Hester Environmental Hydraulics Research Group       

managing stream, river, wetland, and groundwater hydraulics to benefit aquatic ecosystems and water quality

For Prospective Students

Graduate students

I am frequently looking for bright motivated students that want to advance hydrologic and engineering knowledge to benefit aquatic ecosystems and water quality.  I accept both PhD and MS students.  Interest, motivation, general academic strength, and writing skills are critical.  Students working with me need to be accepted through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering which requires certain undergraduate math, chemistry, physics, and engineering courses.  Undergraduate courses that are often needed for working on research projects in my group include fluid mechanics, open channel flow, hydrology, groundwater, and/or some type of course in biogeochemistry, contaminants, or water quality.  Some of my graduate students also benefit from taking some type of ecology course.  Courses not already taken as an undergraduate can be taken as a beginning graduate student at Virginia Tech, although this will lengthen the duration of your program.  If you are interested in the MS program and need to make up a lot of undergraduate classes, it is best that some of these be taken before arriving at Virginia Tech.  See official degree options and MS course requirements.
Graduate school is very different than undergraduate.  Like undergraduate, you take courses and making lasting friendships.  But your experience is very focused on your research, your advisor and their students, laboratory, and department.  Succeeding requires sustained motivation which requires clear reasons for pursuing the degree.  The choice of advisor is extremely important and can make or break your entire graduate experience.  I encourage you to research potential advisors carefully both in terms of interests and personality.  For this reason I expect each prospective student to come visit campus, get a feel for Blacksburg, talk with students, and talk with me about what they would be doing if they came to work with me.  This is usually done during prospective weekend in late February.

Funding your graduate program can occur in several ways.  The ideal way is self funding through external fellowships or scholarships because you will not have time commitments for teaching or other duties, and your research can be on nearly anything you like.  Examples of these at the national level are EPA STAR and NSF Fellowships, for which you can often apply the year before and have funding ready to go.  Many students are also funded through teaching assistantships (TA) and research assistantships (RA).  In these cases you will need to spend part of your time assisting with teaching a class or doing research that pertains to a particular research grant.  I have research money available to support a limited number of students.  If you are interested in working with me, please email me, explaining your motivation for going to graduate school, what you hope to accomplish while you are there, your research interests, why you are interested in working with me, and little about who you are as a person.  Please include a resume or CV of some kind, and an unofficial copy of your undergraduate transcript.  See home page for contact info.

Undergraduate research assistants

I routinely work with a variety of undergraduates, who help me with research for various durations.  The work is varied and depends on the capabilities of the student and my research needs.  Tasks could include data entry, data analysis, field work, lab work, numerical modeling, or library research.  During the academic year this is typically up to 10 hours per week, done for course credit, and requires commitment for a full semester.  During the summer, I sometimes pay undergraduates hourly wages to help with field work and other tasks.  Students with strong backgrounds in math, statistics, or computer programming, as well as clear motivation for research training are preferred.