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PhD Graduate Research Assistantship in Ecological Engineering

Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering Department

Blacksburg, VA, USA

Date added to AEES Website:

September 21, 2023

Date to remove from AEES Website:

June 30, 2024

About the Role

Dr. Natasha Bell in the Biological Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech is recruiting a PhD student to begin in Summer or Fall 2024. Review of candidates will begin November 15 and continue until a successful candidate is selected. The graduate research assistantship includes tuition waiver, subsidized health insurance, and a competitive stipend.

Research Overview: 

Managing the nitrogen cycle and providing access to clean water are among the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. Ecological engineered technologies, which harness the natural capabilities of plants and microbes to treat water, are effective strategies to reduce excess nutrients and other pollutants from agricultural and urban sources. This project will focus on elucidating remediation mechanisms of treatment wetlands and subsurface bioreactors at the lab-, pilot-, and/or field-scales. Relationships between hydraulic conditions and biogeochemical processes will be characterized to inform resilient designs of these technologies.


Duties will include collection of water, plant, and/or microbial samples; operation and maintenance of water quality monitoring and analytical instrumentation; data analyses; and communication of research findings via conference presentations and submission of peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Minimum requirements:

·  M.S. degree in engineering, hydrology, plant, environmental, soil sciences, or closely related field by the time of enrollment

·  Previous lab and/or field experience

·  Ability to participate in lab and field activities

·  Excellent written and oral communication skills

·  Demonstrated ability to work independently and effectively with a team

Candidates with an interest in interdisciplinary research and a familiarity with ecological engineered technologies are strongly encouraged to apply. Those interested should contact Dr. Natasha Bell ( with their CV and a brief statement of interest and related experiences.

More information:

Bell Lab:

VT BSE Graduate Programs:

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