PhD Graduate Research Assistantship, East Carolina Univ.

Apply by Jan. 15: The Integrated Coastal Sciences (ICS) PhD program at East Carolina University (ECU) is seeking a graduate research assistant (GRA) interested in using applied and interdisciplinary approaches to examine coastal issues to assist with a research project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Coastlines and People Hubs for Research and Broadening Participation (CoPe), “Large-scale CoPe: Reducing Climate Risks with Equitable Nature-based Solutions: Engaging Communities on Reef-Lined Coasts.” The assistantship and PhD coursework will begin in Fall 2023. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia Grace-McCaskey, with the support and coordination of a large and interdisciplinary research team.

Project description: This project will advance our understanding of coastal flood and erosion risk and the role of ecosystems and “Nature-based Solutions” (NBS) to empirically assess hazards reduction, social vulnerability, and overall socio-environmental risk. The goals are to (1) establish an inclusive participatory co-design approach for assessing current and future coastal risks and rigorously quantifying the benefits of NBS, including coral reef and mangrove restoration and protection, for equitably reducing risks while enhancing human well-being, economic recovery, and biodiversity benefits, and (2) determine how community experiences of risk differ within and across sites, how that affects NBS implementation, and how adaptive capacity to mitigate increasing climate change is related to localized impacts.

Qualifications needed: The ideal candidate has an interest in using an applied and interdisciplinary approach to examine marine and coastal issues. A master’s degree in the social sciences or natural resource management related field is required, along with experience using social science data collection techniques and qualitative and/or quantitative data analyses to answer complex research questions. Excellent verbal and written communication skills and strong interpersonal skills are desired. Experience using community-engaged or participatory research methods, and/or experience working on environmental justice issues are desired but not required.

The ICS PhD program is housed within the Department of Coastal Studies and the Integrated Coastal Programs ( and provides an interdisciplinary 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 for the first year. Funding in subsequent years is likely, contingent on performance and available funds.

While the application deadline for the ICS program is January 15, 2023, earlier submissions are highly encouraged. Interested applicants should send a brief letter of interest and their CV via email to Dr. Cynthia Grace-McCaskey ( prior to formally applying to the ECU graduate school.