Global Nitrogen Innovation Center for Clean Energy and the Environment

PhD level graduate student position in Nitrogen Information Systems

Position Description:  

The Global Nitrogen Innovation Center for Clean Energy and Environment (NICCEE) is seeking a motivated Ph.D. student to develop a state-of-the-art data platform. This platform will track nitrogen management across the agriculture, food, and energy systems, aiding stakeholders in informed decision-making. This position is backed by the recently established NICCEE with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF; 

The selected candidate will be co-advised by Professor Xin Zhang, NICCEE director, and Professor Dong Liang. The student will work with the project team to develop an algorithm to synthesize data from a wide range of sources in order to improve the quantification of nitrogen-use information in the agriculture-food-energy systems, and guide further data acquisition. Additionally, they will partner with a spectrum of stakeholders to roll out a platform for the dissemination of these data products, fostering sustainable nitrogen management practices. Through this transdisciplinary and transnational project, the student will have ample opportunities to work with a variety of experts and stakeholders, including those from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fertilizer Association.

Location:   The UMCES Appalachian Laboratory, Frostburg, MD. Frostburg is a small college town with a low cost of living and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. Nearby amenities include numerous state forests and wildlife areas, scenic Appalachian Mountains, and Frostburg State University.

The successful candidate will have 1) a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Data science, Statistics, Environmental Science, or similar field; 2) proficient in at least one programming language. Basic knowledge about nitrogen cycles in agriculture-food-energy systems is desirable but not required. 

Start Date:   January to August 2024. The review of applications will begin Dec. 10, 2023 and continue until a qualified candidate is found.
Description:   The assistantship will include tuition coverage, benefits, and a 12-month annual stipend of starting at $33,642. Three years of support are available through the NSF research assistantship, with additional support available through AL-UMCES institutional funds and fellowships.
Program Info:  

The student will matriculate through the Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Sciences Program (MEES;, a University of Maryland multi-campus joint degree program, and will reside at the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg for the duration of the project. For the MEES program, the application deadline for fall enrolment is Jan 10, 2024. Note that the GRE is no longer required for the application. 

In addition to the MEES application, interested candidates should also send an email to The Environment and Science Policy Lab ( containing following documents as a single PDF: (1) a statement of interest, (2) a CV, (3) contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses) for three references, and (4) copy of academic transcripts (optional).  Please indicate in your subject line “[NICCEE_UMCES_PhD]”. Informal inquiries are also welcome.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science unleashes the power of science to transform the way society understands and manages the environment. By conducting cutting-edge research into today’s most pressing environmental problems, we are developing new ideas to help guide our state, nation, and world toward a more environmentally sustainable future through five research centers—the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, the Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, and the Maryland Sea Grant College in College Park.  Information about AL and UMCES can be found at:  

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is an equal opportunity employer. The Center’s policies, programs, and activities are in conformance with pertinent Federal and State laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, and disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Educational Amendments; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; or related legal requirements should be directed to the Director of Human Relations, Center Administration, P.O. Box 775, Cambridge, MD 21613.