Join the lab!

Join the lab!

The Carey Lab is recruiting one Ph.D. student in freshwater ecosystem science to start in Summer 2024!

The Carey Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech is recruiting one graduate student in freshwater ecosystem science to start at the Ph.D. level in August 2024. We are recruiting a Ph.D. student interested in studying how lake and reservoir water quality is changing in response to climate and land use. Research areas could include phytoplankton dynamics, biogeochemistry, and/or greenhouse gas emissions (or more!). This project involves field sampling with other graduate students and undergraduate assistants as part of a long-term freshwater monitoring program; analyzing high-frequency data; conducting whole-ecosystem experiments; and co-developing water quality forecasts with managers, lake associations, and the public to guide decision-making. Throughout the project, the student would work closely with managers and lake associations at our focal field sites in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire and Roanoke, Virginia and collaborate with our interdisciplinary, NSF-supported team.

We seek an enthusiastic and self-motivated student to join our highly collaborative team, and encourage interested students to read through our Mission Statement, Code of Conduct, Diversity & Inclusion Statement, and other lab resources posted on our website to learn more about our group. The Carey Lab is committed to recruiting, retaining, and mentoring individuals to promote diversity, equity, and justice in our research group, and all lab members are committed to upholding and supporting Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community. Our lab actively uses best practices from the science of team science to support our collaborative work and inspire each other to grow as leaders, educators, and innovators.

The Carey Lab is part of the Virginia Tech Stream Team, an internationally-recognized group of faculty and students studying the ecology of aquatic habitats. This vibrant research group provides an ideal environment for conducting graduate work within an interactive and supportive community of freshwater and ecosystem scientists. Other opportunities for students in the Carey Lab include participating in the Virginia Tech Interfaces of Global Change program, VT Center for Communicating Science, and Cross-Boundary Biogeosciences Group.

Funding: The position will be funded on a combination of research and teaching assistantships, which include a competitive stipend, tuition waiver, and comprehensive health insurance benefits. Our Ph.D. program guarantees five years of funding, including summers.

Successful applicants will: be excited to learn about lake and reservoir water quality and how freshwater ecosystems function; have research and scientific writing experience (from either previous employment or academic settings); enjoy collaborating in interdisciplinary teams and talking/thinking about team science, and be interested in engaging with community members about our research. Candidates with strong quantitative skills are especially encouraged to apply.

How to apply: Interested students should send an email letter of inquiry to Cayelan (cayelan @ containing an overview of your research interests, why you are interested in joining our lab, your C.V., an unofficial transcript, and contact info for three references. I will interview applicants who are well-aligned with the lab group and available funding via a video teleconference and then will invite competitive applicants to apply through the Virginia Tech Graduate School admissions website. We no longer require GRE scores as part of our application process. Virginia Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences application requirements and guidelines can be found here.


Interested in postdoctoral opportunities?

At this time, I do not have any available postdoctoral funding but will advertise broadly when I do so. In the meantime, if you are interested in our lab as a potential postdoctoral home, I encourage you to contact me to discuss working together on applications for NSF EARS fellowships, NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Biology, Smith Fellowships, or NEON Fellowships.