M.S. Research Assistantships, Stream Restoration and Flood Resilience

Madison, Wisconsin
Nov 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020
Career Level
Student / Graduate
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

We are seeking two M.S. research assistants to start Fall 2021 for a National Science Foundation-funded project working to understand the interactive dynamics of stream restoration and flood resilience in a changing climate. This research focuses on rural, under-resourced communities in Wisconsin's Driftless Area, centering the work of local non-profits, decision-makers, and landowners to support community-based flood resilience planning. These fully funded masters student researchers (tuition, stipend, and will join an interdisciplinary team of PIs at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Indiana University, with expertise in critical physical geography, fluvial geomorphology, the critical humanities, hydrology, community-based research, and freshwater ecology. Both positions will reside in the Freshwater and Marine Sciences (FMS) M.S. program at UW-Madison, a highly flexible, interdisciplinary graduate training program in the College of Letters & Sciences.

We seek two students interested in the full cross-disciplinary scope of the project and in supporting place-based conversations about community-level flood resilience. While working together under the close guidance of project PIs, one student will specialize in translating flood models into community decision-making tools, while the other will focus more heavily on research into community perspectives.

We seek one student with a strong interest in reach- and watershed-scale hydrologic and hydraulic flood modeling, coupled with curiosity about how those models could be refined and used to envision potential scenarios of watershed and stream-floodplain changes via public engagement processes for community-level flood resilience planning. This student will work alongside a web developer/programmer to create a decision-support tool based on existing hydrologic and hydraulic models. Tool development will also be grounded by geomorphic field investigations at stream restoration project sites. We are looking for someone with a BS degree in environmental science, engineering, geography, geology or a related field and - preferably - with experience in environmental modeling, programming (e.g. R, Python, Matlab), statistics, and GIS.

We seek one student with a strong interest in public perspectives, stakeholder engagement, and qualitative methodologies, including interviews, public meetings, and surveys, related to community-level flood resilience. This student should be interested in gaining fluency in iterative flood modeling, practice with field-based geomorphic surveys, and experience in the facilitation of community-based iterative flood modeling workshops. We are looking for someone with an undergraduate degree in environmental studies, geography or a related field, or a combination of coursework and training that connects humanistic perspectives with biophysical sciences. Experience with interviews, public engagement activities, discursive and thematic analyses, statistics, and/or survey methods would be additional strengths. 

Successful candidates will be intellectually curious, disciplinarily fluid, and committed to research for the public good.

Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. UW-Madison offers support mechanisms that include the Wisconsin Black Student Union, Wunk Sheek, the Multicultural Student Center, a local SACNAS chapter, the Multicultural Student Center, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service. These institutional support structures will complement the close mentorship available on the project. The two funded M.S. students will work closely with each other, with project PIs, and with undergraduate researchers, as well as joining a small and close-knit cohort of FMS students and connecting with community members and organizations in southwestern Wisconsin.

Interested students should send: (1) a letter of inquiry stating qualifications and research interests; (2) a CV or resume; and (3) contact information for two references (not letters) to Dr. Caroline Gottschalk Druschke at University of Wisconsin-Madison: cdruschke@wisc.edu. Priority given to applications received by November 15, 2020. Selected candidates will be asked to apply to the UW-Madison Graduate School by January 1, 2021. The FMS program does not require the GRE, and offers application fee grants for students from low-income families and participants in select programs including the McNair Program.

Learn more about the NSF project "Interactive Dynamics of Stream Restoration and Flood Resilience in a Changing Climate" here.

Learn more about extreme precipitation and recent flooding in Wisconsin's Driftless Area here.

Learn more about the project PIs here, here, and here.

Learn more about the graduate program in Freshwater & Marine Sciences here.

Learn more about water research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison here.

Learn more about the Wisconsin Idea here,