Graduate Research Assistant (MS/PhD)

North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina (US)
$26,000 per year + health benefits + tuition
Apr 19, 2019
May 19, 2019
Career Level
Student / Graduate
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

Description: The Kern group at NC State ( is looking to fill multiple funded graduate student positions (either MS or PhD, though interest in a PhD is preferred) to conduct highly interdisciplinary and innovative research on complex emergent risks in coupled natural-human systems. Our research is broadly focused, bridging electric power systems and water resource systems analysis, environmental science, and finance/economics.

We use computational modeling, operations research, and a wide range of analytical and statistical tools to build ‘systems’ level models of infrastructure (especially bulk electric power systems/markets) that can provide assessments of associated physical, environmental and financial risk to decision makers. Our group has a strong interest in power systems’ exposure to uncertainty in meteorological and hydrologic processes and associated extreme events (e.g., hydrological droughts, extremely windy periods), which can alternately create extreme levels of scarcity or overabundance of renewable energy on the grid.  Using these models, the goal is to simulate outcomes (e.g., physical reliability, market prices) and then to devise creative solutions through a combination of new infrastructure (e.g., batteries), alternative management and control strategies, and/or financial risk mitigation tools (e.g., insurance, derivatives).

Graduate students will collaborate with researchers at other universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, UC Davis, UC Merced, Oregon State University, and Cornell) as part of two existing NSF Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) projects, both of which are focused on connections between water resource systems, irrigated agriculture, and electric power systems along the West Coast of the U.S.

Much of our work is ultimately aimed at supporting real-world decision-making regarding management of/ investment in natural resources and critical infrastructure, and we frequently interact with and collaborate with real stakeholders (e.g,. electric power utilities, water managers). We aim to provide students with modeling and analytical skills and sector-specific knowledge, as well as a professional network spanning academia, government, and the private sector, which collectively could be leveraged to pursue a range of post-graduate employment opportunities.

Requirements: A quantitative background (natural sciences, math, statistics, engineering or economics) is strongly preferred. Applicants should have at least 6 months (or 1 semester) experience in computer programming (e.g., Matlab, Python, R, C++, etc.). Interest in doing computational work is more important than skill (the goal is to get a lot better, but you have to want to). We’re looking for people that will be kind, respectful group members while contributing their own unique perspectives and strengths to the team. Students from under-represented groups (women, minorities) are especially encouraged to apply.

Compensation: For PhD applicants, 3 years of full tuition and living stipend ($26,000 per year research assistantship) are guaranteed. If support beyond 3 years is required to complete the PhD, the students will work alongside the adviser to acquire additional funding through internal (e.g,. teaching assistantships) and external opportunities (graduate fellowships). For masters students, 2 years of support are guaranteed.

To Apply: If interested, please send an email to Jordan Kern ( with a letter of introduction, CV, and statement of research interests.