Two fully-funded Ph.D. opportunities in aquatic greenhouse gas emissions and aquatic ecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Carbonshed Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invite applications for up to two Ph.D. positions to begin fall 2024. Our lab uses site-specific, field- and lab-based studies as well as continental-scale monitoring data to understand spatiotemporal variation in processes such as greenhouse gas dynamics and energy sources to aquatic food webs. Our current research falls under three main questions:

Opportunity #1: How do hydrology and biogeochemistry affect ecology and greenhouse gas dynamics?

Opportunity #2: Water-carbon linkages in high-elevation, tropical wetlands

Successful candidates will be encouraged to design a project that excites them and complements existing projects. Ideally, we envision work that will progress our understanding of anthropogenically-affected spatiotemporal variation in greenhouse gas efflux from streams draining developed watersheds, but we strongly welcome all project ideas complementing existing lab foci. Successful candidates will also have the opportunity to interact with and participate in ongoing work using large databases (National Ecological Observatory Network, Tropical Inland Water Greenhouse Gas Project) to predict aquatic greenhouse gas fluxes from catchment to continental scales. Our research group has a strong emphasis on respectful and productive collaboration facilitated by dedication to a mutually empathetic and inclusive work environment. Selected candidates will have the opportunity to mentor as well as learn from current and future lab members. Students will have the opportunity to network with a vibrant community of graduate students in the UNC Department of Geography, as well as with the broader graduate student community across the UNC Institute for the Environment, Department of Biology, and Department of Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with collaborators at nearby Duke University.

Minimum qualifications: Candidates from a range of academic majors and backgrounds are encouraged to apply, especially from majors such as earth science, biology, environmental science, geography, ecology, and chemistry. Idea candidates will already have a M.S. degree or equivalent research experience, a passion for learning and scientific exploration, and a commitment to equity and inclusion. A positive attitude and the ability to work both independently and part of a team are required. Candidates from historically and currently marginalized groups are particularly encouraged to apply and to ask the questions necessary to ensure they can feel safe, supported and comfortable in the lab, university, community, and field environments.

Funding: These positions are funded on competitive research and teaching assistantships for up to five years. Students will be supported and encouraged to apply for university and national fellowships and our labs have a successful track record. Both positions include tuition waiver, health insurance benefits, $1,000 moving costs, and funding to attend academic conferences annually. Early admission and fellowship application close December 1st 2023.

Need more information?

How to apply: Qualified students are invited to apply for graduate admission to the Department of Geography or to the Environment, Ecology, and Energy program at UNC.  The application deadline is December 1, 2023.

Questions can be directed to diegori@unc.edu.  Prospective candidates are encouraged to send an email expressing their interests.


UNC – IREU Ecuador (2023)
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 2023 and through the academic year 202-2023. 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 a research experience focused on data collection in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and the North Carolina Piedmont. International travel for this experience is contingent upon the status of COVID guidelines and regulations at UNC.

Undergraduate students will work in collaboration with UNC Ph.D. students and Ecuadorian scientists at our strategic partner, the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Students will also 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 STEM fields. Participants will be required to attend professional development and research workshops offered by UNC’s Undergraduate Research Office. The year will culminate with a formal research presentation by each student at UNC’s Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in April, 2022.

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

CRS Designation:

After successfully completing field, outreach, and professional development activities, students will receive a research designation on their transcript and 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, CO2effluxes from headwater catchments are poorly constrained. UNC-IREU students will help fill conceptual gaps related to carbon cycling at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Students will collect field measurements of CO2 and CH4 fluxes from different landscape elements (uplands, wetlands, streams) and conduct hydrologic observations of these elements.

Field Sites: Our field site abroad is located above 3,600m in elevation, in the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve and National Park, near Quito, Ecuador. Our local field site is located in Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. In both cases, field work under strenuous conditions is expected.

Dates: This program starts on June 1, 2023 and extends through April, 2024. Travel to Ecuador will take place for 4-6 weeks in summer 2023.

Each participant will receive:

  • A summer stipend
  • Ground transportation in NC
  • Support through a research-intensive, year-long program focusing on increasing their chance to succeed in STEM fields

Provided all research team can travel safely to Ecuador as recommended under CDC guidelines (https://cdc.gov), each participant will receive:

  • Round-trip airfare to Ecuador
  • Housing while in Ecuador
  • Ground transportation while in Ecuador


  • Any rising sophomore, rising junior, or rising 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 June 2024
  • 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
  • Contact information (name, email address, phone number) of two people who can provide a recommendation for you. Referees will be contacted with instructions on how to submit a recommendation.
  • Email your essay and CV/resume to Diego Riveros-Iregui (diegori [at] unc [dot] edu) with the heading ‘Application for UNC-IREU Ecuador’).

Review of applications will begin March 1, 2023 and will continue until suitable applicants are found. Selected applicants will be notified by March 31, 2023.