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Graduate Assistantship - Carbon Cycling in Salinized Streams

Expiration Date: 

Seeking applications for a paid graduate student position supporting a collaborative project on carbon cycling in mining-impacted, salinized streams. The selected MSc or PhD student will be co-advised by Dr. Erin Hotchkiss (Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech) and Dr. Daniel McLaughlin (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech); the student's degree program will be through the Hotchkiss Lab in Virginia Tech's Department of Biological Sciences. You can read more about this and other new graduate opportunities in the Hotchkiss Lab at

About the research project: Mining and other human activities are making freshwater ecosystems salty (i.e., freshwater salinization). How the ecology of freshwater ecosystems is changing with salinization is still largely unknown. The primary responsibilities of the graduate student working with our project team will be to develop and answer research questions related to (1) testing how water quality changes with stream flow and (2) characterizing patterns of algal production and whole-stream metabolism in Appalachian streams across a gradient of mining impacts. The graduate student will work collaboratively with other members of the project team (graduate students, research technicians, undergraduate researchers, and professors) to conduct fieldwork for their own research as well as research characterizing (1) microbial and invertebrate production and (2) the transfer of energy across food web trophic levels. The overall goal of our project is to assess mining-induced salinity effects on carbon cycling and food web energetics in headwater streams, which we will accomplish through measurements of water quality and hydrology, food web carbon production and transfer, and ecosystem metabolism.

Student support and collaboration team: The student will receive at least two academic years (fall and spring semesters) and three summers of salary support as a Graduate Research Assistant on our NSF-funded collaborative project led by Dr. Sally Entrekin (Entomology, Virginia Tech). The starting graduate student stipend for both MSc and PhD students in Biological Sciences is ~$29,000 USD per 12 months. Additional years of funding, if needed, will be supported by student fellowships, teaching assistantships, and/or other lab-funded projects. Drs. Hotchkiss and McLaughlin are collaborators on the project led by Dr. Entrekin along with Dr. Stephen Schoenholtz (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech), Dr. Carl Zipper (Emeritus Professor, Virginia Tech), and Dr. Teresa Brown (Geology, UVA-Wise).

How to apply: The Biological Sciences departmental deadline for graduate applications is 15 December 2022. The student funded on this project will need to be available to start their degree program in August 2023. Please see for more information about preferred applicant qualifications, the expectations and benefits associated with joining our research group, and how to apply. Successful applicants will contact Dr. Hotchkiss before the departmental application deadline in December 2022; all potential applicants are strongly encouraged to read about the typical application process and timeline described in