Interested in working with us?

Currently Recruiting – Two NSF-funded PhD Assistantships to study beaver dam analogues impacts on floodplain hydrology: 

We are seeking two PhD students to start May or June 2021 for an NSF project focused on understanding the hydrologic impacts of beaver dam analogues in semi-arid landscapes using a combination of fieldwork (Wyoming), numerical modeling, and UAV image analysis.  As populations of beavers have declined, local municipalities, state agencies, and private landowners have been installing beaver dam analogues (BDAs), a stream restoration structure that mimics the form of natural beaver dams, in beaver-less stream reaches. Due to their simplicity and expected benefits, BDAs are gaining extensive attention and implementation, in spite of the absence of clear scientific data to assess their impacts on reach scale hydrology. The proposed project aims to address this gap in knowledge in order to determine the extent to which BDAs alter groundwater and surface water levels, groundwater- surface water exchange, and evapotranspiration by monitoring a research site containing several BDAs located in Wyoming, USA. 

This project represents a collaboration between Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF, both located in Syracuse, NY and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Wyoming. One PhD student will be hired at SUNY-ESF to work with Dr. Philippe Vidon (Sustainable Resources Management Department), and the other will be hired at Syracuse University with Dr. Christa Kelleher (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences). Recruited students will work as a team, spending several weeks pursuing fieldwork together in all weather conditions in stream and wetland environments at remote locations and in relative autonomy during summers. In addition to field work to characterize physical hydrology of the study sites, one student will focus on the application of novel integrated hydrologic models to study BDA impacts on floodplain hydrology, and one student will focus on the use of unoccupied aerial vehicles to characterize sediment and vegetation response (evapotranspiration and greenness) to BDA installation. The project will involve regular interactions with TNC-WY staff and outreach to local practitioners.  As part of their PhDs, the selected candidates will have opportunities of professional development in collaboration with TNC.

If interested, please contact Dr. Christa Kelleher (Syracuse University, Earth Sciences) or Dr. Philippe Vidon (SUNY-ESF, Sustainable Resources Management) ahead of the application deadline (Jan 15, 2021) with a current CV, information about your interest in pursuing a graduate degree, and research or other relevant experience.

Other Opportunities for Graduate Work:

In addition, I am always looking to recruit graduate students interested in exploring the relationships between hydrology and the landscape that defines it, in terms of climate, vegetation, and geology.  My research primarily relies on computational simulations of simple and complex models to interrogate the relationships between water quality and quantity, and how this varies across different landscapes.  Examples of ongoing projects in our lab include:

  1. Stream temperature in a changing climate: stream temperatures respond to diverse drivers and exhibit complex interactions with hydrology and energy exchange; I am in search of a student interested in using data-driven and physically-based models of stream temperature to determine relationships between temperature responses and system form (e.g., geology, vegetation, human impact)
  2. Applying sUAS to study patterns of water quality: small unoccupied aerial systems (sUAS) offer unprecedented potential to map patterns through space and time; I hope to continue research in this area related to stream temperature or turbidity
  3. Assessing the relationship between flexible model structures and hydrologic behavior: hydrologic models come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and forms; through collaboration with field hydrologists, we aim to assess the relationship between model complexity, model performance, and representation of hydrologic behavior

I am particularly interested in students who have an interest in numerical methods (Matlab/R experience not required but certainly appreciated!  We’ll teach you!) and a strong understanding of physical processes.  If you are interested in joining my research group, please be in touch via email (ckellehe”at” with a little background on yourself, your interest in coming to Syracuse and working with my group, and your CV (make sure to list any previous research experiences and relevant coursework).

Undergraduate Student Opportunities:

Our research group is always looking for motivated undergraduate students to participate in ongoing research group projects.  Please be in touch with Dr. Kelleher directly if you are interested in undergraduate research projects at Syracuse University.