Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. Program at East Carolina University*

ECU’s Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. program is a highly competitive and interdisciplinary Ph.D. program that is recruiting for the fall 2022 season. The Ph.D. is housed within the Department of Coastal Studies and the Integrated Coastal Programs (https://coastal.ecu.edu/coastalstudies/integrated-coastal-sciences/). The ICS Ph.D. provides a unique, integrated, and multidisciplinary approach to coastal studies that emphasizes links between natural, social, economic, and health sciences. The assistantship provides a tuition waiver, monthly stipend, and health insurance. Funding in subsequent years is likely, but contingent on performance and available funds. The application deadline is January 15, 2022. Please contact the Ph.D. Program Director, Dr. Siddhartha Mitra (mitras@ecu.edu) for questions.

*East Carolina University is committed to the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body, faculty, staff, and administration. ECU strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, and historically underrepresented groups.

ICS Ph.D. Admissions

Admission to the ICS Ph.D. program is based on several criteria, considered together in a holistic manner. Prospective students should apply online through the ECU Graduate School at https://gradschool.ecu.edu/admissions/. Students must meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School of East Carolina University and the ICS Ph.D. program. Below you will find a checklist for the requirements to the program.


✔ Transcripts - Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate courses completed. International student applicants, please note that ECU requires that foreign institution transcripts go through a course-by-course credential evaluation. ECU’s list of approved evaluators include WES (World Education Services), IEE (International Education Evaluations, Inc.), ECE (Education Credential Evaluators), Transcript Research, and SpanTran. Such an evaluation will take extra time and should be considered with consideration given to the priority application deadline of January 15th.

✔ TOEFL score (non-English speaking international students).

✔ Letters of Recommendation - Three letters of recommendation, two of which should be from those familiar with the applicant’s academic performance and potential as a Ph.D. level researcher.

✔ Statement of Purpose - The Statement of Purpose should demonstrate 1) the basis for the applicant’s interest in a coastal sciences program that integrates across natural and health or social sciences, 2) how the ICS program will contribute to the applicant’s long-term career aspiration, 3) what the applicant can contribute to the program and fellow students, and 4) a clear indication that the applicant recognizes the sustained personal commitment required for successful completion of a research-intensive doctorate. A preliminary indication of the likely area of concentration, major professor, and complementary areas and an explicit statement of whether funding is requested or not should also be included.

✔ Resume or Curriculum Vitae.

✔ Writing Sample - Examples or excerpts from formal papers, gray literature, white papers, or published articles as examples of the applicant’s writing abilities and analytical skills.

For more information regarding the admissions process visit the ICS webpage at https://coastal.ecu.edu/coastalstudies/integrated-coastal-sciences/ics-admissions and have a look at the program handbook here.

Recruitment Day

Join ICS faculty online this year! The event will allow prospective students to learn more about the Ph.D. program and listen to current projects. It will also give you an opportunity to ask questions to the program director and faculty involved in the various research projects.

When: TBD

Time : 11am to 1pm

Register HERE for the event

Archived Research Opportunities from 2021

Fall 2021 recruitment for the research areas below & many other coastal projects!

Evaluating the Coastal Protection and Ecological Co-benefits of Novel Marsh-Oyster Restoration Approaches

Summary: The research study will evaluate the effectiveness of using novel oyster reef designs to restore oyster habitat, attenuate boat-wake induced wave energy, reduce shoreline erosion, and promote marsh restoration along the highly trafficked Taylor’s Creek thoroughfare, in Beaufort, NC. Results from this study will provide insight into the viability of novel oyster and marsh restoration approaches that circumvent the issues frequently associated with conventional restoration approaches being used to mitigate erosion along shorelines experiencing sea-level rise. Contact Dr. Rachel Gittman for additional information (gittmanr17@ecu.edu)

Sponsor: U.S. Coastal Research Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

An Integrative Analysis of Perceptions, Policy, and Land Use Impact on Coastal Agricultural Watershed Resilience

Three ICS Ph.D. students will collaboratively work with engineering, biology, economics, and coastal studies faculty at ECU, as well as other students, to support an NSF-funded project to study how perceptions of ecosystem health, various land use policies, and sea level rise alter land use decisions by farmers, which then can change ecosystem processes related to nutrient cycling. The project is led by Dr. Ariane Peralta (Dept. of Biology) in collaboration with Drs. Randall Etheridge (Dept. of Engineering & Center for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering), Greg Howard (Dept. of Economics), David Griffith (Dept. of Coastal Studies), and Enrique Reyes (Dept. of Biology).

Social Sciences Focus – Anthropology (advisor: Dr. David Griffith). The student would be expected to develop lists of potential farmers and others familiar with farming practices from tax records and other public databases for sampling purposes, assistance with interview protocol development and the pretesting of questionnaires and interview guides, interviewing farmers and others in ways consistent with social distancing, data processing, and interpretation and writing of results.

Social Sciences Focus – Behavioral Economics (advisor: Dr. Greg Howard). The student will use interview and survey data to build a behavioral model of farmer land use and land management decisions in a coastal North Carolina watershed.

Natural Sciences Focus – Hydrologic Modeling (advisor: Dr. Randall Etheridge). The student will develop a hydrologic and water quality model using SWAT+ for a North Carolina river basin. The model will be used to examine how sea level rise and land management changes alter coastal ecosystems as a part of a large interdisciplinary project.

Contact Dr. Ariane Peralta for additional information (peraltaa@ecu.edu).

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Oceanographic and Marine Hydrokinetic Research

Understanding high-frequency variability in the cyclonic shear zone of the Gulf Stream with HF radars.

Quantifying the variability in the available hydrokinetic energy resource from the Gulf Stream for the state of NC.

Gulf Stream, Mid Atlantic Bight, South Atlantic Bight, Chesapeake Bay Outflow, and Slope Sea water mass dynamics off of NC.

Measuring ocean waves to understand the evolution of deep-water waves as they propagate onshore and apply what we learn to wave energy development.

Collaborating with ocean energy developers and multidisciplinary research teams to develop renewable ocean energy harvesting devices.

Contact Dr. Mike Muglia for additional information (mugliam@ecu.edu)

Sponsor: NC Renewable Ocean Energy Program

Global Hotspots of Change in Mangrove Forests

The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Dr. David Lagomasino (http://bit.ly/Lagomasino_Lab) and use historical satellite imagery and cutting-edge new sensors to measure changes in coastal regions around the world. In addition, they will incorporate demographic and economic data to understand how mangrove loss hot spots have evolved over time and what types of conversions (pollution, aquaculture, erosion) have contributed to changes in coastal regions globally. The ideal candidate has an interest in working with a collaborative interdisciplinary team and using novel integrative methods to examine human-environment interactions in dynamic coastal settings.

A Master’s degree in Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, or the Social Sciences is preferred, as is familiarity using qualitative and/or quantitative data analyses to answer complex research questions. Excellent verbal and written communication and strong interpersonal skills are desired. Experience using GIS and Remote Sensing software, computer programming, and statistical modeling, are a plus.

Contact Dr. David Lagomasino for additional information (lagomasinod19@ecu.edu)

Sponsor: NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program


Created with an image by neelam279 - "salt marshes westerhever north sea coast"