The University of Florida Water Institute is seeking 6 highly motivated doctoral-degree students for Fellowships that provide an annual stipend, tuition waiver and health insurance for 4 years starting fall term 2017.

These PhD students will work collaboratively within this interdisciplinary team of Fellows and their faculty advisors. The focus project takes a comprehensive systems approach to analysis of interbasin transfer of surface water into the Tempisque River watershed in Costa Rica. This water transfer has altered hydrology, land use, economic structure, and health of the downstream Palo Verde wetland in the Tempisque watershed (Figure 1).

The studentís dissertation research will collectively contribute to identifying strategies to achieve watershed resilience by addressing hydrology, ecology and climate as well as social, cultural and legal aspects of the system. Examples of individual research questions include:
  • What are key factors determining resilience of the watershed?
  • How do climate fluctuations affect watershed resilience?
  • How should ecological health be included in determining watershed resilience?
  • What policies (restrictions and incentives) can be put in place to induce watershed resilience?
  • How do political, social, cultural and legal contexts influence the policy framework for inducing watershed resilience?
  • How should a watershed be comprehensively assessed to determine its resilience and hidden trade-offs?
Schematic diagram of complex dynamics in the Tempisque.

Each student will develop a selected disciplinary expertise on the system while becoming well-rounded and knowledgeable in all other disciplinary aspects of the project. While pursuing a PhD in their respective department, all students will be located together in the same office in order to encourage interdisciplinary research discussions. As such, beyond the usual criteria of academic excellence, we will look especially for open-minded candidates eager to work across disciplines and willing to become proficient in Spanish in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the issues.

The student Fellows and their faculty advisors will meet at least monthly, with annual retreats to evaluate overall progress. The project will include a summer 2018 visit to the Tempisque watershed in Costa Rica to gain hands-on experience of the issues. Students will be required to take interdisciplinary courses tailored to the cohort. Course topics will include grant proposal writing, a policy and law field course, a doctoral research seminar on how experiments and models are used and challenged in policy making, a research design course in anthropology, and a course in network science that includes theory and methods related to social and ecological networks.

Students will be required to submit at least 1 funding proposal for their doctoral research, and to lead at least one multiple-authored manuscript submitted to an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal. Students will present their research findings at the biennial Water Institute Symposium.

Qualifications: Applicants should have a strong demonstrated interest in water issues and either a Masterís degree in natural sciences, social sciences, or engineering, or a JD degree. Exceptional students with a Bachelor's degree plus research experience in an appropriate discipline will also be considered. Persons from groups under-represented in science and engineering professions are encouraged to apply.

Detailed information from WIGF faculty about their studentís component of the Tempisque project can be found here. In order to be awarded one of these Fellowships, you must be selected by one of the following UF faculty, who would then be your major advisor:
  • Principal Investigator: Rachata Muneepeerakul (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)
  • Christine Angelini (Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment)
  • Jeffrey Johnson (Anthropology)
  • Gregory Kiker (Agricultural and Biological Engineering, School of Natural Resources & Environment)
  • Rafael MuŮoz-Carpena (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)
  • Peter Waylen (Geography)
Thomas Ankersen (Law) and Alfredo Garcia (Industrial and Systems Engineering) are also participating faculty in this project, but will not be major advisors to a WIGF student Fellow.

You are encouraged to introduce yourself to the faculty member in your area of interest prior to submitting this application.

Application period has closed.