UNC – IREU Ecuador (2022)
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 2022-2023. 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 May 23, 2023 and extends through April, 2023 (i.e., the end of the academic year). Travel to Ecuador will take place for 4-8 weeks in summer 2022.

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 2023
  • 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, March 15, 2022 and will continue until suitable applicants are found. Selected applicants will be notified by March 31, 2022.



Ph.D. Positions (2018)

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).