particular, headwater streams have been the focus of recent scientific investigations because they connect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, having a higher proportion of stream water volume in direct contact with adjacent soils. While the importance of headwater streams in the global carbon cycle is clear today, CO2 effluxes from headwater catchments are poorly constrained.

The UNC-IREU students will help fill conceptual gaps related to carbon cycling at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Students will collect direct measurements of CO2 and CH4 fluxes from different landscape elements (uplands, wetlands, streams) and conduct field assessments of hydrologic connectivity across these elements.

Location: The field site is located above 3,600m in elevation, in the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve and National Park in northern Ecuador. Project personnel will stay near USFQ campus in Cumbayá and travel to the field every day.

Field work under strenuous conditions is expected.

Dates: This program starts on May 18, 2020 and extends through the end of the academic year (April 2021). Travel to Ecuador will take place over 8 weeks in summer, 2020.

Each participant will receive:

  • A summer stipend ($3,600)
  • Round-trip airfare to Ecuador
  • Housing while in Ecuador
  • Ground transportation while in Ecuador
  • Travel allowance while in Ecuador


  • Any rising sophomore, junior, or senior in good academic standing, interested in hydrology, environmental science or studies, geography, geology, biology, freshwater ecology, biogeochemistry, soil science, and related STEM fields
  • A valid U.S. passport through at least the end of 2020
  • Are you from a group that has been traditionally underrepresented in science? Are you first generation in your family to go to college? We want you to apply!

How to apply:

  • An essay expressing research interests and career goals (e.g., what are your qualifications? why this project? what do you expect to gain from this experience? why are you a good candidate?)
  • CV/Resume, including coursework to date, GPA, work experience
  • Two letters of recommendation, emailed separately.
  • Email your essay and CV/resume to Diego Riveros-Iregui (diegori [at] unc [dot] edu) with the heading ‘Application for UNC-IREU Ecuador’). Please arrange the two letters to be sent to the same email address.

Review of applications will begin January 31, 2020 and will continue until suitable applicants are found. Selected applicants will be notified by March 1, 2020.



Ph.D. Positions (2019)

Currently I’m recruiting two highly motivated students to join my lab at the Ph.D. level to start in fall 2020.  If you have a M.S. degree (or equivalent research experience) and if you are already fluent in GIS, computer programming, and MATLAB, please contact me for details. Send me your CV and a two-page research statement.

Potential project topics include but are not limited to:

  1. Watershed carbon transformation and flux in soil and streams
  2. Ecohydrology of the humid tropics
  3. Water quantity and quality in the face of environmental change
  4. Human-environment interactions

Typically I advise Ph.D. students in geography (geography.unc.edu) or in our newly established E3P program (e3p.unc.edu). Thus, I encourage you to visit these sites and learn about each program. The project that you will work on will be essentially the same, but the requirements for each program are slightly different and your degree will be different (i.e., Geography vs. Ecology).