Prospective Graduate Students



Specific call: updated 01 December 2019 (Application Deadline 15 December!)

Multiple positions as part of a regional project to understand how climate and land use modify fluvial networks over time scales of single years to tens of thousands of years. Opportunities to work across multiple institutions and with community partners.


Just the core facts

  • Fluvial response to climate and land-use change (Ph.D.: U. Minnesota, M.S.: MSU Mankato)
  • Environmental instrumentation (M.S. or Ph.D.: U. Minnesota)
  • U. Minnesota (Twin Cities) deadline: 15 December 2019
  • MSU Mankato Deadline: 01 March 2020


Andy Wickert's group at the University of Minnesota ( is recruiting 1-2 new graduate students to join us in Fall 2020. Phil Larson's group at Minnesota State University, Mankato (, may be recruiting 1 M.S. student, also for a Fall 2020 start. These positions are part of a broader regional project to understand how riverine landscapes respond to past and present climate and land-use change. We welcome your inquiries and applications!

Fluvial geomorphology Ph.D.: alluvial river network evolution (U. Minnesota)
How do alluvial rivers respond to climate and land-use change over time scales that range from single years to tens of thousands of years? We are working to develop new theory and models to describe and understand how these river networks evolve. Our goal is to build a predictive model that can be applied to both modern and ancient river-system change. This project will be focused on theory and modeling, and will also include field work and analysis of laboratory experiments, along with possible work in river-terrace geochronology.
Ideal qualifications*

  • Mathematics through linear algebra and differential equations
  • Experience programming in C, C++, and/or Python
  • A working knowledge of fluvial geomorphology
  • Enthusiasm for working in a multi-institution group with local collaborators

Please feel free to contact us even if you don't think that you match all of these: "ideal" for a reason!

Fluvial geomorphology M.S.: alluvial river network evolution (MSU Mankato)
Similar objectives to the Ph.D. position (above), but with a focus on field work and geochronology. TA support for this position is pending, but we should have more information by the week of Dec. 9th. Please contact Phil if you are interested.
Ideal qualifications*

  • A working knowledge of fluvial geomorphology
  • Field and/or lab experience
  • Enthusiasm for working in a multi-institution group with local collaborators

Environmental Instrumentation M.S. or Ph.D. (University of Minnesota)
Over the past three years, we have developed open-source data loggers and sensors for hydrology,  glaciology, and geomorphology at the Surface Processes Instrumentation Laboratory. We are seeking an enthusiastic engineer or geoscientist to help us with in one or more of the following areas:

  • Electronics hardware development
  • Mechanical hardware development (including enclosures and weather-hardening)
  • Field deployment and testing
  • Benchmarking and characterization
  • Documentation

An ideal candidate will have a background relevant to their proposed work and enthusiasm for work that contributes to open-source science.



We currently encourage applicants in the following areas:

  • Ph.D. in developing theory and numerical models to simulate the evolution of rivers and their networks. This project will build off of Wickert & Schildgen (2019): Preferred background: mathematics through differential equations / linear algebra; physical geography, civil engineering, or geology/Earth science background; basic knowledge of fluid mechanics and geomorphology.
  • M.S. or Ph.D. in instrumentation development. Preferred Background: B.S. in electrical or mechanical engineering, skills with CAD software (e.g., Eagle, Solid Works), desire for interdisciplinary integration into Earth Sciences program.


Group Information

Graduate students in our group work on projects encompassing the following three broad categories:

Field instrumentation

  • Developing, producing, and deploying new open-source data logger and sensor technologies
  • Manfuacturing and scaling

Past glaciation

  • Coupling models of glacial runoff, sea level, ice dynamics, and climate
  • Glacial-isostatic adjustment and past ice sheet reconstructions

River system evolution

    • Fluvial terrace formation and evolution
    • Quaternary history of the Upper Mississippi RIver system
    • Evolution of streams draining to Lake Superior: a natural experiment in base-level fall
    • Improving theory for interactions between climate, land-use, erosion, sediment transport, and river morphodynamics


    Important notes for potential applicants


    1. My hope is for all students in the group to gain skills and confidence in all three major areas of our work:
      • Developing theory / numerical modeling
      • Laboratory research, whether in instrumentation design/development or at SAFL (hydraulics and sediments)
      • Field work, which can range from local projects in river valleys to farther-flung work in remote locations and on glaciers
    2. The University of Minnesota requires these basic requirements; if you have not completed them, you may still apply but will have to complete these classes before you can graduate:
      • 2 semesters of calculus (this means through the end of single-variable)
      • 2 semesters of chemistry (this can sometimes be satisfied with geochemistry as one semester)
      • 2 semesters of physics (typically, this is classical mechanics + E&M)
    3. I expect all students to exceed these requirements in mathematics and computation, and generally expect differential equations, linear algebra, and skills in programming (Python, C/C++, and possibly Fortran)
    4. It is my goal that students in my group become confident, independent-minded, collaborative, and self-aware researchers. This is a place to stretch your imagination and abilities. Sometimes there are funded projects with things that just need to be done, but as much as possible, I want to promote your ability to learn and explore.