T3 Option in Ecological and Environmental Informatics

The T3 option enhances the INF PhD program, providing innovative training in informatics, ecology, team-based research, and communication, and it is one of a select few graduate training programs funded by the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Research Traineeship (NRT) program.

Graphic showing the 3 areas linked in the T3 program: Informatics, Ecology, and Team-based interdisciplinary research

The T3 Option is motivated by the overarching question:
How does anthropogenic climate change affect the health and productivity of terrestrial ecosystems?

Goal: Train students to independently and collaboratively leverage cutting-edge informatics tools with skills and knowledge of ecology and related environmental science disciplines to address the most pressing environmental issues facing societies today.

Coursework Information

Click here for information about the available courses, requirements, and sample course progression.

On This Page

Application Information Recent Highlights More About the T3 Option

Welcome Back Students!

We are excited to have Cohorts 1 and 2 back for another year and to welcome Cohort 3 for their first semester. We are excited to watch our program grow! Highlights of the 2021-22 academic year will include a world-class line up of speakers for our seminar series and a new graduate-level class in team-based research.  Please see application information below, so you can learn how to join us as a new PhD student in Fall 2023!

T3 Graduate Students
Welcome back, Students!

Application Information

Finding a faculty mentor and research group that aligns with your interests is crucial for success in graduate school. Before applying, please learn about our research groups by looking at their websites and contact the prospective mentor(s) whose interests most closely relate to yours. If you are unsure who to contact, please email the T3 Program Coordinator.

Deadlines: For full consideration for fellowship opportunities within the T3 program and within NAU, apply by November 1, 2022; for full consideration for T3 fellowship opportunities, apply by December 1, 2022; the final deadline (Graduate College deadline) is January 1, 2023.

When you are ready to apply, click here!

Return to Top

Recent Highlights

2021 Welcome Event

We held our Fall 2021 Welcome Event August 19-20, 2021. This hybrid event included a virtual introduction of the program along with lightning talks by graduate students from Cohorts 1 and 2, and a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the Ecological and Environmental Informatics group and an orientation for incoming students in Cohort 3. In addition to the virtual event, we got together (outside!) in-person for the first time since March 2019. It was great to see everyone’s smiling faces!

You can find the full agenda here.

Screenshot of Zoom Meeting
Screenshot of Emma Reich’s lightning talk on her research and the importance of communicating with partners when using large datasets.
Graduate students in front of trees
T3 Graduate Students Fall 2021

2020 Ecoinformatics “Ignite” Presentations

Students in the INF 550 (Advanced Survey in Ecoinformatics Tools) partnered with outside organizations (e.g., NEON, USA-NPN, PhenoCam, FLUXNET, AmeriFlux, NASA EOS, USGS, NWIS) to develop derived data products. Students presented their research in an “IGNITE” style mini-conference in a series of 5-minute lightning talks. 

Past Annual Retreats

Fall 2020  T3 Retreat

Zoom meeting photo
2020 Annual Meeting Participants. We used virtual backgrounds to show each other new things we have done in 2020!

We held our annual T3 meeting on December 1-2, 2020 via Zoom (of course!). On December 1, 10 students presented lightning talks to give updates on their research, and then all participants worked in breakout groups to discuss proposed curriculum changes and to give feedback on how the curriculum could be improved to better suit student needs. Congratulations to Emma Reich and Cameron Bodine for winning the Student Lightning Talk contest!

On December 2, Dr. Kathleen Weathers of the Cary Institute and ESA president joined us. Dr. Weathers presented a seminar on her work with GLEON to researchers across NAU. She followed this with a workshop on team science for students and faculty in the T3 program. Thanks to all who participated. 

Return to Top

2019 T3 Retreat

We held a kickoff meeting for the T3 option in August 2019. At the kickoff meeting, incoming and current INF students in the Ecoinformatics emphasis area, along with faculty, staff, the evaluation team, and External Advisory Committee (EAC) members outlined expectations and participated in our first Team Science Workshop, facilitated by EAC member Kendra Cheruvelil of Michigan State University. Thanks to all who participated. We are excited to get started!

Return to Top

More about the T3 Option

Benefits of the T3 Option

    • Training in team science and science communication through courses and workshops

    • Eligible for supplemental travel funding through a competitive process

    • Eligible for supplemental research funding through a competitive process

    • Opportunity to help shape the T3 program through participation in committees and/or assuming a leadership role in organized activities (seminars, workshops, tutorials, recruitment events, etc.)

    • Option to pursue an internship with a federal agency or another internship partner, providing informatics research experience and networking outside the university

    • Participation in cohort-building activities

    • Opportunity to engage in collaborative, team-based research projects

The Details

Where do the three T’s come from?The T3 option is a Team-based, T-shaped scientist Training program that integrates informatics and ecology.

Funding Opportunities: 

During the initial four years (2019-2023), funding from the National Science Foundation allows us to provide 1- to 2-year fellowships to T3 students that offer a competitive stipend (full funding of $34,000 per year) for up to 6 incoming students per year. Additional select students will be supported on faculty grants and/or teaching assistantships that will further enhance the students’ curriculum vitae upon graduation. Additional research and travel funds are available through a competitive application process.

To learn more about the T3 option to the INF PhD program and associated research and funding opportunities, contact Dr. Kiona Ogle (T3 Program Director) or faculty participants that you are interested in working with.

Unique benefits of the T3 Option: Students who choose the T3 option will develop their own unique program of study that integrates ecological thinking, informatics tools, team-science approaches, and communication skills to solve complex environmental questions in a computationally intensive, data-rich era. Students who participate in the T3 option will be well prepared for careers within and outside of academia.

Benefits of NAU: NAU is home to world-class research centers in ecology and high-performance computing. NAU’s location in the heart of beautiful Flagstaff, AZ, provides easy access to outdoor adventures at international destinations, including Grand Canyon and other national parks as well as local hiking opportunities in the summer and skiing in the winter. You can find more information about living in Flagstaff here.

How to Apply: Admission requirements for the INF PhD Program along with a link to application materials can be found here. Applicants with limited analytical or computing skills are considered for admission if they demonstrate strong interest and potential to learn and apply such tools, and the more quantitative students are admitted if they express interest and aptitude toward ecological or environmental applications. Please indicate that you are interested in consideration for the T3 option in Ecological and Environmental Informatics in your written statement.

Research Opportunities for T3 Students:

INF PhD students in the Ecological and Environmental Informatics emphasis area work closely with faculty mentors on a variety of topics. If you are interested in joining our program, we recommend that you contact a prospective faculty mentor whose research interests you. You can find out about faculty research interests here and find more information about individual research groups here.

Program Elements:

  • A flexible curriculum that allows each student to create his/her personalized “T-profile” that integrates breadth and depth of expertise. Breadth and depth are developed with respect to five core competency areas:
    1. Data analytics and/or computing
    2. Ecology and supporting environmental science areas
    3. Analysis and/or synthesis (e.g., statistical or simulation modeling)
    4. Communication and collaboration
    5. Data collection tools and products

  • Workshops, courses, and other activities that focus on team skills and applying these skills to collaborative research projects. These activities also include training in science communication.

  • Preparation for a range of careers via professional development and applied internship opportunities.

  • Cohort-building activities and opportunities for T3 graduate students to contribute to and take ownership of various program elements.


The T3 option to the INF PhD training program (Ecological and Environmental Informatics emphasis area) is couched in the interdisciplinary research theme of understanding and forecasting the properties and processes of terrestrial ecosystems, or ecological systems more generally, especially in the context of understanding the impact of and feedbacks to global change. The field is being flooded with data (e.g., from various ecological and Earth observatory networks) that are critical to understanding and forecasting terrestrial ecosystem responses. However, most graduate students and scientists lack the quantitative, computational, and collaborative skills to leverage such data to address grand, challenging questions. The T3 EEI option will train the next generation of scientists to overcome these limitations, with a focus on training in informatics tools and team-science skills that facilitate solutions to complex problems, motivated by the question: How does anthropogenic global change affect the health and productivity of terrestrial ecosystems? This innovative graduate training will allow trainees to create their own T-shaped scientist profile in ecological and environmental informatics (EEI) by building substantive depth (stem of T) in a primary core competency and establishing breadth (bar of T) in other primary and supporting areas. The primary areas include hard skills in data analytics and computing, analysis and synthesis, and ecological and environmental science; the supporting areas include relevant data collection tools and products and soft skills in communication, collaboration, and team building. Elements of the T3 option are scalable and sustainable, including: (1) a curriculum that allows students to create their personalized T-profile, supported by existing and new classes and a variety of training activities, (2) workshops, courses, and other activities that focus on teaming skills and applying these skills to collaborative research projects, (3) preparation for a range of careers via professional development and applied internship opportunities, and (4) a graduate EEI certificate that is accessible to students in a range of STEM fields outside of the core T3 option. These components are expected to benefit MS and PhD students in multiple academic units at NAU.

Return to Top