Skip to main content

Fall 2024 Graduate Assistantships

Each year, faculty fellows at the Center for Geospatial Analytics seek prospective students for graduate assistantships funded through external grants. Opportunities available for students applying for Fall 2024 admission to the Ph.D. program in Geospatial Analytics will be posted below as funding is confirmed. You can also find a list of faculty who will be recruiting new students for Fall 2024 here.

A Ph.D. position is available in estimating greenhouse gas emissions using satellite observations with Dr. Zhen Qu’s Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Lab. The successful candidate will apply machine learning, statistical analysis, supercomputer simulations, satellite data, and atmospheric simulations to estimate the sources and evolution of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The student can also be involved with analyzing environmental justice and regulation implications using the results.

Greenhouse gas mitigation attracts a lot of attention and financial support. This project aims to combine big data with new machine learning and statistical techniques to advance our understanding of climate change and greenhouse gases. The result is expected to have a high impact and support the Global Stocktake of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

There are plenty of job opportunities in addition to academia in this field, including climate-related research positions at tech companies (e.g., Google, Microsoft, etc.), consultant positions on climate change and energy transition (e.g., at McKinsey, BCG, etc.), energy trading (e.g., Boston Energy Trading), oil and gas companies, NGOs, government and national labs (EPA, NASA, NOAA, NCAR, etc.).

Desired skills:
– Communication, teamwork, and academic writing skills
– Interest and motivation for research
– Experience with machine learning and statistical modeling, high-performance computing, programming (Python, FORTRAN, etc.), satellite observations, and atmospheric models is highly desired

Please email Dr. Qu ( your CV, transcript, and research interests before submitting an application.

Dr. Dan Obenour, a Center for Geospatial Analytics Faculty Fellow in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, is seeking a graduate student to fill an open research assistant position in the Environmental Modeling and Forecasting lab group. The position will focus on modeling of nutrient flows and downstream water quality impacts. This position is associated with STEPS, a convergence research center focused on phosphorus sustainability. Through STEPS, the selected student will have opportunities to interact closely with researchers in other fields, provide stakeholder outreach, and support junior students, including those from under-represented groups.

Primary responsibilities will include computational modeling and the development of scholarly manuscripts and presentations. The student will be based at either the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering or the Center for Geospatial Analytics, depending on the student’s background and interests. Preference will be given to motivated candidates with expertise in one or more of the following areas: water quality dynamics, geospatial analysis, coding, statistical modeling, and/or machine learning.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Obenour (, providing a resume/CV and brief summary of research interests and qualifications. Outstanding candidates will be encouraged to submit a full application ( Members of under-represented groups are especially encouraged to apply. The position is available in January 2024, though later start dates (e.g., August 2024) will be considered.

Learn more about this opportunity here: Nutrient and Water Resources Modeling Graduate Opportunity

Dr. Chris Jones, a Research Scholar in the Center for Geospatial Analytics, is seeking a PhD student with a strong interest in spatial modeling and agricultural crop pest management. This position will focus on using the Pest or Pathogen Spread (PoPS) model to document dispersal patterns of corn earworm, a major pest of crops in the eastern United States. To do this, the candidate will leverage several decades of corn earworm trap data already collected to calibrate and validate a spread model for this pest. This model will simulate the reproduction, dispersal, and establishment of corn earworm over time to explore changes in population cycles due to both abiotic and biotic factors. We will use the calibrated model to explore future responses to climate change using global climate model projections. We will also assess the accuracy of future forecasts with data collected by the project. Additionally, we include grower stakeholders in the process to explore tradeoffs between management interventions and crop damage risk.

A background using R for analysis would be beneficial.

Interested students should contact Dr. Jones ( and include a CV. The student will be co-advised by Dr. Anders Huseth (, Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology and the North Carolina Plant Science Initiative.

Graduate research opportunities are available for studies evaluating the ecological response of a large-scale oyster restoration project in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. Potential projects will involve population modeling, benthic habitat studies, and the use of active and passive underwater acoustic data to monitor marine species.
Applicants should have a quantitative background and a strong interest in pursuing research at the intersection of marine science and geospatial analytics.

Students will receive training in field-based methods (e.g. biological sampling, seafloor mapping, and water column imaging) and advanced data science techniques (e.g. model development, geospatial statistics, and machine learning). Opportunities to obtain scuba and scientific diver certifications will be available to interested students. Research partners include the NC Coastal Federation, NC State University, NC Central University, the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, and private contractors.

For more information, please contact Dr. Del Bohnenstiehl ( and Dr. David Eggleston ( Students from groups historically underrepresented within the geo- and data-sciences (e.g. domestic students who identify as Black, Hispanic, and/or indigenous) and first-generation college graduates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Developing novel and scalable AI, computer vision, and deep learning techniques for monitoring and mapping natural resources using multi-sensor global earth observations. More info forthcoming. Contact Dr. Raju Vatsavai ( and include a copy of your CV.

Past Opportunities

Curious about what projects students have applied to work on in the past? Brief synopses are provided below:

  • Land Change Modeling –– Join the Urban Systems Lab to model urban growth, future flood hazard and human adaptive response to flooding, with a focus on scenario-based land change modeling that considers human-flood interactions.
  • Ecological Impact of Oyster Restoration –– Students who have been historically underrepresented in the sciences (must be U.S. citizens/permanent residents) are invited to participate in research related to a large oyster restoration program. Potential projects include population modeling, benthic habitat studies and the use of active and passive underwater acoustic data to monitor marine species.
  • Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling –– Join the Qu Lab to develop a research project applying satellite remote sensing observations, atmospheric chemistry models and data assimilation and machine learning methods to estimate the sources and evolution of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses. The student can also be involved with analyzing environmental justice and regulation implications using the results.
  • Spatial Social Network Analysis for Disaster Recovery –– Join the Location Matters Lab as part of a research group focused on understanding environmental and disaster recovery policy implementation through social science frameworks. The student will be actively involved in collaborations with communities recovering from disaster and nonprofit and government organizations supporting social and ecological resilience.
  • Invasive Species Modeling –– Join the Biological Invasions Lab to mode invasive species spread and early detection using remote sensing and machine learning, with a focus on invasive pest and pathogen modeling using process-based models with machine learning or remote sensing with deep learning for early detection of pest and disease symptoms using high-resolution remote and aerial imagery.
  • Geospatial Analytics for Natural Resource Challenges –– Join the Land Change Lab as part of a research group to study conservation and natural resource management in parks and protected areas, including modeling fire and ecosystem processes at landscape levels, studying the impacts of development along park boundaries and building GIS support systems for the National Park Service.
  • Global Change and Forest Hydroecology –– Join the Watershed Ecology Lab as part of a research group focused on the dynamics of forest hydrologic cycling, from the stem to space, including field research, remote sensing and forest dynamics modeling. The student will be actively involved in collaborations with the US Forest Service.
  • Urban Conservation Biology –– Join the Youngsteadt Urban Ecology Lab to examine effects of urbanization and climate change on the crystal skipper butterfly. Field work is an important component of this position.
  • Climate Change, Carbon, and Phenology –– Join the Spatial Ecosystem Analytics Lab as part of a multi-institutional team investigating changes in vegetation phenology, the impact of those changes on carbon fluxes, and the effect of drought on ecosystems.
  • Aquatic Biogeochemistry and Geospatial Modeling –– Join the Osburn Lab as part of an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team working to characterize natural and anthropogenic sources and distributions of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) in coastal watersheds. The position will be a combination of laboratory and computation activities; limited opportunities for field work are possible.
  • Engaging Stakeholders in Flood Resilience Planning through Landscape Forecasting and Interactive Decision Analytics –– Join the Landscape Dynamics Lab to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to co-envision an open source web based platform for stakeholder engagement and development of flood adaptation strategies. This platform will integrate scientific models to facilitate multi-way communication among stakeholders, decision-makers, and the research team.
  • Modeling Phosphorus Flows in Agricultural Landscapes –– Join the Biosystems Analytics Lab (Biological and Agricultural Engineering) and Obenour Lab (Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering) to join a project funded through the NSF STEPS Center at NC State.
  • Human Exposure to Air Pollution –– Join the Richmond-Bryant Lab to perform research through the Louisiana State University Superfund Research Program on Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals. The student will be part of an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team working to characterize human exposure to air pollution emitted by an open-burn-open detonation hazardous waste facility (the only commercially permitted one of its kind in the U.S.) in a community with intersecting vulnerabilities.
  • Surface Water and Flooding Dynamics with Multi-sensor Time-series of Satellite imagery –– Join the Geospatial Analysis for Environmental Change Lab to answer questions pertaining to flooding and surface water dynamics through innovative use of remotely sensed imagery as part of interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team funded by NASA.
  • Building Capacity for Improved Citizen Science by Understanding the Racial-Spatial Bias in Environmental Data –– Join the Cooper Public Science Lab to explore multiple dimensions in the design and implementation of citizen science programs to address environmental injustices and public health challenges.
  • Large Scale Change Monitoring from Multisource Imagery –– Join the Spatial Ecosystem Analytics Lab to answer questions of broad significance through innovative use of remotely sensed imagery as part of an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team building a system to monitor and characterize change over huge spatial scales using heterogeneous satellite imagery.
  • Hydro-Ecology and Forest Management for Global Change (two positions) –– Be part of collaborative project led by four faculty from the Center for Geospatial Analytics and Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources to study climate adaptive management for forest ecosystem services.
  • Analytics for Sustainable Agriculture –– Join the Biosystems Analytics Lab to leverage remotely sensed and in situ data to develop predictive and explanatory models for use in sustainable environmental and agricultural management.
  • Landscape Transformations –– Join the Dynamic Ecosystems and Landscapes Lab to research anthropogenic change and landscape transformations to improve landscape policy and management decisions.
  • Inequities in Built Environments & Active Living –– Join the C-WHERE lab to explore spatial energetics (space, place, human movement, physical activity) and how built environments influence active living, with a focus on righting inequities and bringing power to data.
  • Modeling the Spread of Infectious Swine Disease –– Join the Machado Lab to develop forecast models of swine diseases, focusing on the epidemiology of transboundary animal diseases, integrating approaches such as traditional spatiotemporal statistics for mapping disease spread and forecasting disease emergence in animal and human populations.
  • Carbon Cycles and Environmental Justice Policy –– Join the Ecohydrology and Watershed Science Laboratory to assess impacts of climate change and land use change on terrestrial water and carbon cycles and/or evaluating datasets and methodologies used for environmental justice policy.
  • Modeling the Spread of Invasive Species –– Join the Biological Invasions Lab join a research group focused on interactive near-term forecasting of landscape and environmental change, with emphasis on collaborating with stakeholders to explore what may happen in the future under different scenarios.
  • Remote Sensing of Geologic Hazards –– Join the Earth Surface Processes Lab to join a team of geoscientists combining field-based studies with geospatial analysis and modeling.
  • Landscape Connectivity Dynamics in Surface Water Networks — Join the Geospatial Analysis for Environmental Change Lab to investigate climate and land-use change effects on landscape connectivity dynamics.
  • Seasonality from Space — Join the Spatial Ecosystem Analytics Lab on a NASA-funded project investigating satellite data fusion and time series analysis.
  • Winter Weather — Join the Environment Analytics group to study the complex interactions within snow storms and wintery mix storms.
  • Modeling Forest and Water Resources under Changing Conditions — Join the Watershed Ecology lab group and combine various data sources to create projections of future landscape conditions.
  • Modeling Agricultural and Water Resource Dynamics — Join the Biosystems Analytics Lab to study the effects of global and local change on fresh and estuarine water quality, land-sea connectivity and agroecosystem productivity.
  • Surface Water Dynamics from Space — Join the Geospatial Analysis for Environmental Change Lab to investigate hydroclimatic drivers of surface water extent dynamics and advance quantification of water extent and volume.
  • Remote Sensing Forest Gap Dynamics — Join the Applied Remote Sensing and Analysis lab group to examine the role and influence of forest gaps in relation to localized large-scale disturbances.
  • Exploring Urban Planning Scenarios — Join a geovisualization research group focused on developing interactive online 3D visualization systems for innovative public engagement and urban planning in the Research Triangle Region of NC.
  • Natural Resource Management and Ecosystem Services — Focus on geospatial analytics for fire and natural resource management in national parks and protected areas, including modeling fire and ecosystem processes at landscape levels, forecasting development along park boundaries, and building decision support systems.
  • Sustainability Solutions with Land Change Science — Join an interdisciplinary team investigating the dynamics of urbanization and landscape change in the Southeast US through land-change modeling in collaboration with the US Geological Survey.
  • Outdoor Recreation Decision Support Systems — Join a research group focused on built environments and active living, and contribute to developing new decision support analytics for the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Branch of the National Park Service.
  • Smart and Connected Communities — Join a team designing a publicly available, multi-user, online serious game called TomorrowNow to engage citizens and decision makers in developing collaborative scenarios of urbanization and stormwater management, as part of a new grant from the NSF Smart and Connected Communities program.
  • Biological Invasions and Plant Health — Join the Spatial Analytic Framework for Advanced Information Systems (SAFARIS) team to develop spatial models and techniques to forecast movement of invasive pests and pathogens affecting food security and natural ecosystems.
  • Participatory Video and Engaged Environmental Justice — Use participatory mapping and video methods to understand how communities address resource inequities in disaster recovery plans, as part of a larger research project focused on long-term recovery from Hurricane Matthew in NC.
  • Geospatial Social Networks of Environmental Governance — Examine changes in watershed governance following disasters with spatially-explicit social networks in order to understand how and why environmental governance transitions occur.
  • Seasonality from Space — Join a NASA-funded research project to generate moderate resolution land surface phenology from Landsat and Sentinel data fusion. Learn more.
  • Innovation in Local Government — Join a team developing solutions through geospatial visualizations and analytics for internal and external stakeholders of local government in partnership with Wake County, North Carolina.