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Graduate Research Opportunities

A few examples of research opportunities are listed below. However, we encourage prospective students to explore faculty's research areas of interest and contact them directly. When contacting them, please state your research interests and include your CV and an unofficial transcript.

Applied Ocean Science and Engineering

Drs. Seth Zippel, Malcolm Scully, and  Jim Edson are seeking a doctoral student for an NSF-funded project to study turbulence in the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers. We are hoping to understand the role of ocean waves, wave breaking, and turbulent pressure in atmosphere and ocean exchanges, which are central to understanding air/sea transfer of heat, gasses, and momentum. We will conduct two field experiments with a tower in Pamlico sound, NC, collecting wave, turbulence, and pressure data on both the atmosphere and water sides of the boundary. These findings will help improve our fundamental understanding of air/sea interactions, which are central to weather, climate, and upper ocean transport for biota, plastics, and other tracers.

Biological Oceanography


Chemical Oceanography

Dr. David Nicholson is seeking a doctoral student to study the role of the ocean in carbon uptake and sequestration via the solubility and biological carbon pumps. In particular, a position is available on a new NSF-funded project on understanding the role that marine phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean play in the carbon cycle. The project focuses on utilizing data from Biogeochemical Argo floats and satellite remote sensing.  An interest in global biogeochemical cycles and strong quantitative/data analysis skills are desired. Some programming experience in Python or Matlab is a plus. More information on projects can be found at

Marine Geology and Geophysics

Dr. Forrest Horton is seeking a doctoral student FOR AN NSF-FUNDED PROJECT to study the geochemistry of lavas from Baffin Island, arctic Canada. These samples contain the isotopically lightest helium of any terrestrial igneous rocks, indicating that they perhaps material from the deepest and most primordial regions of Earth's mantle. The goals of the project are to (1) better characterize this deep mantle component using an array of isotopic systems, (2) improve our understanding of helium behavior in magmatic environments, and (3) evaluate the temporal evolution of mantle plumes. The student will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, learn a wide variety of analytical techniques (noble gas mass spectrometry, laser ablation ICP-MS, and SIMS), and/or conduct high-temperature diffusion experiments.

Physical Oceanography

Dr. Hyodae Seo is seeking a doctoral student to join his research group specializing in air-sea interaction and climate modeling. The successful candidate will collaborate on an NSF-funded project to examine coupled ocean-atmosphere-land processes that affect the climate, weather, and upwelling on California coastal regions. In particular, the project will use a series of high-resolution regional coupled model simulations to explore 1) how the ocean-atmosphere coupling arising from anomalously warm coastal ocean temperatures during marine heatwaves affects the coastal and inland climate, and 2) how this interaction is influenced by the projected greenhouse-gas-forced changes in large-scale drivers, such as the expansion of the Hadley Cell, repositioning of the North Pacific High Pressure system, and increases in ocean stratification. For further details about the project, please see here  or contact Dr. Hyodae Seo directly.

Dr. Jake Gebbie is seeking a doctoral student to collaborate on a NASA-funded project that combines physical oceanography, paleoceanography, and climate dynamics. The aim of the project is to detect the remnants of the Little Ice Age in the modern ocean. Some subsurface ocean waters were last in contact with the atmosphere several hundred years ago during the cold period known as the Little Ice Age, and are expected to exhibit a slow cooling trend in the mid-depth Pacific Ocean. Multiple forms of information are available to address the aim of the project, including the ECCO ocean reanalysis product that combines millions of in-situ and satellite observations. The project also provides the possibility of using paleoceanographic sediment core data, historical ship observations, and general circulation models. If remnants of the Little Ice Age are detectable, estimates of ocean heat uptake and transient climate sensitivity will have to be substantially revised. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to join both the Paleoceanography and Climate Physics groups at WHOI.